Maciej Nowak
Find a job up your ass
Przekrój no 13, 2.04.2013

The system fears a chorus. A chorus of the critical. A chorus of the outraged. A chorus generates collective energy, a kind of energy those in power don’t take kindly to. The current government traffics in individuals, puts them on an ideological pedestal, proclaims them exceptional, but in reality oppresses them. Every attempt to unite individuals arouses suspicion. Every socially oriented solution meets with reluctance. The list of censored institutions includes trade unions, cooperatives, public transport, public healthcare, social security, universal education, savings and loans, and arts institutions. Collectivity incites aversion. Unless of course it’s an NGO scrupulously executing commissions for the national or local government. Marta Górnicka’s choral theatre unleashes the unbridled power of collectivity. In the group’s two previous productions, This Is the Chorus Speaking (2010) and Magnificat (2011), this was a community of women united in resistance to the patriarchy. Their most recent premiere, Requiemachine, liberates the energy of an outraged group of women and men. It’s a bit like a drug-induced experience, being overcome by a chanting group

Yes! It sounds dangerous, but this is just one register of this play. Yet the Chorus moves in ambivalent registers. It shows and lets us feel the power of the collective voice, because this form acts like a call to a joint song. But at the same time the Chorus reveals that there is no communal project of change that focuses and directs this energy, translating it into a real effect; there is no language to describe the possible transgres- sion of the neoliberal order of apparent freedom, ownership and individuality. The Chorus speaks of revolution as an impossible project in which nobody believes (“I won’t tell you anything about politics, it doesn’t interest me much. I think that if I were to really take an interest in politics I’d have to devote myself to clandestine activities or something like that: the revolution…”). And immediately after this ironic “revolu- tionary manifesto”, a minimalist programme of individual happiness and private freedom appears. “The revolution, revo- lution”, comes the refrain of individual, weak and insipid voices. But in the next phrase, the Chorus will shout from the depths of their guts, “I don’t ask for a lot of things. Just you and spring. Only for the grass to be green. Just you and spring.” The Chorus throws itself into this text with a despairing power, as if it wanted to drown out everything that grows outside of private happiness, pleasure and security (i.e. the minimalist project of the left, for which more important are the issues of civil partnerships, emancipation and the environment – middle-class problems that are part of the vision of a radically individualistic civilisation in which personal fulfilment remains the 125 fundamental principle). Then comes “Life, – lust” and the queer passage on “young boys in search of sport” – everything, then, that might drown out the communal song and divide the community based on criteria of identity.

The Chorus sings a mighty song, yet at the same time seems unaware of its own power, as if in fact it did not hear itself. What is behind “We work in daily sweat and toil” is not the poet Władysław Broniewski’s belief that working together pro- duces a true community capable of changing the world. For Broniewski, everything always led to a straightforward proclamation of change, the revolution in which he genuinely believed (and here we see all the unbearable irony of his biography, with the Word about Stalin for which he will always be remembered and his place as court poet of the People’s Republic of Poland). There are none of these curse like recurring visions of revolution in the text Requiemachine. In Broniewski’s work there is a certain essential tension between the belief in the – as you [Maciej Nowak] put it – performative power of words 126 (my language – rifle, words –bullets) and the sense of powerlessness (I don’t understand, I never, will name / anything from far or near / I’ve trampled words to a pulp). I think that this kind of stale- mate, transported to today’s reality and reassigned to the collective protagonist–community, is the axis of this play.

This content has been restricted to logged in users only. Please login to view this content.