Director in Perspective
Maciej Karpinski, Theatre of Andrej Wajda^ Cambridge University Press, 1989, $ 30.
We know Andrej Wajda as a prominent Polish film-maker of contemporary Europe* His highly aesthetic, soul-searching political films, films like Ashes and Diamonds (1958), Promised Land (1974), Men of Marble (1976), Men of Iron (1981), Danton (1982), are well known the world over. What is not so well known is Wajda's equally great contribution in the field of Polish theatre. His involvement in theatre dates back to 1959, when he had already made four feature films, A Generation (1955), I do toward the Sun (1955), Canal (1956) and Ashes and Diamonds (1958).
The book under review by Maciej Karpinski who, apart from being a prominent drama critic in Poland has been a close collaborator of Wajda, reveals aspects of Wajda which hardly anyone knows. In the space of eight swiftly moving chapters Karpinski discusses the theatre productions created by Wajda, his relation to the Polish state, the Solidarity movement and the Polish church, and his involvement in the struggles of the Polish people. Further, Karpinski writes about the role of theatre in Poland from early times and places Wajda's theatre productions against this background. The theatre in Poland has had little to do with mere entertainment. On the contrary, it has had a prestigious social function, as defined by the historical fact that throughout the period when the country was partitioned, from the close of the eighteenth century to 1918, the theatre was practically the only venue for the Poles to cultivate their national culture. This gave rise to the notion of the theatre's political and moral mission, a notion which continues to determine the direction in which it moves today. As an artist who is particularly sensitive to national traditions, Wajda understands perfectly what Polish society expects from the theatre—a conscientious voice which takes up historical, ethical issues and discusses fundamental human and national problettns. For the^Poles the
Social Scientist, Vol. 18, No. 10, October 1990