Holidays in the archive – a visit from Poland

A VISIT IN THE CENTRE @ Agata DrwiegaSometimes people do things, which seem completely incomprehensible for others. Collecting spiders, taking ice baths or passing the entire days in front of the computer’s screen playing video games are included. I am particularly absorbed by theatre for children and young audiences, which is not a popular and seriously taken interest in Poland where I come from.

Poland has been a member of ASSITEJ for decades and we have a great tradition of puppet theatre, which due to historical purposes (over 40 years of communism and socialist realism) is equating with YTA (nowadays this situation is slowly changing). In our history have appeared many outstanding theatre artists like Krystyna Miłobędzka and Leokadia Serafinowicz (from Teatr Marcinek in Poznań); Jan Dorman (who set up his theatre in Będzin); Halina and Zbigniew Machulski (Teatr Ochoty in Warsaw) whose work was dedicated to children and young people.Thanks to an outsized work of Children’s Art Centre in Poznań plenty of new plays for young audiences have already been written and theatre for babies and the youngest children is well known here. Despite the fact that this list is not complete, TYA’s position is not as high as it is in Germany. Neither there is a comprehensive bibliography dedicated to this topic, nor is TYA an area of interests for universities.
Last winter for the first time in my life I had heard about Natalie’s Saz work and I realized how limited my knowledge in the area of TYA’s history was. Then I decided to learn something more and I was told the Central Archive of ASSITEJ in KJTZ is the best place for the prospecting. Well… it really is!
However I had had an inkling of what ASSITEJ was, just after I read the history of this association (which is a great work of Nat Eek) and I looked through the “Théâtre enfance et jeunesse” magazine I understood the magnificence of the association. In the international library I found the great historical books written by Manon von de Water and interesting International Guide to Children’s Theatre and Educational Theatre edited by Lowell Swortzell. The Central Archive is a perfect place for both research about contemporary and historical YTA in Germany, Europe and the worldwide. Especially the collection of the German one is impressive. Hundreds of thousands of books, scripts, magazines, theatre programs, audio and video recordings, pictures and posters – they are put in order in a few rooms at three levels and dr. Jürgen Kirschner who is responsible for the collection seems to know everything about every little piece of paper which can be found here.
Frankfurt am Main is charming modern city where grey herons, egiptian geese and rabbits live in the parks, and where I spent 10 days of my holidays reading and discussing books and documents of YTA, surrounded by inspiring people from KJTZ who do a great work for spreading magnificent ideas. Thank you!

Agata Drwięga
Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań
Faculty of Polish and Classical Philology
Department of Drama, Theatre and Performance

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