21/05 – 17:00
22/05 – 15:00
POL > FR / NL
The Kunstenfestivaldesarts is inviting the living legend of Polish theatre, Krystian Lupa, to Brussels. His multi-award winning play, Factory 2, is a fantasy built around the historic figure of Andy Warhol and his Factory. Lupa imagines what might have become of this mythical New York studio. He combines the utopias of the 1960s with the harsh reality of our age, Warhol’s screen tests with contemporary happenings. His Warhol is a shy man as much as he is a leader of a micro ‘society of the spectacle’: the artist as a master manipulator, leading light and voyeur. But is this really about Warhol or Lupa? In a final division, the Polish director has developed his own show, the fruit of a long piece of improvised work, by adopting the creative methods of the pop artist and using them in his acting company, Stary Teatr. Removing the boundaries between real actors and fictional characters and between historic figures and current ones, he orchestrates an inspired manipulation. Total theatre offering immersion in the midst of the creative process. Monumental!
Screenplay, direction & set design
Iga Gańczarczyk, Magda Stojowska
Piotr Skiba, Zbigniew W. Kaleta, Krzysztof Zawadzki, Adam Nawojczyk, Iwona Bielska, Sandra Korzeniak, Małgorzata Hajewska-Krzysztofik, Urszula Kiebzak, Piotrek Polak, Katarzyna Warnke, Bogdan Brzyski, Iwona Budner, Joanna Drozda, Małgorzata Zawadzka, Marta Ojrzyńska, Tomasz Wygoda, Szymon Kaczmarek, Łukasz Hołuj, Rafał Libner
French translation & subtitling
Stary Teatr (Krakow)
Polish Cultural Institute in Brussels
Interview with Krystian Lupa
Krystian Lupa, do you agree that Factory 2 and then Marilyn which followed appear to mark a turning point or at least a new stage in your work? What was your thinking behind it and what research did you do that led you to these plays?
Krystian Lupa: I was inspired by Victor Bockris’ biography of Warhol or rather the intention I found in it. In the films Warhol made at the Factory, his aim was not to tell a story, but to provoke situations that bring about events and sudden appearances of personality as if they’re spurting out. I realised that his intention was very close to what I’m looking for with my actors in theatre and what some contemporary writers are exploring as new ways of narrating [This has been one of Krystian Lupa’s key areas of research in recent years: becoming free from the linearity of the story, from “storytelling” theatre, and looking for new narrative processes, Ed.]. What we see in Warhol’s final films, which were shot as happenings, aren’t fictional characters or the actors’ real personalities, but radicalised characters, human creatures that we observe like animals in a zoo. This phenomenon becomes possible within a community that has a special aura, like a table of spiritualists connected by mechanisms of improvisation and sharing a common and creative fantasy, but one where everyone is linked to the character by the dream and the subconscious as well [An allusion to the work of C.G. Jung (1875-1961) whose research has been a major inspiration in Lupa’s work, Ed.]. As through the experiment of Factory 2,this offers the actornew territories for exploring his character. This new type of experiment engenders a different relationship between the constantly evolving character and the actor’s intimate sphere, between his subconscious and his imagination. Having a character constructed differently allows the actor to introduce new modes of narration into reality and construct theatrical performances differently.
Why have you chosen to focus on Andy Warhol? What does he mean to you?
Krystian Lupa: He had a magnificently destructive role and made an undertaking to demolish established codes and criteria in art, as well as being the leader of a very remarkable group which was a work of art in itself. Andy Warhol can be considered one himself. He was one of the first people to have an intuition that what is of prime importance in art is not its products or its results, but the artistic posture at the very root of the creative act. I realised that the creative attitude found in the Silver Factory would be a source of inspiration and provide provocative material, allowing actors to build up a model of the character away from a realistic process.
What led you to select this “episode” in the life (or the “biography”) of Warhol on which the show is based – the two days around the premiere of the film Blow Job?
Krystian Lupa: In Bockris’ biography there is a very suggestive description of the famous Blow Job premiere at the Silver Factory. Ultra Violet also talks about it very intriguingly in her autobiography Famous for 15 Minutes. What was of great interest to me, though it wasn’t formulated until the end, was the risk being taken in the areas of morals and culture, as well as the profound burden of misunderstanding in the film. As born out in Ultra Violet’s account, even within the Factory group there was incomprehension and a refusal to accept the meaning of the message in the event that Blow Job constituted. This film is like a tremendous stunt striking at the heart of a huge and powerful taboo around morals. You have to have some imagination to see the event beyond its pornographic or scandalous outline. Seeing this film is like taking part in a unique kind of observation, that of an individual obliged by the camera’s presence to offer a protective interpretation of the situation he is experiencing. Warhol placed this man in such a strange situation by the fact of it being filmed that he has to contradict this situation. Over and above the shame. How does the man get through it faced with the suffering inflicted by the lie? How can he keep his dignity? Whatever the case, the film caused great scandal and controversy and Warhol and his friends were able to consider it a failure when it was screened. On top of that, a film with a protagonist selected by chance from outside the Factory must have felt like a provocation to all the stars of the Silver Factory who were waiting their turn to act in Warhol’s films. All this led to a build up of crisis and controversy within Warhol’s group, tension between Andy and the others, an explosive situation, a mechanism tending towards the sudden appearance of meaning hidden until that point or in the order of the subconscious. And that’s the kind of thing I wanted to have in my work.
The first stage of Factory 2 was a lengthy period of improvisation with the actors. Why and how did you work like that?
Krystian Lupa: With the actors taking part in this, I wanted the characters and their “basic” needs to be born in them before tackling the scenario, and developed to such a point that they can move through the space created by the characters like living beings, with their cartography of sympathies and antipathies, desires and dangers etc. I suggested that each member of our group search for an identity among the people who frequented the real Factory, someone with whom they’d fall in love, someone to identify with. Very strangely, the actors all chose their characters from the Factory themselves. The casting of roles was done by the actors themselves. We watched the improvisation methods Warhol used in his films and screen tests, the motivations and mechanisms of provocation put in place to unleash their own personalities and create human relationships with their partners. The first set of improvisation work to which all the participants were subject was the development of a Warhol-like screen test. The theme of improvisation for the actor was “my fucking me”. Each actor remained in front of the camera which was filming while he or she responded to this theme as sincerely as possible in relation to his or her own perception of the subject being improvised. They alone were the judge of the degree of truth of the event. Then with a “half-emerged” character, the actors met up in pairs in bedroom scenes to enter into a personal dialogue in a situation of intimate proximity. This area of exploration of characters being created or evolving formed the embryo for the script.
Generally speaking, what does working actors with mean for you and how do you view it?
Krystian Lupa: I’m an enemy of the term “method”. My work is an attempt to create an autonomous area of character development for the actor. There is then the experiment of interior monologue provoked and developed by the actor before he even starts firming up his character in the scenes. Of course any improvisation technique depends primarily on the dimensions and depth of the active imaginary landscape [“Landscape” is one of the fundamental processes in Krystian Lupa’s work with his actors. The development of this landscape is what allows the actor to operate through the character, Ed.]. Starting from there, if you leave open the requirement for improvisation up to the last rehearsal and even during the whole show, it is precisely during this last stage that most eruptions happen, violent illuminations generated corporally, which in a completely new way take the actor/character more synthetically and revealingly through the situation on stage.
Piotr Skiba: You have to stay open to improvisation during the show for the actors to retain this potential for revelatory improvisation. Theatre usually offers fixed situations, but here the actor shouldn’t consider any situation on stage as fixed.
Krystian Lupa: All of this means we have to take immediate, very quick decisions, and make instantaneous changes where the staging is just a corporeal intervention by an additional character merging into the situation on stage. During Warhol’s work, this kind of thing was an obvious and natural process because that’s how Warhol took part with his team in recording improvised happenings-situations.
Factory 2,like Marilyn,plays a lot on the expansion of time – notably by expanding dramaturgical or dramatic motives. Alongside episodes of dramatic tension, we also find long “unnecessary” scenes (in the Hollywood sense) – very intimate or trivial moments during which the characters seem on the face of it to be exchanging banalities...
Krystian Lupa: That comes from Warhol’s refusal to separate the important from the non-important, the banal from the non-banal during his observation of reality and therefore his own creative narration. Warhol was a follower of human mumbling, of shapeless discourse, of gutter discourse. And that’s very close to what I do.
Piotr Skiba: He contradicts the notion of an elevated art form, in the same way that he challenges the canons of painting. It’s the same idea that he applies to cinematographic art and that we also transpose into our work as actors.
Krystian Lupa: In non-dramatic and empty situations, the personality is more exposed, more immersed in itself, therefore truer because it has been liberated from the strategic lie of dramatic action. The truth of the character is revealed when he frees himself from the issue of crucial scenes. In scenes where nothing happens, you watch the character emerge in an obvious way, whereas when something happens, the audience focuses on what’s happening. We come back to this idea of observation in a zoological garden – you could even say an “anthropozoological” garden. Just as Warhol responded to Mary Woronov who told him that she found Blow Job boring, I want to be able to say: “I like things that are boring.”
Are some passages in Factory 2 improvised still further during the performance or is everything written down?
Krystian Lupa: Some scenes are written down very precisely in the script, such as the three scenes in the second act. They have a psychological character with a precise and stable construction of interior situations. The first act also has a skeleton script, but the actors immersed in the shared improvisation scenes can modify their lines to match what is produced on stage each time. Furthermore, situations and dialogues unfold simultaneously on a second level and these are always improvised. The third act, in keeping with its title “Improvisations”,imposes the condition of improvisation, but even then there is a skeleton scenario, if only to make surtitling abroad possible.
Why do you have the camera on stage?
Krystian Lupa: The constant presence of the camera was a hallmark of Warhol’s “factory”. According to some, there was a mania for wanting to record everything. The omnipresence of the camera caused a particular phenomenon in the private lives of characters from the Factory. They were always on the boundary of the intimate and of creation, without making a distinction between what was or wasn’t a “work of art”. On the one hand, they had stopped noticing the camera, which allowed situations to be recorded with an incredible degree of intimacy and openness. On the other hand, this presence of the camera caused – and maintained – a state of constant excitement, as well as heightened energy in their creative posture. There was something surrealist, absurd even, in the gestures, attitudes and everyday dialogues of regular visitors to the Factory. This fact of living in an intimate way with the camera also changed their relationship with it. Of course they didn’t behave with the stiffness of amateurs, but nor did they stick to Hollywood’s convention of never noticing the camera.
Interview by David Sanson for the Festival d’Automne de Paris 2010
Supplemented by Anna Labedzka, Agnieszka Zgieb and André Deho Neves
Translated by Agnieszka Zgieb & Claire Tarring
Born in 1943 in Jastrzebie Zdroj, Poland, Krystian Lupa began his career in the late 1970s in the Teatr Norwida of Jelenia Gora, while directing several productions at the Stary Teatr in Krakow. He was appointed director there in 1986. Since 1983, Krystian Lupa has been teaching directing at the Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in Krakow. In a text entitled The Theatre of Revelation, Krystian Lupa outlines his conception of theatre as an instrument of exploration and transgression of the boundaries of individuality. He has edited or adapted for the stage, works by writers such as Musil (Sketches from A Man without Qualities, 1990), Dostoyevsky (The Brothers Karamazov, 1990), Rilke (Malte, or the Triptych of the Prodigal Son, 1991), Thomas Bernhard (The Lime Works, 1992, and Extinction), Chekhov (Platonov, 1996), Hermann Broch (The Sleepwalkers, 1998), Werner Schwab (The Presidents), Bulgakov (The Master and Marguerite, 2002), Friedrich Nietzsche and Einar Schleef (Zaratustra, 2006). His work has been distinguished with many prizes, the most recent being the Europe Theatre Prize, in 2009.Back to top