Four Dreams of Holderlin
Teatr Cogitatur

Best of 2004 Theater - Chicago Tribune
Highly recommended - Chicago Reader

“ Prime imagistic theater comes in many languages. This Polish troupe performed "Four Dreams" in English, and for an hour the audience found itself inside a dream” - The Year’s Best Theater, Chicago Tribune 12/19/04
Highly Recommended - Chicago Reader 11/11/04

10/30/04 - 11/7/04

Fri-Sat 8p; Sun 4p

“ Prime imagistic theater comes in many languages. This Polish troupe performed "Four Dreams" in English, and for an hour the audience found itself inside a dream” - The Year’s Best Theater, Chicago Tribune 12/19/04

Teatr Cogitatur’s ‘Four Dreams’ is a brilliant reality - “A year ago, Wicker Park's Chopin Theatre hosted the American debut of a dazzlingly good Polish company, Teatr Cogitatur. The troupe presented "Aztec Hotel," in which angels and humans intermingled in a dreamscape of arresting visual delights. This was work as strong, or stronger, than most other international companies coming through North America, on much bigger budgets, at much better-funded operations.

Over the weekend, the company returned to the Chopin with a more daunting 1997 piece, "Four Dreams of Hoelderlin," inspired by the life, desperate love and madness of the German poet Johann Christian Friedrich Holderlin (1770-1843). It was tougher, more allusive, than "Aztec Hotel." But it was no less exquisitely rendered. Chicago may be in the thick of a French theater festival. "Four Dreams," however, constituted a one-production Polish theater festival nicely counterweighing all the French business.

"Four Dreams" worked with no straight narrative and assumed a certain degree of Holderlin familiarity I, for one, did not possess. It didn't matter. The production, under an hour in length, began with the auditorium in near-blackness. The light then revealed a bearded, glassy-eyed poet (Marek Radwan), talking about characters and creatures he imagines. His "dream book" appeared in a milky pool of light upstage, the pages of which magically turned under their own power. Right there you thought: I am in the hands of first-rate artists.

New actors emerged from the void. A man climbed a rope ladder to the heavens. A woman on the other side of the stage ascended a ramp, at a glacial but mesmerizing pace. Each new image shimmered. Then: cries of "Revolution!" Like so many other revolutions, this one led to the taste of ashes in the mouth. Holderlin experienced the French Revolution first-hand as a crushing violation of principles. One line expressed the whole of humankind's need for revolutions in the first place: "I have my dignity, but my stomach is empty."

"Four Dreams" was worth seeing if only for its final, grim burial of the revolution, and more literally, of Holderlin. As Radwan lay on the stage floor, just inches from the front row, two separate piles of dirt showered him, from an unseen container. I don't know if I've ever seen a theater company use darkness more imaginatively.

The company this visit consisted of Radwan, Marta Kadlub, Magda Fasinska-Malik and Maciej Dziaczko. Director Witold Izdebski's wife, Katarzyna Izdebska, appeared last year in "Aztec Hotel" but more recently suffered a serious accident in Poland. Here's wishing the company a return visit soon” - Michael Philips, Chicago Tribune 11/3/04

Highly Recommended - “Acclaimed Polish troupe Teatr Cogitatur pulls off a tour de force of chiaroscuro lighting, physical performance, and arresting image in this haunting tribute to a tragic artist and his breathtaking, terrifying visions. Romantic poet Friedrich Holderlin, a contemporary of Schiller and Hegel, died addled and obscure in 1843 but has since been recognized as a talent in the neighborhood of Goethe or Rilke, an ecstatic classicist also significant to avant-garde critical theory.

You can number Nietzsche and Heidegger among his no-surprise-there champions, and credit Holderlin as among the first to seize upon the spooky Greco-Teutonic mythological fusion. Ol' black magic aside, Holderlin was a disillusioned child of the Enlightenment, broken by failed love and firsthand witness of his ideals in action in Revolutionary France; this expressionist collage, part biography and part performance study, touches on both in the course of a thoroughly riveting hour” - Brian Nemtusak, Chicago Reader 11/11/04

Witold Izdebski

Witold Izdebski

Marek Radwan, Marta Kadlub, Magda Fasinska-Malik, Maciej Dziaczko

Tags: Polish, Theater, , 2004