One of the most important theatre groups in Poland and in Europe. Teatr 21 (21 Theatre) came into being in 2005 at the Special Education School Complex “Dać Szansę” (Give a Chance) in Warsaw. As it turned out, both actors and the director were interested in systematic and intensive work, so they decided to establish a theatre. They needed a place that would be perfect for creative work and socialising; a safe space for braver and closer meetings with themselves and with the audience – yet always in the theatre context.

The team members are students and graduates of the “Dać Szansę” school, people with Down syndrome or autism. Initially, the group worked on non-typical school nativity plays, but then started to prepare original performances. Most of those performances were created on the basis of the group’s own scripts, which they worked out during rehearsals. Within 10 years, the additional theatre courses have turned into work with remuneration for actors.

The Teatr 21 stage their shows in Warsaw theatres (Dramatyczny, Studio, Powszechny, Baj, Soho), the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw, which serves as the group’s headquarters. The theatre also performed at festivals in Poland (Brave Festival in Wrocław, Malta Festival Poznań, All AbouT Freedom in Gdańsk, Modern Art Days Festival in Białystok, Hurra Art! in Kielce, Karuzela and Perspektywy in Łódź) and abroad (Normal Festival in Prague, Menteatral in Neratov and No Limits in Berlin).

Teatr 21 is the only theatre of its kind in Poland. The group is led by Justyna Sobczyk, head of the education department at the Theatre Institute in Warsaw, theatre trainer and director, winner of, e.g. “Kamyk”, the Konstanty Puzyna Award (2016) and the Wdechy Award in the poll announced by the Gazeta Wyborcza, in the Person of the Year Category (2017).

The number 21 in the name of the theatre refers to the extra copy of chromosome 21. “Teatr 21 studies what happens when we open the space for taboo topics”, says its founder, Justyna Sobczyk. “Isn’t it so that what we present as an example of normality is the image of a normalised human being who is not us at all? We pump up an illusion. (…) Teatr 21 provokes a deep reflection on otherness. It speaks about the right to be different and having one’s own place in the society. Wasn’t it so that for similar reasons, though some people may be shocked with the comparison, queer artists did not agree to be considered “the same as others”? “Others” in Teatr 21 are not only them. It is also us, the audience. The actors show us the sense of distance to the world, its slogans, illusions and clichés.
Tadeusz Sobolewski, “Gazeta Wyborcza”

With shameless simplicity, in the best possible way, the actors of Teatr 21 formulate the essence of auto-theatre: “The actor in this theatre tells a story about the self, about oneself”, practise the idea of auto-theatre: “Why do people need theatre? To open to other people”, and disseminate the rule of auto-theatre: “The actor can see the viewer, and the viewer can see the actor.” These three points guarantee that questions arising from the political, economic and social context are addressed not as part of an ideological argument, but rather out of real experience; that democracy, or the lack of it, is not an abstraction, but rather a practice; that theatre can be a place of empowerment, rather than of integration and mere watching.
Joanna Krakowska


Justyna Sobczyk


Justyna Wielgus, Justyna Lipko-Konieczna


Justyna Lipko-Konieczna


Actors of Teatr 21


Justyna Wielgus


Wisła Nicieja


Kamila Białkowska


Paweł Andryszczyk


Tomasz Michalczewski


Sebastian Klim


Monika Dąbrowska-Jarosz


Dagna Dąbrowiecka, Marceli Sulecki, Katarzyna Pawłowska


Win-Win Foundation


Piotr Boruta, Grzegorz Brandt, Anna Drózd, Teresa Foks, Daniel Krajewski, Maja Kowalczyk, Katarzyna Lalik, Barbara Lityńska, Anna Łuczak, Aleksander Orliński, Michał Pęszyński, Emilia Rajca, Piotr Sakowski, Cecylia Sobolewska, Marta Stańczyk, Piotr Swend, Aleksandra Skotarek, Magda Świątkowska


17 December 2015