Melpomene from small flat

Emilian Kamiński during the opening of the Kamienica Theatre. Warsaw, 26 March 2009. Photo: Marcin Dlawichowski / Forum

I will try to bring the atmosphere of home theatre to the Kamienica Theatre. I will treat each spectator individually, as if they were my personal guest," declared Emilian Kaminski, an outstanding actor and director. He died on 26 December at the age of 70.

And indeed, it was not uncommon for him to personally welcome visitors to performances staged within the centuries-old walls of a building with a dark past (during World War II, it housed the Office for Combating Usury and Speculation in the Jewish Quarter, commonly known as the "Thirteen" - from the then address of 13 Leszno Street). Certainly, however, most of the regulars at the Kamienica Theatre, which during its 13 years of activity gained a reputation as an important place on the theatrical map of Poland, did not know the conspiratorial past of its originator and director.

Contestant of the communist regime

Kamiński gained experience as an actor at the Theatre in Wola under Tadeusz Łomnicki, then at the National Theatre under Adam Hanuszkiewicz, and the Ateneum under Janusz Warmiński. Who knows, however, whether his relationship with Melpomene was not determined precisely by the Home Theatre, which continued the tradition of meetings with the muse of tragedy and singing in flats.

It was inaugurated in 1955 by the experimental and avant-garde Theatre on Tarczynska Street, an initiative of the poetic trio: Miron Białoszewski, Bogusław Choiński and Lech Emfase Stefański - the owner of premises in a building at 11 Tarczynska Street. Three years later, Białoszewski, in his flat located in a block of flats on Dąbrowskiego Square, founded the Teatr Osobny, run jointly with the poet Ludwik Hering and the visual artist Ludmila Murawska. Both establishments avoided politics, which did not prevent them from being infiltrated by the Security Service, especially its collaborators.

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–Tomasz Zbigniew Zapert –Translated by Tomasz Krzyżanowski