It started 25 years ago. Now the only one of its kind Polish Canadian theatre – The Polish Canadian Society of Theatre – stages its in Toronto here but also, for a number of years, its two pillars and creators – a mother-daughter actor duo Maria Nowotarska and Agata Pilitowska, actresses from Poland’s theatre capital city of Krakow – have traveled the world with their shows. I’m talking with Agata Pilitowska who has just returned from yet another theatre trip.
Full interview with Agata Pilitowska:
Established in 1990 by Maria Nowotarska, the The Polish Canadian Society of Theatre presents plays and poetry readings on a range of Polish topics to audiences around the world. The most important part of the theater’s repertoire are plays written by Kazimierz Braun for Maria Nowotarska and Agata Pilitowska and directed by the author: American Dreams, Tamara L., Promieniowanie (Radiation), Opowieści Poli Negri (Tales of Pola Negri), Tajemnice Ordonki (Ordonka’s Secrets). These plays were performed in Toronto and other Canadian and American cities: Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Sarasota, Phoenix, San Francisco as well as in Europe: Warsaw, Cracow, Zurich, Paris, Stockholm, Malmo, Utrecht, Duesseldorf, Vilnius, Lyon, Toulouse, Athens, Braga, Palma de Mallorca, London, Vienna and in Brazil’s Sao Paulo.
Agata Pilitowska graduated from the Cracow University Theatre School in Cracow, Poland and came to Canada in 1986. Agata Pilitowska lives in Toronto. She played many English speaking roles in local theatres. From 1992 she is associated with the Salon of Poetry, Music, and Theatre where she played in more than 100 productions, most notably in the series of dramas, written and directed especially for her and for Maria Nowotarska by Kazimierz Braun. These plays were performed not only in Toronto, but also in many cities throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, as well as in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her evening of poetry, Szymborska Nobel 96, was performed in Polish and English, among other places at the Concordia University in Montreal, Washington University in Washington D.C., and as part of the International Writers’ Festival in Ottawa. Since 1999 she has been a presenter and journalist for OMNI TV, where she hosts a weekly programme Z Ukosa (Sideglance). For OMNI TV she dubbed thirty three hours of TV programme “Canada, the Peoples’ History” and twenty programmes Ecce Homo. She was also narrator and host of Polish language version of the series Science Show. Agata Pilitowska was awarded the title “Distinguished Advocate of Polish Culture” (2004), the medal “Gloria Artis” (2006), and the “Golden Owls” statuette (2011) for her achievements in acting and theatre in Vienna, Austria.
Maria Nowotarska graduated from the Cracow University Theatre School and for thirty three years was a staff actress at the J. Słowacki Theatre in Cracow, Poland. During her career there, she played many significant roles under the direction of several outstanding directors, both in comedy and drama. She played in a number of Polish films: Nad Niemnem (On the River Niemen), Między Ustami a Brzegiem Pucharu (Between lips and the rim of the cup), Kolory Kochania (Colours of love) and in many TV productions. She came to Canada in 1990 and singlehandedly created Polish theatrical life in Toronto. She is the artistic director, stage director, as well as actress of the “Salon of Poetry, Music and Theatre” Polish Theatre. The Salon’s productions included an array of the best Polish poets, from Kochanowski to Szymborska and Twardowski. Ms. Nowotarska created the Actors’ Studio which is associated with the Salon and which introduces young people of Polish origin to work on stage. Ms. Nowotarska’s Salon was honoured with the Medal of Polish Senate, and the “Cracow 2000” medal . She herself was awarded the Prize of The Adam Mickiewicz Foundation in Canada, and from the Turzański Foundation. She was also accorded the title “Woman of the Year” (1995) and received the Golden Medal of the Canadian Polish Congress. She was awarded the “Cross of Merit” by the President of the Polish Republic, the title “Distinguished Advocate of Polish Culture”, and the “Gloria Artis” medal by the Polish Minister of Culture. She was awarded a Gold Medal by the American Polish Institute in Miami, Florida and the “Golden Owls” statuette in Vienna, Austria.
Pola Negri Festival in Lipno, the birthplace of famous Hollywood silent film actress Pola Negri: