Polish Theatre in America, specifically in Philadelphia was a dream of actor Adam Mularczyk, while he was still in Warsaw long before he landed at Kennedy airport on June 24, 1973.
Philadelphia was a large city with a huge Polish ethnicity with boundless
Adam was not discouraged by the existing state of affairs and with great
enthusiasm undertook the search for supporters to help in the matter of
establishing a Polish Theatre in Philadelphia. After the initial
unsuccessful attempts in creating interest in such an undertaking with
prominent Polish Americans in the city, his friends advised him to contact
Henry Wyszynski, who was the President of the Polish American Congress
(Eastern Pennsylvania district) at that time and Eugenia Dowgul, who was
one of the directors of the Associated Polish Home of Philadelphia.
Now it was time to find actors for the new group. Help came from largely overlooked Polish radio personality Teodor Przybyla, who day after day advertised on his program an appeal to join this new Polish Theatre even though he himself did not believe that people would come forward. Amidst this pessimistic prediction, after one of his shows the following day, the phones began to ring with people who were interested in joining the Theatre. These people believed they had artistic talents and want to work with this fledgling Polish Theatre.
November 11, 1973 was a truly historic day. It was the day of the first meeting of the group and was the rebirth of Polish Theatre in Philadelphia. As a result of the radio advertisements, nearly 100 people came to that first meeting. Adam felt himself fortunate, and that night patiently interviewed all the candidates and classified them according to their talents and to the benefits they could provide the group. He distributed to everyone their role in the group and their responsibilities.
The first play that was chosen for the group was a traditional, K.H. Rostworowski's "Niespodzianka", which was performed in the Krakow by the Underground Theatre- KTP, organized by Adam in 1940. Adam was very familiar with this play and loved it very much. Now he was working on it with his new amateur group. He worked intensively yet patiently teaching them theatrical skills. Caught up in the enthusiasm of the work, no one paid much attention to the long hours or the often times "colorful" language of their director. The setting was ideal; although the work was hard for both Adam and his actors. Some people came to rehearsals from very faraway, while Adam himself not owning a car yet relied on public transportation to get to Polish Home.
The premiere performance of K. H. Rostworowski's "Niespodzianka", directed
by Adam Mularczyk was given by the Polish Dramatic Theatre at the Associated
Polish Home in March of 1974 using decorations that were handmade by Adam
and was received with great enthusiasm by the audience in attendance. Among
the cast members was one professional, the operatic star Teresa Malc.
She loved the theater and agreed to play a part in stark contrast to her
image as a primadonna. She shared the role of an old woman with the
equally lovely Janka Sikorska. Fantastic in the role the father/drunkard
was Tadeusz Bajda, who was also the senior member of the cast. However
the true gem of the cast was Krzysztof Wierzbicki, who with great skill
took on three parts in the play, The Narrator/Prologue, Frank & Abramek.
The play received fantastic reviews in the New York based Nowy Dziennik
the Associated Polish Home bulletin, the Philadelphia-based "Gwiazda",
the Chicago "Gwiazda Polarna" and in the Polish press itself, "Slowo Powszechne"
and in "Przekroj".
This beautiful debut for the Polish Dramatical Theatre in Philadelphia however did not guarantee a successful further development. Voices of dissension were heard; voices that complained that the long hours invested in Theatre were conflicting with hours better spent investing in careers; voices that complained that the director was too demanding and that the play they were rehearsing was too depressing. Slowly the weaker members of the cast began to slip away. The situation was worsened by the late arrival of the new scripts for the play "Zolnierz Królowej Madagaskaru". Apparently the scripts were lost for a few months en route to the United States from Poland. The theater group went into hibernation in 1976, but it did not die.
The founder firmly believed that the theater group would be reborn in a few years and tried to revive the Polish Dramatical Theatre with the help of advertisements for new members in churches and on the radio. He was still in contact with several of the original cast members of Niespodzianka. Too few new members answered the call, the excuse was usually about a matter of money. Adam began to collaborate with Zdzislaw Piorkowski and his television program by the name of "Kalejdoskop Polonijny" but he never abandoned his thoughts about the theater group. He was hoping for the same kind of miracle that had occurred in the production of Niespodzianka.
However it was not until January 1996 that Adam, who by this time was gravely ill, rose to the so-called challenge of forming a new theatrical group, this time with a group of younger people who were inspired by his enthusiasm. With the help of Stefan Skorczynski, Adam picked out a handful of young people from the Polish Intercollegiate Club of Philadelphia for the nucleus of the new theater group. Krzysztof Wierzbicki, the seasoned veteran of the first group join this new group of actors, and with these people Adam began the task of producing the Jan Kanty Gregorowicz comedy entitled "Werbel Domowy". This play was very dear to Adam because it came from the region in which Adam grew up - Krakow - the city where, as a young man, he had also first produced this play in his Krakow Underground Theatre during the World War II.
The first rehearsals were held in Adam's home every Tuesday and consisted of stories about the Theatre, memories and instructions about stage presence. Among the participants in these initial rehearsals only Krzysztof Wierzbicki had any experience in Theatre by way of Niepodzianka, the remainder had only experience in the way of Polish folk dancing. This was their first theatrical undertaking. There were many difficulties mainly fluency in the Polish language. These young people, many of whom, were born the United States received no formal education in Polish language and relied on what they had learned from the painstaking efforts of their parents and sometimes their grandparents. Adam did not shy away from these setbacks and patiently worked on the play. To his delight, these young people made meaningful progress. Stefan Skorczynski, to whom Adam, in 1973, had promised the role of Jozefek in "Werbel Domowy", was particularly enthusiastic. Stefan was 11 years old at the time. As fate would have it, many years would go by until this promise would finally be kept.
Adam was fortunate to find two sisters, Kasia and the very young Zosia Suberska to play the roles of Basia and her mother Babalina. The role of Janek and the old Babala were played by Adam Zazula and Zbyszek Redziak, both accountants in real life. Krzysztof Wierzbicki received the role of the Urban, a character which Adam Mularczyk himself played in a performance in Krakow. Unfortunately, Adam's failing health did not allow him to bring this work the completion. We lost him on June 12th, 1996. On the day of the funeral, the orphaned actors vowed to finish this work and bring this play to the stage. The actors kept this solemn oath even though it was not an easy task. There were difficulties of every kind; the cast members frequently changed. Of the original six cast members only three performed in the premier presentation of the play. The group gained exceptional replacements; Basia - Teresa Wojcik, Babalina- Agnieszka Kozlowska, Janek - Andrzej Bejnar. Now Krzysztof Wierzbicki worked intensely with the young actors, drawing on his experience in collaboration with Adam during Niepodzianka. Also of great help to the group was a visitor to Philadelphia and also a dear friend of Adam's, the actor - Witold Sadowy. Rehearsals took place at the Associated Polish Home. The group formally adopted the name Adam Mularczyk Theater Group now under the direction and care of Stefan Skorczynski, Krzysztof Wierzbicki and Zofia Mularczyk.
The premier performance of Werbel Domowy was advertised on Polish radio and television programs and took place on April 18th, 1999 at the Associated Polish Home in Philadelphia. The play was a huge success and inspired new actors to fill the ranks of the group. The group now consists of about 20 members and reflects a large diversity in ages and occupations. There are doctors, students, chemists, teachers, and computer specialists. There are also very young members who are still in high school as well as university students. Despite serious professional and educational responsibilities, these people find the time to participate in weekly evening rehearsals at the Polish Home.
Immediately after the premiere of "Werbel Domowy", the group began to work on the next project originally envisioned by Adam Mularczyk, the performance of the Polish traditional Christmas play detailing the events surrounding the Nativity - "Jaselka". The script was written by Father P. Turbak, and staged by Adam Mularczyk. The play called for a cast of about 30 actors, that, even with the expanded group, forced the actors to take on two and sometimes three different roles, which created formidable memorization tasks and an even greater donation of precious time to the group. Inevitably, as with any group this size, personal matters began to conflict with the progress of putting on the next play. In addition, the group went through several painful cast member changes, especially the need to replace Krzysztof Wierzbicki and others that caused the immediate reassignment of roles and unavoidable delays. Despite these setbacks, our group, presently under the care and direction of Stefan Skorczynski, Grzegorz Gorski and Zofia Mularczyk, brought to the stage the group's premiere performance of "Jaselka" in 5 acts on January 28th, 2001 at the Associated Polish Home. As with "Werbel Domowy", "Jaselka" was thoroughly advertised on Polish radio and television programs. The performance received very favorable reviews with the live audience present that day in Polish Home as well as with the local press. The acting, the music, decorations and costumes all received equal praise.
Soon after the premiere of "Jaselka" the group begun to work on a new play, a comedy by Michal Balucki "Grube Ryby". The cast was selected from among the actors of "Jaselka". However during almost a year of rehearsing the necessary changes in casting were introduced. At the begining of year 2002 the play was ready for the premiere. For the last three month before the premiere we were benefiting from the artistic consultation of Witold Sadowy, Polish professional actor and director. The dress rehearsal of "Grube Ryby" took place in Associated Polish Home on January 27, 2002 with the audience of invited friends. Premiere performance presented on February 17, 2002 was a huge success. The audience was very pleased, praised the acting, scenography, costiums - awarding the actors with a great applause and a standing ovation. We are planning to give more performances of "Grube Ryby" in Philadelphia and some other locations where active Polonia groups exist.
In January 2002 the activity of our Theater has been expand into Radio Program. Due to a kind interest of Walentyna Adamczyk - host of "Radio Zblizenia", we were able to broadcast the first premiere of our Radio Theater. It was play "Dama Karowa" written by our colleague Grzegorz Gorski. The play was presented in three parts and it become the inauguration of the first Polish Radio Theater in the USA.
Our group now accepted the name of Teatr Dramatyczny im. Adama Mularczyka w Filadelfii (Adam Mularczyk Dramatic Theater in Philadelphia).
For more information about Polish theatrical groups all over the world we invite you to visit our Internet WebSite - http://ptak.delspec.com.
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