20 years of "Shear Madness" in Powszechny Theatre in Łódź

„Shear Madness” by Paul Pörtner has been one of the most popular spectacles in Polish theatres. 20 years ago, when the Powszechny Theatre director Ewa Pilawska took a chance and decided to premiere it in Poland, nobody believed it would be such a huge success. In 2019 Powszechny Theatre in Łódź is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first presentation. On Friday, 19 July, we invite our viewers to take part in the celebrations.

- „Shear Madness” is the proof that artistic risk is very important in the theatre. Powszechny Theatre in Łódź is the Polish Comedy  Centre and when I construct its repertoire I always look for a new, diverse comedy language. We would not develop if we did not look for new texts, new resources – says Ewa Pilawska, the Powszechny Theatre director.

- Today it may be hard to imagine that somebody could doubt its success. But then, 20 years ago, situation was quite different. When we received the translated text of the play, both the actors as well as the play’s director had many doubts and our co-producer, Kwadrat Theatre in Warsaw, backed down – recalls Ewa Pilawska. – But I insisted on it because I knew our doubts would not be resolved if we did not try the play on stage. Even the production process was not easy – we had to have an American certificate and director Maciej Sławiński went to the United States to get it. And then it was not even easy to buy dollars. Everything was new – says Ewa Pilawska.

After the Łódź first preview „Shear Madness” proved to be a huge success. The play was presented in other Polish theatres in many cities, among others – in Kwadrat Theatre in Warsaw. „Shear Madness” is one of the plays with the longest history in our theatre. So far it has been presented 1,169 times. Due to its interactivity and its plot many viewers watch it several times. Record-holder has done it 16 times. Total audience of the play in Powszechny Theatre amounts to 400,000 people. The first presentation took place on 29 March, 1999. We celebrate its 20th anniversary in July, during the „Summer In Powszechny Threatre” project only because in March there was the 25th jubilee edition of International Festival of Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant.

- 20 years ago „Shear Madness” was our „to be or not to be”. I have a special feeling towards it because it gives me true joy. It is important to take care of the spectacle all the time and that is why we change costumes, set-design and new actors appear on the stage. Its because some of the actors grew up and started to make their career in other hair-dressing saloons, just like Jacek Łuczak in Kwadrat Theatre in Warsaw and in the Jan Kochanowski Theatre in Radom. The spectacle is alive and it changes. I am glad that we gave so much joy to other Polish theatres. I want to thank all actors for those 20 years. Barbara Lauks, Andrzej Jakubas, Piotr Lauks and Artur Majewski have been in the play since its very beginning. Other roles were played by Ewa Tucholska, Magdalena Drewnowska, Marta Kuśmirek and Beata Ziejka (the role of Markowska); for many years it was Jacek Łuczak  who played Antonio the hair dresser, now he has been replaced by Jakub Firewicz and Jakub Kotyński – says Ewa Pilawska.   

Cukiernia Wasiakowie (the Wasiak Confectioner’s) is our jubilee evening partner and that is why the celebrations will sure be very nice.  

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Paul Pörtner
„Shear Madness”
Translation: Elżbieta Woźniak
Director: Marcin Sławiński
Set design: Katarzyna Jarnuszkiewicz/Krzysztof Kelm
Cast: Barbara Lauks, Beata Ziejka, Jakub Kotyński/Jakub Firewicz, Andrzej Jakubas, Piotr Lauks, Artur Majewski