Tadeusz Kantor - The Dead Class
Premiere: 15.11.1975, Krzysztofory Gallery, Kraków.
Dramatic séance. The performance was accompanied by the manifesto of the Theatre of Death. Kantor stated the idea of his theatre, where the idea of LIFE can only be reclaimed in play by LACK OF LIFE. As participants in the séance he invited Witkacy, Schulz and Gombrowicz. The stage of play has been demarcated by cones and ropes. In the closed space the process of recalling the past takes place. Space is filled by rows of school desks were Old Men sit. Each one is accompanied by a mannequin of childhood. Kantor, present on stage, decides the rhythm of coming to life and dying of the class. The Old Man are inflicted with aphasia and amnesia, can only remember fragments of old knowledge. They make faces and make phonetic blunders. They pick up and abandon roles from Witkacy’s play. In a somnambulist parade they leave and come back to the space of play. They call up and dismiss memories. Pedel stands up and launches into Austrian-Hungarian anthem, then sits back down. An Old Man in the toilet stays there for a suspiciously long time. The Old Man with a bike goes on nightly rambles. Sleepwalking Prostitute bares her breast. The hourglass delivery man reminds everyone of Past Perfect. A Woman behind the window shows the line between like and death. The lesson turns into moaning – waiting for the tragic fate of the Jews. It’s amplified by a piercing lullaby, sang by the Woman with a Mechanical Cradle. The Death figure is embodied by the Cleaning Lady, who cleans the mess left behind by life. The last scene is a dance of automatons, showcasing the impossibility of return to the old world.