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WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf: First American Premiere from CalArts Center for New Performance and Poland’s STUDIO Teatrgaleria

WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf: First American Premiere from CalArts Center for New Performance and Poland’s STUDIO Teatrgaleria
WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf from CalArts Center for New Performance and Studio Teatrgaleria makes its American premiere at REDCAT. Photo: Hao Feng, Courtesy of CalArts. Click here for a high-resolution version. 

Creating a cross-cultural dialogue between avant-garde traditions, the production at REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles introduces American audiences to the ongoing multi-year collaboration between the two companies.

“The idea behind the collaboration is predicated on a theater that embraces all arts, abolishes genre, and forges a total transdisciplinary art practice.” Travis Preston, Artistic Director of the CalArts Center for New Performance

Valencia, CA—An innovative theatrical collaboration between Polish and US-based companies brings the American premiere of WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf to REDCAT in downtown Los Angeles. Drawn from the writings of Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz and directed by Natalia Korczakowska, one of the most exciting Eastern European theater artists, WITKACY is a joint project of CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP) and Warsaw, Poland’s STUDIO Teatrgaleria.

WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf runs from Friday through Sunday and Tuesday through Friday, October 18 to Friday, October 25 at REDCAT, located at 631 West 2nd Street, Los Angeles. Click here for showtimes and reservations.

Witkiewicz (1885-1939), popularly known as Witkacy, was a Polish playwright, painter, novelist, philosopher, and avant-gardist. WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf is the latest project from an ongoing long-term collaboration between CNP and STUDIO. For the production, a company of Polish and CalArts artists explore Witkacy’s work, set against the backdrop of California’s wild nature. The plot unfolds through the journey of a neurotic boy and his family from New Guinea through Sydney to the desert. Witkacy believed that nature can be a source of metaphysical experience that gives humans a chance to protect their individuality from the soulless social machine of Western civilization. WITKACY is a journey from Poland to the California desert — and also a journey into the depths of the self.

Travis Preston, the Dean of the CalArts School of Theater and Artistic Director of the CalArts Center for New Performance, initiated the collaboration between CNP and STUDIO in 2017. He was attracted by the idea of accessing and revitalizing avant-garde traditions, a vision shared by Korczakowska. “This idea is predicated on a theater that embraces all arts, abolishes genre, and forges a total transdisciplinary art practice,” he said. Adding that “both companies engage in cross-cultural dialogue between similar avant-garde artistic traditions – and together we create entirely singular original productions and projects.”

Inaugurating the partnership, Korczakowska visited CalArts in 2017 to work with student artists on exploring Witkiewicz’s notion of “pure form.” In 2018, artists from the extended CalArts community visited Warsaw and, together with STUDIO’s resident company, developed performances, installations, video projects, and creative workshops. Supervised by Preston as an artistic response to Studio’s site and tradition, these projects culminated in a three-day CalArts Festival in Poland. The CNP/STUDIO collaboration continues in Los Angeles and Poland, and culminates with Korczakowska’s staging of WITKACY at REDCAT. 

WITKACY / Two-Headed Calf is funded by the Mickiewicz Institute and Trust for Mutual Understanding. 

CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), was established to provide a unique artist- and project-driven framework for the development and realization of original theater, music, dance, media and interdisciplinary projects. Extending the progressive work carried out at CalArts into a direct dialogue with professional communities at the local, national and international levels, CNP offers an alternative model to support emerging directions in the performing arts. 

Studio Teatrgaleria is a place for inventive experiments conducted by artists representing various artistic domains. With reference to its avant-garde tradition and with Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz as its patron, STUDIO establishes a space for free speech where different disciplines of art intermingle: theatre, visual arts, music, and film. In accordance with the thoughts of Witkiewicz, the artists at STUDIO have an opportunity to carry out aesthetic experiments. STUDIO does not establish a programme, but a PLACE, where one can think differently than in the reality programmed by politicians and advertising agents. The starting point is the question of the future of artistic theatre in Poland and Europe and, more precisely, how can it defend its position in the current social, economic and political situation.