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The presented exhibit comes from the Qui non ci torno più [I Shall Never Return] performance at the Cricot 2 Theatre created in Kraków and Milan in the years 1987–1988. The performance had its premiere on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan.
Nigdy tu już nie powrócę (I Shall Never Return) is a summary of Tadeusz Kantor’s previous theatrical works.

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The presented exhibit comes from the Qui non ci torno più [I Shall Never Return] performance at the Cricot 2 Theatre created in Kraków and Milan in the years 1987–1988. The performance had its premiere on 23 June 1988 at the Piccolo Teatro Studio in Milan.
Nigdy tu już nie powrócę  [I Shall Never Return] is a summary of Tadeusz Kantor’s previous theatrical works. His synthesis covers figures, objects, costumes, mannequins, as well as motifs and whole scenes from previous performances, starting from Powrót Odysa [Return of Odysseus] produced in 1944 at the Clandestine Independent Theatre through the selected production of plays by Witkacy. (See: Children in a rubbish cartWardrobe – Interior of ImaginationKurka wodna [The Water-Hen] (1967) and Nadobnisie i koczkodany [Lovelies and Dowdies] [1973], and Theatre of Death performances such as Umarła klasa [The Dead Class] from 1975 [see: Children at their desk], Wielopole, Wielopole [1980] [see: Camera/Mr Daguerre’s invention) or the last performance, Niech sczezną artyści [Let the Artists Die] [1985]; see exhibits: DoorRat trapPillories of characters).
Every figure appearing on stage retained its costume and attributes assigned to them by Kantor for the purposes of individual productions. However, their manner of being on stage has no relation to their original part. They seem to function here in their own way related neither to the script of their original performances nor to the intention the artist had for them then. In the Guide to the performance Tadeusz Kantor clarifies his own, as well as their role, in the performance: “I am about to enter/ a shabby and suspicious/ joint. / I walked here long. / Whole nights. / Sleepless. / I walked to a meeting, / I don’t know with whom: phantoms or people? / To say that I have created them for/ many, many years/ would be too much. / I gave them life, and they gave me their own. / They were not easy or obedient. / They travelled with me long/ and gradually stopped at various roads and stops. / Now we are to meet. / Maybe for the last time. / Like on Polish All Souls’ Day. / I will see them once again. / After so many years”.[1]
The actors appear as the protagonists from Kantor's previous performances. But the artist assigned them a very specific function: they are degraded here to the level of ghosts, “dismal figures from the past” that appear as images of the dead. “They will come to this joint/ like for/ the LAST JUDGEMENT/ to give testimony/ to our fate”.[2]
Their role and assignation is determined by Kantor in the Boat of Charon scene. It takes place in the epilogue of the play. It is a summary of the sequence of scenes referring directly to Powrót Odysa (Return of Odysseus). The artist on the stage reads out fragments from his director’s notebook paraphrasing Stanisław Wyspiański’s drama: “[...] No one enters the land of the youth for a second time alive. I had my homeland in my heart, and today I have it as my desire. Today I only miss it.” In the background the boat of Charon appears, which goes around the stage and drags the actors who hold on to the boat and, in a slow somnambular procession, disappear behind the door going to “the other side”.
The water-hen bathtub from Kurka wodna [The Water-Hen] (1967) represents the boat of Charon, which was steered in Nigdy tu już nie powrócę [I Shall Never Return] by the same actress who played the „Water-Hen" from Witkacy's play, Mira Rychlicka. When describing the protagonists of Nigdy tu już nie powrócę [I Shall Never Return], Kantor characterised this figure in the following way: „Here is: / Water-Hen/ with her/ bathtub/ where she pitilessly/ drowned in 1967”.[3]
It is symptomatic that in this performance Kantor restored the objects from his previous performances, but in a new version mostly built from a galvanised metal sheet, just like in this case. In Kurka wodna [The Water-Hen], it was an enamelled bathtub, the so-called ready object.” Kantor wrote about it: an old bathtub found in the attic.” Its reconstruction was assembled from five pieces of soldered metal sheets (bottom, sides, front and back); the bathtub edges were turned up to the outside and covered with silver insulating tape. The metal wheels used here were much larger than the ones used in the original to emphasise the mobility of this object. The paddle is also made from a galvanised metal sheet.

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


[1] T. Kantor, Nigdy tu już nie powrócę Przewodnik, [in:] T. Kantor, Pisma, Vol. III: Dalej już nic... Teksty z lat 1985–1990, elab. K. Pleśniarowicz, Wrocław–Kraków 2004–2005, p. 109;
[2] There, p. 109—110;
[3] There, p. 114.

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Porządkowanie, autopodsumowanie

Ostatni okres twórczości Tadeusza Kantora — po roku 1986 — jest autopodsumowaniem, które dzieje się na teatralnej scenie, w obrazach i rysunkach, pismach teoretycznych artysty, a także w jego działalności związanej z Cricoteką (potrzeba dokumentowania i zabezpieczania zbiorów). Motyw ten jest...

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Ostatni okres twórczości Tadeusza Kantora − po roku 1986 − jest autopodsumowaniem, które dzieje się na teatralnej scenie, w obrazach i rysunkach, pismach teoretycznych artysty, a także w jego działalności związanej z Cricoteką (potrzeba dokumentowania i zabezpieczania zbiorów).
Motyw ten jest szczególnie widoczny w Łódzi Charona Tadeusza Kantora ze spektaklu Nigdy tu już nie powrócę z 1988 roku i ostatnim spektaklu Kantora Dziś są moje urodzinyktórego premiera odbyła się już po śmierci artysty (zobacz Stolik Artysty).

Opracowanie: Małgorzata Paluch-Cybulska (Ośrodek Dokumentacji Sztuki Tadeusza Kantora Cricoteka), © wszystkie prawa zastrzeżone

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“Boat of Charon” (“I Shall Never Return”, 1988)

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