Wiktor Bagiński, Martyna Wawrzyniak
March 5 2021
ca. 1 hour 40 min
Performance recommended for audience aged 16 and older.
Smoke machines used during the performance.
About the performance
In 1994, a nearly 30-year-old Nigerian, who lived in Poland, abandoned his newborn son. Thirty years later, his son embarks on a journey to the heart of his story. What is the truth and what is a myth in this family’s story? How to deal with racial stereotypes? How to free oneself from the hate?
“The Heart” is a documentary story of a young, black Polish man who embarks on a journey to find his biological father. The script is inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella and based on Wiktor Bagiński’s autobiographical writings. The play attempts to find political meanings hidden in the director’s personal story.
photos by Monika Stolarska
From the director
“My tragedy is not about being black. My tragedy is not even about being a black Pole. Tragedy that I am most afraid of – to paraphrase James Baldwin – is about accepting theology that rejects life. By that I mean accepting a possibility of being a subhuman. If there is such possibility, or rather if there is ever a glimpse of such a thought, then a fight for one’s humanity begins. This performance abandons discourse in favor of experience. Experience of loss and abandonment, that brought suffering. However it is the search of the source of the birth of hatred that brings carefree affirmation of ABSENCE. Absence of a father.”
direction, adaptation: Wiktor Bagiński
script: Wiktor Bagiński, Martyna Wawrzyniak
set design: Ania Oramus
costume design: Marcin Kosakowski
lighting design, video: Natan Berkowicz
music: Bartek Prosuł
choreography: Krystyna Lama Szydłowska
The story presented in The Heart circulates between an
autobiography and a broadly defined post-colonial discourse. Physical
absence of a father, after whom the son has inherited his skin color,
becomes a pretext for creating a series of notions about the parent. They
revolve around cultural associations imposed on the Black people: from
stereotypes derived from the Heart of Darkness (Bagiński directly refers to
them in the video projection) to a model of African-American alive in the
US culture (its symbols include a Michael Jordan action figure, a childhood
keepsake). Suffice it to say, that the performance opens with Jan Dravnel
playing The End by The Doors on a guitar. This way Conrad’s novel is
directly linked to its modern, American version presented by Francis Ford
Coppola in Apocalypse Now. In the abovementioned measures we can find
another reflection of James Baldwin’s words: „American image of a Negro
lives also in his heart and when he surrenders to such image, his life will
not exist in any other reality”. In this context, Bagiński’s performance
attempts to personally diagnose and overcome this tendency, not
dissimilar to a tragic trap.
This performance is not only significand and bold, but also deeply moving.
Inspired by Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, The Heart is yet another
personal, identity statement in Polish theatre in recent time. Director and
co-author of the script (the other author is Martyna Wawrzyniak) Wiktor
Bagiński, a 28-year-old Pole with Nigerian roots, sets out to find his
absent father. However, as often is the case with such journeys, it turns
into a confrontation with his own ideas, stereotypes, fears and a
questions: “What do we owe to our parents and what do we inherit from
them?”. Racial context only raises the bar and temperature of this journey
to the heart of identity. A two-dimensional journey for Bagiński and his
“(…) The Heart – similarly to Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now – is not even a narrative about disintegration but rather a disintegrated, decomposed narrative without a language. An experience of rape is an experience of subjective disintegration. So it’s not a cohesive plot, but rather the disintegration that is the key to this performance.”
director’s assistant: Wojciech Sobolewski
stage manager: Piotr Piotrowicz
production manager: Magda Igielska
production cooperation: Maria Herbich
Inspired by Joseph Conrad’s novella “Heart of Darkness”
About the director
Wiktor Bagiński is a fourth-year drama directing student at the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków. He has also studied philosophy at the University of Warsaw. As an actor he played in a few performances including: Heroes of Future directed by Markus Öhrn (produced by Komuna Warszawa, 2014), Twerk Like a Teen Spirit directed by Marta Ziółek (2015), Footballers directed by Małgorzata Wdowik (produced by TR Warszawa, 2016), or Vernon Subutex directed by Wiktor Rubin (produced by the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre w Kraków, 2018). He assisted Krzysztof Garbaczewski on the production of Cosmos (produced by The Helena Modrzejewska National Stary Theatre, 2016). In 2017 Bagiński directed his own play Negronauts in The Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute. At the 8th Young Directors Forum in Cracow he directed The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. He is the laureate of the 3rd Modelatornia competition (project: Black skin, white masks). In June 2020 Bagiński produced The Screens in The Polish Theatre in Poznań.
New Talents Line / TR Debut
TR Warszawa acts as an incubator for new talents and cutting edge projects. Each year in the programme there are at least two performances or performative readings by creators that make their debut in Warsaw: directors and/or playwrights. We do not build a permanent team of cooperating artist but instead we work towards the growth of the Polish theatre in general, with particular focus on the art of direction. TR Warszawa identifies new talents and fulfills the role of an expert while building the knowledge equity of the new Polish theatre.
The search for new talents takes place through competitions – restricted and open (TR Debut, TR Area, pitchings); internship, assistantship and residency application programs; research conducted at the faculties of directing at drama schools, theatre festivals and partner theatres abroad. The creators are selected by a special team made up of the representatives of TR Warszawa artistic team.
We cooperate with people who can think creatively about the theatre and performative arts, who are open to experimenting with other constituents of art and interested in developing their work with the actor’s team; creators who are engaged in the problems of the modern world, for whom theatre is a space of freedom, place where the state of a human and the world can be explored.
Read more about our programming lines.