MAGNIFICAT

© Krzysztof Krzysztofiak
"MAGNIFICAT is a statement about the woman in the Church's system of power, made without the use of sacred or non-sacred words. It is a post-opera form which gives rise to the polyphonic, pop-cultural MAGNIFICAT"
Marta Górnicka
In its legendary production „MAGNIFICAT”, THE CHORUS OF WOMEN exposes how the Catholic church usurps power over Polish women’s bodies. “Our country is so Catholic that even the majority of atheists are Catholics. They are practicing non-believers,” the CHORUS sings. It is confronted with the most important image in the Catholic Church – the figure of the Holy Virgin Mary. Its ideological and aesthetic power. The magnetic force of this holy icon of femininity.

Bible verses, culinary recipes, fragments of Euripides’ Bacchae are mixed by the chorus with computer sounds, the clicking of shutters, the flash of lamps and quotes from the press. Rhythmized speech and pop culture clichés intertwine with traditional forms of liturgical music. The notes of the Magnificat are sampled and they become the accompaniment for cultural texts and advertisements. It is a remix of the sounds of ideology.

MAGNIFICAT premiered in 2011. It was Marta Górnicka’s second performance with THE CHORUS OF WOMEN, the all-female ensemble established in order to form a modern choral theatre and to regain the female voice for the theatre at the same time. Both had been forgotten and buried in the androcentric form and conventions of modern drama theatre. The revival of women’s collective voice in relation to the ancient idea of the chorus as a political body was a strong aesthetic and political act, especially in the context of the strengthening conservative forces in Polish society.

Excerpt of interview with Marta Górnicka, “Wprost”, 6 June, 2011

Who, or maybe what, is the Virgin Mary – for you personally?
– A myth which shapes us, and which confronts every woman with such an enormous task that not one of us is capable of performing it. She is a virgin, immaculate, but also a mother who gives birth to a son. Well of course – a son! The Queen and Mother of the Universe, but also a hostage of community fantasies. The Virgin Mary is the perfect tool for ideological control over women, for the paradoxical offer they are faced with on a daily basis – which they cannot refuse, but also cannot perform. “Elevation through humiliation” at the service of the Father and the Son. The Virgin Mary is a wonderful image – half-closed eyes, an alabaster complexion, angelic and silent lips. Who could resist her? In my show, this sacred image finally starts to speak with its own voice, she distributes flyers and appears on Lego pieces. She no longer has a high voice, but one as hoarse as Darth Vader’s. The Virgin Mary shouts, laughs, and even rattles […] I wanted to write another libretto for The Chorus of Women, a kind of social essay, about the power the Church exerts over the female body. I get into several topics simultaneously: gender, body, ideological taming, language as a tool for control and the different gods of our world. This time I wanted to disarm the image of the woman – which is accursed in the image of the Virgin Mary. To see what hides beneath that blue dress.

The most important and fundamental factor here is the choral form. But it is surprising and built anew. This remodelling and endowment (or perhaps restoration) of its social function creates a powerful force.
Ewa Guderian- Czaplińska

MAGNIFICAT has received a number of awards, such as the 2012 Grand Prix at the 47th Small Forms Theatre Review KONTRAPUNKT in Szczecin, Poland, or the Grand Prize for Marta Górnicka for Stage Direction and the Audience Award for Best Performance at the 3rd m-Teatr Koszalin Youth Confrontations in 2012. It has been awarded the prestigious Silver Laurel Wreath for the Best International Production at the Theatre Festival MESS in Sarajevo as well as two special awards: the Sound of MESS Award from the journalists of Radio Sarajevo and the Hrabri Novi Svijet Award from Dani magazine. Marta Górnicka has also received the first prize for stage direction at the “Fast Forward” European Festival for Young Stage Directors in Braunschweig, Germany.

MAGNIFICAT has been presented at numerous international festivals, including: in France (at the La grande halle de la Villette in Paris, the METTRE EN SCÈNE Festival in Rennes, the Festival International de Théâtre SENS INTERDITS in Lyon, the European Theatre Festival PREMIÈRES in Strasbourg, the Festival La Rose des Vents in Villeneuve d’Ascq, the Théâtre National d’Arras, the Festival Écoute/Voir in Tours, the Festival Parallèle in Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Martigues), in Germany (at the BERLINER FESTSPIELE Foreign Affairs, the Hebbel Am Uffer – Berlin, the „Fast Forward” European Festival for Young Stage Directors in Braunschweig, the Forum Freies Theater in Düsseldorf), in Switzerland (at the Dokumentartage IT’S THE REAL THING in Basel, the Antigel Festival in Geneva, the Festival de la Cité in Lausanne), Bosnia and Herzegovina (at the International Theater Festival MESS Sarajevo), in England (at the European Arts and Theatre Festival in Notthingham), in Greece (at the Onasis Cultural Center in Athens), in Holland (at the SPRING Festival in Utrecht,) Austria (at the International Performing Arts Festival SZENE in Salzburg) and Spain (Theatros del Canal) in 2020.

As a video installation, MAGNIFICAT was presented at the Palais am Festungsgraben as part of an exhibition accompanying the 4th Berliner Herbstsalon festival 2019; at the Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art in Warsaw, Poland; in the frame of  MULTITUDE Marta Górnicka’s monographic exhibition at the Berliner Gallery Weekend 2020.

 

CREDITS

MAGNIFICAT

Concept, libretto, director: Marta Górnicka
Score: IEN
Choreography: Anna Godowska
Literary advisor: Agata Adamiecka
Conducting consultant: Marta Szeliga
Stage design cooperation: Anna Maria Karczmarska
Costume design collaboration: Aleksandra Harasimowicz
Light design: Tomasz Sierotko
Stage management: Marek Susdorf
director of video: Kasia Adamik
director of photography: Mateusz Wołoczka
camera operators: Kasia Adamik, Mateusz Wołoczko, Michał Żuberek
editing: Kasia Adamik, Hubert Komerski
sound design and editing: Adam Wilk
color correction: Raman Kriszna Moorti
production: Paulina Drzastwa, Anna Galas

Cast: Justyna Chaberek, Ewa Chomicka, Alina Czyżewska, Paulina Drzastwa, Alicja Herod, Anna Jagłowska, Katarzyna Jaźnicka, Ewa Konstanciak , Ewa Kossak, Katarzyna Lalik, Agnieszka Makowska, Kamila Michalska,Katarzyna Migdalska, Jolanta Nałęcz-Jawecka, Natalia Obrębska, Anna Rączkowska, Anna Rusiecka, Monika Sadkowska, Kaja Stępkowska, Karolina Szulejewska, Iwona Tołbińska, Agata Wencel, Karolina Więch, Anna Wodzyńska, Anna Wojnarowska

duration: 50 minutes (no intermission)

producer: Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute, Warsaw
premiered on 27 June, 2011 at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw

MAGNIFICAT -THE CHORUS OF WOMEN was voted as “Teatr” magazine’s BEST ALTERNATIVE THEATRE PERFORMANCE IN POLAND in the 2010/2011 season and as the BEST THEATRE SCORE

 

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