Marta Górnicka is a theatre director, author, re-discoverer of the choral principle. She describes the chorus as one of the most powerful elements of the theatre. Graduate of the Faculty of Drama Directing at the Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw. She studied at the Frederic Chopin School of Music in Warsaw and at the Warsaw University.
THE CHORUS which she brings into existence as the sole protagonist of her performances is always both a critical tool to examine modern mechanisms of control, exclusion and violence, and a vehicle of community. In her works, Górnicka often probes the relationship between the individual and society, she experiments with new forms of collective voices. She develops practices in the domain of the political character of the body, voice and language.
In 2019 she founded POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE (PVI), social laboratory of a modern chorus theatre in Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin where she develops the CHORUS in its formal and political dimension. The institute is a workshop centre for the use of the collective voice/body and language. PVI’s performing team consists of seventeen performers from Israel, Germany, Poland, Lebanon, France, Brazil or South Korea.
In 2009 with collaboration the Theatre Institute in Warsaw she founded CHÓR KOBIET, THE CHORUS OF WOMEN – a modern tragic chorus, writing librettos and directing the company’s subsequent performances. Her work was accompanied by the idea of „recovering/creating a woman’s voice” as the form the most repressed out of the western stage – and of using that gesture to regain women and the chorus for theatre. Experimental, laboratory work led her to the creation of a formula for the new chorus theatre – an aesthetic, formal and ideological concept of theatre which merges original power of collective voice, fundamental for the western scene with contemporary criticism of language as a tool of power.
Górnicka’s performances THIS IS THE CHORUS SPEAKING, MAGNIFICAT, REQUIEMACHINE, M(OTHER) COURAGE, HYMN TO LOVE, were invited and presented worldwide during more than sixty theatre and directing festivals in Greece, France, Germany, Japan, Ukraine, Switzerland, India, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Italy, Russia, Chile, Spain and other countries.
The events included festivals: BERLINER FESTSPIELE Foreign Affairs, Festival International de Théâtre SENS INTERDITS in Lyon, International Theater Festival THEATER SPEKTAKEL in Zurich, Athens & Epidaurus Festival in Athens, International Theatre Festival MESS in Sarajevo, New European Theatre Festival in Moscow, SPIELART Festival in Munich, Festival METTRE EN SCENE – Rennes, Bharat Rang Mahotsav Festival in New Delhi, LESSINGTAGE in Thalia Theater Hamburg, SPRING Festival Utrecht and HERBSTSALON Berlin.
The first project THIS IS THE CHORUS SPEAKING: only 6 to 8 hours, only 6 to 8 hours… premiered on 13 June 2010. According to the „Teatr” monthly, the play was recognised as the best Polish alternative and musical theatre production in the season 2009/2010. It was followed by MAGNIFICAT, opened on 27 June 2011. The production received the Main Jury Award at the 47th Review of Small Form Theatres (Przegląd Teatrów Małych Form) KONTRAPUNKT 2012 in Szczecin, the Main Jury Award for Marta Górnicka for the Direction and the Audience Award for the best production at the 3rd Koszalin Youth Confrontations „m-teatr” 2012. It was distinguished with the prestigious Silver Laurel Wreath award for the Best Production at the MESS International Theatre Festival in Sarajevo in the Future MESS category, receiving also two special prizes awarded by the journalists of Radio Sarajevo and the „Dani” Magazine – „Hrabri Novi Svijet”. In addition, Marta Górnicka received the main award for the direction at the „FastForward” European Festival for Young Directors in Braunschweig (Germany).
On March 24, 2013 an opening night of REQUIEMACHINE took place at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theater Institute in Warsaw. The libretto was based on poetic texts of Wladyslaw Broniewski. Marta’s third production is a continuation of her project for a modern tragic CHORUS that serves as means of critical reflection upon man as shaped by the norms of culture, society, the economy and religion. The performance was co-produced by La Filature-Scene Nationale, Mulhouse, Theatre National de Strasbourg, Le Maillon – Theatre de Strasbourg and Ringlokschuppen. In September 2013, Marta Górnicka staged THE CHORUS OF ROMA PEOPLE, a performance involving the Roma community in Košice, Slovakia, where the largest Roma ghetto in Europe is located. It was opened as part of the X-Apartment project within the framework of the European Capital of Culture 2013.
Górnicka develops the concept of modern chorus theatre in its formal and political dimension, transferring her search into a space of specifically understood social direction. In December 2014 in Tel Aviv, at the Museum of Modern Art, her subsequent production, MOTHER COURAGE WON’T REMAIN SILENT: A CHORUS FOR WARTIME was opened. For that project, Marta Górnicka invited a 60-member chorus of Arab and Jewish mothers, Israeli dancers-soldiers and Arab children. The performance thus involved groups functioning in radically clashing communities, which opened the possibility of expressing extreme emotions and direct interaction between those who are separated, in their day-to-day life, by an invisible barrier. The Israeli performance initiated the director’s European triptych built around MUTTER COURAGE. On 25 September 2015, M(OTHER) COURAGE premiered at the Staatstheater Braunschweig in Germany. In that production, Marta Górnicka gave the voice to the generation of conflict in Germany and Europe. The Europe of the madness of neo-nationalistic language, prejudice, fear and violence. The critics of NACHTKRITIK.de ranked the production among the best plays of the year 2015 in the German-speaking area. In 2016, M(OTHER) COURAGE won Marta Górnicka a nomination for the prestigious „DER FAUST” German Theatre Award in the stage direction category.
In the same year, Marta Górnicka created a political performance „CONSTITUTION FOR THE CHORUS OF POLES” at the Nowy Theatre in Warsaw. For that work, she gathered over 50 people from the right and left wing of the political conflict, sport fans, Jews, refugees, children, pensioners, members of the „Strzelec” association, people with Down syndrome, actors of THE CHORUS OF WOMEN. „The show premiered on the 1st of May 2016 i.e. the International Worker’s Day, during great national debate caused by the turmoil surrounding the Constitutional Tribunal. Marta Górnicka reacted to this crisis with a powerful gesture: she showed that Polish constitution is not a project of an ethnically homogeneous group, but very diverse group of individuals.”. (fragment of the program booklet for Late Polishness [Późna Polskość] exhibition at the Center for Contemporary Art in Warsaw) The performance was included in the main programme of the 7th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art and it was presented at the Tretyakov Gallery (September 2017-January 2018). The production was also shown in Berlin as part of the 3rd Herbstsalon at the Palais am Festungsgraben and at the international exhibition The State is Not a Work of Art at the Tallinn Art Hall in Estonia (2018). In 2017, after the protests around the CONSTITUTION in Poland, the performance was presented again at the Plac Defilad Square, in front of the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw.
The director’s European triptych around MUTTER COURAGE is closed by the HYMN TO LOVE for Orchestra, a Chorus of Plushies and Others. The image of an orchestra playing in extermination camps and the subject of the Holocaust becomes, for Górnicka, a starting point to address the threads of nationalist tendencies growing in Europe and the migration crisis. The Polish premiere of the production was held on 21 January at the Polski Theatre in Poznań, the German premiere on 11 June at the MAXIM GORKI THEATER in Berlin, and the French one on 12 November 2018 at the Théâtre des Celestines in Lyon. HYMN TO LOVE was distinguished with three awards for music, choreography, set design and costumes during the 10th Divine Comedy International Festival in Krakow, and nominated as the Best Musical Theatre Production in the voting conducted by the TEATR monthly. The production was presented during international theatre festivals in countries including Greece, Austria, Germany, Russia, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic and Italy.
On 28 May 2018, Marta Górnicka directed JEDEM DAS SEINE. EIN MANIFEST at the Kammerspiele in Munich. It is neo-fascism and backlash towards the female body that have become the subject of the latest production. Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin is the co-producer of the play. In the same year, during the celebration of the German Unity Day in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the premiere of GRUNDGESETZ. EIN CHORISCHER STRESSTEST von Marta Górnicka took place (prod. Maxim Gorki Theater). The Berliners, 50 people of different origins and languages,who participated in it tested how the German Fundamental Rights work out in a situation of crisis and conflict. Who is the subject of the German Constitution? To whom does it belong? Is the text guaranteeing fundamental rights „to all Germans” capable of stopping violence and racism? Is any text „guaranteeing” democracy capable of „defending” it? The critics of NACHTKRITIK.de ranked the production among the best plays of the year 2018 in the German-speaking area.
In 2019, Marta Górnicka won the “POLITYKA’S Passport” award for the contemporary concept of the ancient chorus as a vehicle of artistic and social change.
In autum 2019 Górnicka founded the POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE (PVI) at the Maxim Gorki Theatre, which defines itself as a workshop laboratory of modern chorus theatre. The institute researches and develops practices in the domain of the political character of the voice/body/language. It looks for practical answer to the question: How can the voice be used for freedom?
During Gallery Weekend Berlin 2020 had premiere MULTITUDE the first monographic exhibition of works by Marta Górnicka at Ebensperger Gallery Berlin. The title MULTITUDE refers to the collective subject with whom Marta Górnicka works. It indicates the radically political dimension of her artistic exploration.
On 11 September 2020 the first performance of the POLITICAL VOICE INSTITUTE COMMUNITY – AN APP FOR ONE PERSON had premiere in GORKI KIOSK. “The answer to the death of the COMMUNITY/ CHORUS is the ONE PERSON CHORUS. DIGITAL/RITUAL. DEFUSED. The CHORUS stops speaking in the literal sense. But it starts lip-syncing, uses technology which imitates voice, plays with the (non-)living voice, with distanced bodies and language, but it also multiplies its individual voice, turns the voice up to full volume! It is a CHORUS which functions somewhere between speaking and not speaking (like lip-syncing), but it is not silent. From one person, it grows into a multitude, it works with shreds, trash, key words, fragments of mythological songs and voices from computer games. It works with the scream, which comes from the very heart of the ritual, and with the digital laughter, which is its most powerful tool. This CHORUS plunges into death, but it still speaks in favour of life”.
Currently, Marta Górnicka is an artist in residence at Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin. Since the 2020/2021 season she has been a member of the Artistic Advisory Board, which advises Artistic Director Shermin Langhoff on the artistic direction of the Gorki Theatre.
On 31 July, 2021 Marta directed STILL LIFE A CHORUS FOR ANIMALS, PEOPLE AND OTHER LIVES in Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin. The performance creates vision of enlarged CHORUS, the CHORUS OF ALL BEINGS, community of all voices, living and dead, kids, ancestors, voices people murdered in Auschwitz and African tribes, animals and plants.
In Marta Górnicka’s works, the collective voice of the CHORUS gains revolutionary power. It is a tool of political engagement, but also a space for what is unconditionally common. The voice exits bodies and enters them – no matter the language, the background, the story, the identity or the religion. And in order to emit voice, one must take a breath – which is shared with others. In its very form, Marta Górnicka’s CHORUS communicates the basic human interdependence and the irreducible plurality of people.
Marta Górnicka developed a method of vocal-acting training for breath/voice/body, aimed at finding an organic voice. According to this method she has led drama workshops and masterclasses in many places, among others: Dresden, Tokyo, Berlin, Kiev, London, Tel Aviv, Nottingham, Lyon, Athens, Brussels, Havre, Tehran, Moscow, New Dehli, Paris.