The symbolism of the door in theatrical performances by Kantor

The symbolism of a door is to some extent universal — common to different cultures and religions. Because a door is always on the border, its significance, first of all, is revealed at the moment of crossing a threshold. It illustrates the existence of opposition and the transition from one state to another. In the performance, Let the artists die, it is the state between life and death, the beginning (the memory of childhood) and the end (the vision of one’s dying). The doors were movable, moving in one of the scenes with the character; being at one of the sides spun out the definition.
The motif is related to the series of Kantor’s drawings, created in the 1970s and 1980s, entitled, Lattesa molto importante [Very important expectation]. They represent the figure of a man waiting at the door. The artist explained one such work in 1986 , created for the poster of the Cricot 2 Theater in Bari, under the same title: “Probably waiting for death”. Therefore, it is about “THE PREMONITION OF THE DIFFERENT WORLD, / THE CONCEPT OF DEATH, / IMPATIENT EXPECTATION AT THE DOOR, / OUTSIDE WHICH / THE AREAS INACCESSIBLE TO OUR SENSES/AND CONCEPTS EXTEND...”
The door was a very important object in almost all performances of the Cricot 2 Theater, beginning from Nadobnisie i koczkodany [Dainty shapes and hairy apes] (1973). In every performance, they were the place of transition between life and death, the moment of brushing against finality. In cricotage, Maszyna miłości i śmierci [Machine of love and death], in the first part of the performance, the “sign of emergency and danger”, which appears twice, is connected to the opening of the iron door. In their last play, the characters recalled by Kantor in his own memories and remembrances pass through “THE DOOR OF DEATH”.

Elaborated by Małgorzata Paluch-Cybulska (The Cricoteka Centre for the Documentation of the Art of Tadeusz Kantor), © all rights reserved

See “Door” (“Let the Artists Die”, 1985).