For the first time in his longtime artistic practice, Krystian Lupa will visit Lublin and participate in the 21st Theatre Confrontations Festival. This outstanding Polish theatre director visits Lublin with a play staged by the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre. His Heroes’ Square (2015) is an adaptation of the last drama by Austrian writer and playwright Thomas Bernhard, offering us a unique opportunity not only to experience the work of the brilliant Polish director but also to feel the presence of the spirit of the controversial Austrian writer.

Reading Bernhard we get the sensation that the world he has created is firmly shut, so painstakingly furnished that any intervention on our part is destined to fail. For that reason, any attempt to cross the border, enter this particular work and foster cooperation with the hysterical narrator requires heroism of the director. The director’s “obsession”, which forces him to stage consecutive plays based on the creative output of the Austrian bears some correspondence to the artistic neurosis that the writer himself suffered from (the compulsive nature of Bernhard’s writing is palpable to anyone upon reading barely a few pages). This paradox, which somehow casts light on the mystery of the above-mentioned relation, means that what we can say about Lupa’s “compulsion” correlates with the literary “neurosis” that affects Bernhard. Lupa’s theatrical work is the embodiment of the devil’s logic of the “extinction” of the self, as programmed by the writer himself. That is why we are under the impression that Lupa reads Bernhard accordingly. All this is mysteriously synchronised with the motif of suicide that features prominently in the Austrian’s work. In Heroes’ Suicide it is the protagonist’s suicide that triggers the plot. The play’s finale results in the liberation of the imperceptible but still very much alive demons of Nazism. In his own homeland Bernhard functioned as the nation’s prick of conscience – it ceaselessly reminded his fellow Austrians about the disgraceful chapters in the history of their country. This yet another attempt to dust off the legacy of the writer who died in 1989 coincides with the troubling situation that our own country has found itself in. When history is being politicised and the memory of our own past mistakes is being burdened with the weight of ideological narrative, when a series of nationalist demonstrations are rolling across the country, the message that Heroes’ Square imparts seems urgently topical. “One ought to articulate this fear,” states Lupa, keenly observing the Polish reality of the last few months.

Piotr Pękala

What kind of artist was Thomas Bernhard? Are we at present still in need of artists going against the grain? What is the difference between “extinction” and suicide? [TU BRAKUJE IMION I NAZWISK DYSKUTANTÓW] will discuss Bernhard’s “radiant impetus of negation.”

Zbigniew Mikołejko

Philosopher and historian of religion, essayist. Professor at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences . Active commentator of current socio – political problems. Author and co-author of several books and more than eight hundred articles. Just to mention very important items that appeared in the publishing house “word / image territories” Death and text. The situation in the perspective of the final words, In power of The Hanged Man. From the history of the Western imagination and In power of The Hanged Man vol. 2: Dark powers, cruel liturgies.

Piotr Pękala

Curator and writer on art. Permanently working in the Centre for Culture in Lublin, where he leads the project “Ende Neu”, under which, in the White Gallery, he launched several individual exhibitions and collective exhibition Devils (2014). He organizes meetings and presentations of electronic experimental music. He is a part of a core team of the Theatre Confrontations Festival and is currently working on PhD about Andrzej Zulawski’s artwork.