“Burmistrz – The Mayor”
By Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk (*1964, Warsaw)
German translation from the Polish by Benjamin Voelkel
A Polish Prime Minister once whispered at an election rally: “Every time I say this word I lose two per cent of my votes.” The name of this Polish Prime Minster was not Kaczyński, but Miller – and he won the election because he kept his tongue under control. What was this fatal word? “Jedwabne”. This is the name of a small town where during the German occupation in 1941 the Poles carried out a massacre of the Jewish inhabitants. The majority of the victims were burnt alive in a barn. The discovery of this event did not simply cause shock in Polish public life, it also – to put it mildly – produced what could be described as “a polarization of society”.
Quite simply, it meant the end of innocence. Without us losing our honoured place in the club of victims, we had simultaneously become perpetrators. In her play Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk runs through a minefield of historical hysteria with a desperate lack of compulsion and making many mistakes. It is easy to burn oneself, to explode. What a wonderful catastrophe. The play is anything other than a historical reportage or a factual adaptation for several protagonists. It takes place explicitly after the fact. I ought to add that the word “Jedwabne” is not mentioned a single time. Welcome to the phantasmagoria.
Jan Klata (translated from the Polish by Benjamin Voelkel)
Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk was born in Warsaw in 1964 and studied Politics and Journalism in Warsaw and Screen Writing at the School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź. She made her debut in 2004 with the play ‘Psychoterapia dla psów i kobiet’ (Psychotherapy for Dogs and Women) at the Teatr Rozmaitości in Warsaw; further plays followed including ‘Katarzyna Medycejska’ (Catharine of Medici), ‘Walizka’ (The Suitcase) and ‘Madonna’. Her works have been read and performed in numerous countries including Poland, Sweden, Germany, Austria and the USA. ‘Śmierć Człowieka-Wiewiórki’ (Death of the Squirrel Man) directed by Marcin Liber was presented in 2008 at the Theatre Biennale New Plays From Europe in Wiesbaden, at Kampnagel in Hamburg and the Hebbel am Ufer, Berlin. In 2009 she was awarded the Critics’ Prize as well as the second prize at the Polish R@port Festival in Gdynia for ‘Szajba’ (Loose Screws) directed by Jan Klata. ‘The End of the World’, a commission from the Theater Magdeburg was given its world premiere in 2010 as part of the festival ‘OstOstOst – 20 Years of the West’. In October 2010 ‘Bruno Schulz: Mesjasz’ (Bruno Schulz: The Messiah) had its world premiere at the Schauspielhaus Vienna. Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk is a scholarship winner of the US CEC ArtsLink Foundation in the USA and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. Many of her plays have been published in the theatre magazine ‘Dialog’ and translated into German, English, French and Romanian. The author lives in Warsaw.
Scenic Arrangement Nina Gühlstorff
Dramaturgy Daniel Richter
Stage and Costume Design Nora Johanna Gromer
Read by Niels Bormann, Jonas Hien, Bernd Moss, Tilo Nest and Jenny Schily