Benesz Ewa

Karina Janik

(b. 1943), actor, performer, translator. She graduated with a degree in Polish studies from the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin and in 1971 was awarded a diploma in dramatic acting after passing an extramural exam in Warsaw. During the 1965/66 season she worked at the Juliusz Osterwa Theatre in Gorzów Wielkopolski where Irena Byrska and Tadeusz Byrski were artistic directors. After their departure she began collaborating with Jerzy Grotowski. Between 1966 and 1968 she was an actor participating in work on Samuel Zborowski by Juliusz Słowacki and later on The Gospels [Ewangelie]. In 1970, together with Ryszard Peryt, Małgorzata Dziewulska and Piotr Cieślak, she founded the Puławskie Studio Teatralne (Puławy Theatre Studio) at the Puławy Nitrogen Plant. The Studio was a legendary centre of experimental theatre which stood in opposition to the official cultural policies of the state. Jerzy Grotowski was among those who defended the Studio against attacks. He spoke out publicly during a works meeting at the House of Culture in Puławy following a performance of Cervantes’ Miracle Show directed by Dziewulska. Between September 1974 and May 1975 the Studio was active in Warsaw and known as Studio Dramatyczne (Drama Studio). After its dissolution, Ewa Benesz participated in the three-week-long session of The University of Research of the Theatre of Nations in summer 1975 working with, among others, Peter Brook. While working in the Puławy Studio, she began intensive work on the life and works of Adam Mickiewicz, which resulted in her undertaking a long journey primarily around the villages of eastern Poland where she recited Pan Tadeusz. Between 1 July and 31 August 1976 she was employed in the Actors’ Institute of the Laboratory Theatre as an animator and actor. During the 1976/77 season she made a guest appearance at the Edmund Wierciński Teatr Współczesny in Wrocław in the role of Solveig in Peer Gynt directed by Zbigniew Cynkutis. In the 1978/79 season she created a version of Antoni Malczewski’s Maria together with a touring theatre group based in Ciechanowiec which she co-founded with Piotr Borowski. Between 1977 and 1981 she created and presented on numerous occasions a twenty-four-hour urban promenade performance based on RM Rilke’s Duino Elegies. At the same time she was collaborating with several art galleries, creating works that included List do Orfeusza (A letter to Orpheus, 1980) at Wrocław’s Galeria Świdnicka and Legenda (Legend, 1981) at BWA (The Art Exhibition Office) in Kraków. After 1981 she was again connected to the Laboratory Theatre. She spent a year at its ‘forest base’ in Brzezinka, working with a group on Słowacki’s Król-Duch (King-Spirit). Between 1982 and 1996 she collaborated with Rena Mirecka on various paratheatrical projects: Be here now – TOWARDS, The way to the centre and Now it’s the Flight. In 1993, together with Mirecka, she organised the International Centre of Work Prema Sãyi in Sardinia. Since 1997 she has been running paratheatrical experiments there, including To be an experience, Towards the origin, The actors original practices, The vocal practices, while also presenting various paratheatrical and theatrical projects, for example one based on Stanisław Wyspiański’s Wesele (Wedding) at Primostudio with a group of Italian students and professors of the Milan theatre school in 2001.