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Biennale Teatro 2021

Krzysztof Warlikowski

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Award ceremony

During the 49th International Theatre Festival
2 > 11 July 2021

Krzysztof Warlikowski

La Biennale di Venezia will present the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement to Krzysztof Warlikowski.

“For over twenty years, Krzysztof Warlikowski – as the motivation for the award reads – has been the advocate for a profound renewal of the European language of theatre. Relying on references from cinema and an original use of video, inventing new forms of theatre that aim to re-establish the bond between the play and the audience, Warlkowski encourages the latter to rip away the paper backdrop of their lives and to discover what is really hidden underneath”.

Invited to present his theatre productions at the major festivals around the globe, from Europe to the Americas, and to direct lyric operas in the most important opera houses, from Paris to London and Salzburg, Krzysztof Warlikowski is “a free artist – write ricci/forte – who opens poetic breaches to cast a ray of raw light on the other side of the coin; who breaks through the crust of things to touch consciences; who descends into the viscera of pain and ironically questions the ambiguities of both History with a capital “h” and those of our individual existence, offering us a vision of society threatened by radical change and increasingly under siege by a tentacular ruling class of ravenous predators, highlighting the violence in social and family relations and the urgent need that the emotion of a pure and simple desire to love can give us”.

Biographical notes

Krzysztof Warlikowski (Szczecin - Poland 1962) directed his first plays in 1989, at the age of 27, after completing his studies in philosophy and history in Krakow, and in the French language and Greek theatre at the Sorbonne in Paris. 

He has created a new way of staging Shakespeare. His body of work contains subversive interpretations of Greek tragedies, but he is also well known for his staging of modern authors. His 2002 production of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed at the Festival d’Avignon and the Festival de Théâtre des Amériques in Montreal received wide acclaim. It was a turning point for Warlikowski’s international presence. Since 2008 he has been the Artistic Director of the International Cultural Centre Nowy Teatr in Warsaw, where he has so far directed six shows based on multilayers text adaptation: (A)pollonia (2009), The End (2010), African Tales by Shakespeare (2011), Kabaret warszawski (2013), The French (2015), We Are Leaving (2018). All the performances were coproduced with the most prestigious European theatres, including Théâtre National de Chaillot and Odéon Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris, Festival d’Avignon, Comédie de Cermont-Ferrand, Greek Festival in Athens, Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie de Bruxelles, Théâtre de Liège, Ruhrtriennale. He directed two performances at the Odéon Théâtre de l’Europe in Paris: Streetcar (2011) and Phaedra(s) (2016) with Isabelle Huppert in the leading role. 

Warlikowski’s theatre productions were presented at the most important festivals: Festival d’Avignon, Festival de Otoño in Madrid, Edinburgh International Festival, Wiener Festwochen, Next Wave Festival BAM in New York, Athens Festival, International Theatre Festival Santiago a Mil in Chile, International Theatre Festival PoNTI in Porto, Seoul Performing Arts Festival in South Korea, Tianjin Canyu International Theatre Festival in China, Festival BITEF in Belgrade.

A separate field of Krzysztof Warlikowski’s work involves opera. Warlikowski is directing in the greatest European opera houses, including La Monnaie in Brussels, the Paris National Opera, Teatro Real in Madrid, Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Royal Opera House in London, Festival d’Aix en Provence, Rurhtriennale and Salzburg Festival. In his attempt at the “retheatricalisation” of opera, he is perceived as one of the revolutionary opera directors. He has staged among others: Iphigenia in Tauris, The Makropulos Affair, Parsifal, The Woman without a Shadow, Medea, Lulu, Don Giovanni, Bluebeard’s Castle/La voix humaine, The Triumph of Time and Truth and recently The Stigmatized, From the House of the Dead, The Bassarids, Lady Macbeth de Mstensk, Salomé, Contes d’Hoffmann, Electra.

Krzysztof Warlikowski is a winner of numerous awards, including the Award of the French Theatre Critics’ Union in 2003 for the production of Sarah Kane’s Cleansed, judged to be the best foreign language production to be presented in France. In 2008 French critics also awarded Angels in America. In 2006 he received the prestigious Meyerhold Award in Moscow, and in April 2008, the X Europe Prize in Thessaloniki, Greece. In May 2008 New York’s Village Voice gave Krzysztof Warlikowski its Obie Award for the direction of Krum by Hanoch Levin, presented at BAM’s 25th Next Wave Festival. He was awarded the “Golden Mask” prize for the best foreign performance shown in Russia in 2011 for (A)pollonia.

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