Zofia Smolarska

The Gift of Nothingness. Reflections on Theatre Ecology

The main aim of the paper is to present the results of a Polish-Icelandic theatre project and to describe the production process of the performance by applying the idea of theatre ecology in the performance’s analysis.

A Polish-Icelandic project ‘Blue Planet’ – partly financed from EEA funds – was held by the Miniatura City Theatre in Gdańsk, Poland in cooperation with the Association of Independent Theatres in Iceland. During the project Polish actors and a stage designer worked with Icelandic director and actor Erling Jóhannesson and with the musicians from the well-known Icelandic band, múm, to stage children’s play The Story of the Blue Planet by Andri Snær Magnason. The Polish premiere of the performance took place on 17th of May 2014. In September 2014 the performance will be shown in Reykjavík and Akureyri.

The play by Andri Snaer Magnason tackles the issue of environmental responsibility. It also raises the question of global inequalities and the very problematic role of the democracy in dealing with this inequality. In my paper I am going to analyze the production process of the performance ‘Blue Planet’ from an ecological point of view by translating environmental values, strategies and terms such as sustainability, recycling, balance, diversity, ecosystem to the field of the performance. I am going to look closely at a recycling process of ideas that occurred during the rehearsals. Secondly, I will examine the sustainability of energy of the actors. Thirdly, I will present the theatre institution in which we were working and its organizational culture as an unbalanced ecosystem. The director’s attempt to translate the story from the Icelandic context to the Polish one (with respect to the environmental, political and historical differences between the two countries) will appear in the presentation as a background to all the above mentioned issues. While describing the transition between rehearsal and execution, I will try to find answers to the following questions: What does an ‘ecologically aware theatre’ mean? How can a theatre production be ecologically friendly? And what are the artistic implications and risks of ecological thinking?