Kantor Downtown is a project organised by the Polish Theatre in Bydgoszcz on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tadeusz Kantor, thirty years on from the first showing of The Dead Class at La MaMa Theatre in New York. The show is inspired by Tadeusz Kantor and Ellen Stewart, the legendary La MaMa theatrical director, plus other American artists who were part of the New York avant-garde scene of the 1970s and 80s. Born of the need to refresh memories and revisit the “rituals of Rented Island”, the name filmmaker and performer Jack Smith gave to Lower Manhattan, where this underground arts scene took off. We wanted to show that counter-culture is a shared heritage over and above the borders of continents, and returning to the avant-garde of years gone by is necessary in order to build alternatives in contemporary culture and public discourse. The figure of Tadeusz Kantor – a truly modernist practitioner – is here entered into a colourful, anarchic, disruptive, queer and feminist artistic tradition of New York’s Downtown area. The show aims to take a different sort of look at Kantor, to show him as an artist in a real and virtual dialogue with other artists. It is meant to serve as a critical (although also nostalgic) revisiting of the history of Polish and US avant-garde. With reference to the iconic image of The Dead Class – a school classroom filled with mannequins, characters who inhabit the past, the shadows of those who have departed – the creators of the show echo and capture the naturally fading world of avant-garde performance and experimental theatre, all the time well aware how very much that world, its language, aesthetics and politics, are needed by the theatre of today.
Joanna Krakowska

Hybrid of objects in performance. Fascinating (Theodora Skipitares)

Not about particular place or time. He captured the particular and turned it into the universal. (Ozzie Rodriguez)

Kantor? Holocaust crisis theatre. (Lee Breuer)

Kantor? What a great clown! (Lola Pashalinski)

Like a Japanese Butoh dancers. (Linda Chapman)

He scared me to death. (George Ferencz)

Dead Class? Puppet like existence. Everywhere and always (Jill Godmilow)

Why Jack Smith and Tadeusz Kantor had a lot in common? Because they both created their own cosmology. (Penny Arcade)


video collaboration
Mikołaj Walenczykowski

stage manager
Hanna Gruszczyńska


Boska Komedia Kraków (2015, accompanying show), BITEF Festival, Belgrade International Theater Festival (2016), International Theatre Festival Divadelná Nitra (2016)