THE CARD INDEX TODAY
Tadeusz Różewicz wrote “The Card Index” in 1960, just seven years after the death of dictator Josef Stalin and 15 years after the end of the Second World War. When reading the play, it is important to consider the time and society in which Różewicz lived. He was communicating with an audience in socialist Poland during the 1960s, a society with draconic censorship, still traumatized by war and Stalinism, within a country tightly positioned within the Soviet block of influence. Many references in the play that were significant and politically daring for the audience at the time may not be understood or hold the same relevance for a contemporary Polish audience.
The dreamlike absurd text of the play largely comments on a generation that experienced the Second World War. Today, we are two generations removed from that war, and other problems, and other wars and challenges should hold greater importance for us. Young Polish people are not victims of a war that ended almost 80 years ago. They are not victims. They are the fortunate inhabitants of a free, prosperous, and liberal European Union.
As it is not allowed to change Różewicz’ text (to make it more relevant to a contemporary audience) I decided to adapt it for 5 young actors (from the original 14 characters) and use all his stage directions. In that way we create an ironic distance to the text and its form as we perform in an empty space without his defined realistic stage design, and we do not present the characters as he defined them. But the actors tell us how the fictional space looks like and that a young man in a black suit is a fat woman etc.
We created on stage a youthful, joyful, playful, and energic universe that contradicted the gloomy images of the text. The actors “play with the play”. They establish an ironic universe inspired by animation films and funny memes on Tic Toc. Partly they present the characters as cats or dogs, as flies, trolls or marionet dolls, and they do not relate to gender. Between each scene the actors dance accompanied by rock and roll music from the time of Różewicz’ youth to inject even more energy into the performance.
The experiment we did was to try to communicate beyond the text. We aimed to portray young Polish men and women who were born and raised in a free and European Poland. These young people should not be not traumatized by history, they should live in and relate to the present.