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Lebus Theatre (LT) History

At the beginning there was a building. The famous Berlin architect Oskar Kaufmann was an author of the Project. A representative edifice dating back to 1931 had fully equipped audience hall and appropriate stage support area. The theatre hall was supervised by caretaker from Municipal Office, it was let for mass meetings and special occasion celebrations. Later on, competing with each other amateur groups of railwaymen and textile workers started performing in it in turns.

On the 5th of November 1945 government proxy for Zielona Góra area appointed Cezary Julski for the post of a manager of Municipal Theatre. However, a few months later he was moved ex officio to Poznań and the theatre was closed, but not for long. Ambitions were woken up. In Wrocław “Słowo Polskie” (?The Polish Word?) the article with a significant title “Zielona Góra Wants to Have a Theatre” appeared. Theatre groups came into existence and crashed. The two teams stood out: “Teatr Kolejarza” (“Railwayman?s Theatre”) established by Andrzej Romańczak and operating in years 1946 – 1949 and “Nowa Reduta” (?New Redoubt?), earlier ?Teatr Włókniarzy? (?Textile Workers? Theatre) operating at “Polska Wełna” (Polish Wool), established by Józef Żmuda and Stanisław Cynarski ? later on an actor for many years in Zielona Góra theatre. Miejski Teatr Zielonogórski (Municipal Zielona Góra Theatre) was established from these two teams in October 1951 and Róża Gella-Czerska, pre-war actress, became the first head and an artistic manager of this already professional theatre.

On the 24th of November of that year in the hall of Municipal Theatre in Zielona Góra the first solemn premiere of ?Zemsta? (Revenge) by Aleksander Fredro directed by Róża Gella-Czerska and with scenography of Antoni Marra took place.

Starting with March of the next year head office and artistic managerial personnel was taken over by the scenographer and director Stanisław Cegielski. The audience watched ?Powrót posła? (?The Return of the Deputy?), ?Śluby panieńskie? (?Maiden Vows?) and ?Wesele Figara? (?The Marriage of Figaro?) to name just a few.

Starting with the 1st of January 1954 Zbigniew Koczanowicz took up a post of a head and he invited Stanisław Hebanowski (it was the first Hebanowski?s one-year stay in Zielona Góra) to literary cooperation. He engaged a permanent literary manager and permanent stage designer and he also brought graduates of Liceum Techniki Teatralnej (High School of Drama Techniques) from Warsaw. Contacts with the audience were commenced. Performance leaflets started to be printed. The head Koczanowicz ?was learning abc of the art of drama patiently, slowly instructing so that the people became professionals, he was popularising theatre in a stubborn way? ? Andrzej Wróblewski wrote 20 years later in the jubilee album.

The first jubilee in Zielona Góra theatre history to be celebrated was the 50th-year anniversary of acting work of Bronisław Gałecki. ?The Sailor? by Szaniawski directed by Z. Koczanowicz was staged then and Jerzy Szaniawski himself sent best regards to Lebus team and Zielona Góra viewers. It was in June 1955.

Season 1956/57 started with the celebration of the 5th-year anniversary of the theatre to which representatives of Ministry and Managing Board of SPATiF came. Numerous critics and publicists, a delegation from Germany were present and honorary mentions were distributed. A team tried their strengths in great world?s repertoires staging ?Intrigue and Love? by Friedrich von Schiller.

Zbigniew Przeradzki took over management in the season 1957/58. Performance leaflets that were edited by Zdzisław Giżejewski received new, uniform graphic outline and appendix – ?Biuletyn PTZL? (Bulletin of State Theatre of Lebus Area) ? containing addressed to audience survey, whose aim was to find out about opinions and expectations. In the season 1958/59 ?Zeszyty Teatralne? (Theatre Copy Books) started to be issued, in which works of both local as well as invited for cooperation writers have been published. 255 issues in total have been released so far.

On the 6th of December 1959 ?Awantura w Pacynkowie? (?A Row in Glove Puppet Place?) gave beginning to presence of performances for children in the LT repertoire. And since the beginning of 1964 Puppet Theatre have been in operation in a formal way, called on pursuant to the initiative of tireless and unforgettable Halina Lubicz (one of the stages of our Theatre bears her name today). The 35th-year anniversary of Puppets? Theatre was celebrated in 1999. The first solemn accent was a premiere of ?Tygrysek Pietrek? (?Pete?s the Little Tiger?) by Hanna Januszewska which took place on the 27th of September 1998. At the beginning Puppet Theatre broke away from drama theatre, by creating a separate team trying to exist almost independently, under a different roof. Later there was one group. It is like this nowadays ? we are having one team serving two functions. The same actors are performing for adult and very young viewers.

These were the beginnings. And then?… ?then we had unquestionable authors of success: Jerzy Zegalski and Marek Okopiński, as they are defined by Jan Paweł Gawlik. After them, successors of this success and at times there were people who wasted the success…? I am quoting Marek Chełminiak, the author of a note placed in the leaflet to Antigone? by Sophocles, staged for the 35th-year anniversary of the Theatre.

On the 18th of December 1964, during the premiere of a play by Leon Kruczkowski ?The First Day of Freedom?, directed by Krystyna Meissner (nobody had anticipated then that several years later Krystyna Meissner would become a head of this theatre!). State Theatre of Lebus Area received a new name: since then it has been Leon Kruczkowski Lebus Theatre.

In history of Lebus Theatre we have significant names of literary managers such as: Stanisław Hebanowski, Stanisław Grochowiak, Marta Fik, Jerzy Ziomek. The sixties were full of awards and honours when awards from Kalisz and Wrocław festivals were brought by Okopiński?s actors: Halina Winiarska and Józef Fryźlewicz, Zdzisław Wardejn, Jerzy Hoffmann, Henryk Machalica.

In 1972 Jerzy Hoffmann finished his 5-year term in office as a head of Lebus Theatre. The epoch of short, usually 2-season terms of heads followed in the seventies and the eighties. Awards were won rarely, number of the acting team decreased. However, there were many interesting performances, compelling repertoire points and popularising work done in an interesting way. The period of Ryszard Żuromski?s term stood out. As in 1974 the 4-year-long renovation of the Big Stage started, the theatre was moved to stage premieres in students? dormitories, various clubs and even factory grounds. Tight cooperation was also commenced with the Chair of Polish Literature in Wyższa Szkoła Pedagogiczna (Higher School of Pedagogy) in Zielona Góra. Night premiere shows for students with following them hours long discussions entered the tradition.

In autumn 1974 scientific session on a national scale took place in the theatre led by the professor Kazimierz Wyka. The subject was meetings of literary science with new searches in theatre. The participants of the sessions saw then three executed by Zielona Góra theatre premieres: ?Kosmogonia? by Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz, ?Donosy rzeczywistości? Miron Białoszewski and Janusz Krasiński ?Czapa, czyli śmierć na raty? (?Beheading – Death in Stages?).

In January 1976 also in the theatre building scientific symposium entitled ?Theatre ? Towards Effectiveness? took place with the participation of Łódź ?Theatre 77?.

After terms of office of Tadeusz Pliszkiewicz and Mirosław Wawrzyniak, at the beginning of season 1980/1981 Lebus Theatre was taken over by the head Krystyna Meissner. Very young actors, very involved, who had just graduated from PWST (State Higher Theatre School) in Warsaw, appeared, in Zielona Góra theatre with strong classic repertoire. The audience and critics again became interested in the theatre and in what was happening there. The monodrama entitled ?On Long Waiting? based on ?Joseph and his brothers? by T. Mann performed by Halina Mikołajska was received with enthusiasm as well as this outstanding actress?s participation in performance entitled: ?Czesław Miłosz – Meeting? prepared by Kazimierz Skorupski, with which the team travelled also to agricultural workers who were on strike. ?Crimson Island? by M. Bulgakov was a sensation, staged during marital law in force, full of vivid political hints. Three dress rehearsals of the performance ?Why??, being the adaptation of a forbidden book of Venedikt Yerofeyev called Moscow-Petushki open to the audience, made even a bigger impression. Censorship did not allow premiere.

Then Hilary Kurpanik became the dead and afterwards Marek Górski and Krzysztof Rotnicki, and finally – Janusz Kozłowski. Waldemar Matuszewski became a managing and artistic director of LT on the 1st of April 1991.

The 5-year anniversary of Lebus Theatre during the term of Matuszewskiego brought about the subsequent considerable revival of theatre circles of Zielona Góra and the neighbourhood. More than 2.000 performances and almost 50 premieres were staged by the theatre group.

Each year during Days of Zielona Góra Grape Harvest Theatre Meetings (later during Andrzej Bucek? s term as a head as ?Post Grape Harvest Theatre Meetings?) were taking place. Lebus Theatre hosted then troupes from all over Poland performing on LT stages and in various points of the town. Starting with 1995 an informal exchange of performances initiative of theatres of Zielona Góra, Legnica, Jelenia Góra, Gorzów, Olsztyn, Wałbrzych, called the Union of Theatres of Western Poland has been successfully developing. The LT troupe and the performances such as: ?Wedding?, ?Pan Tadeusz? (?Sir Thaddeus?), ?Modrzejewska? appeared on stages in Cracow, Warsaw and other cities in Poland. Performances by this group abroad need to be mentioned: in Lithuania (?Pan Tadeusz?) and in France and Germany (twice).

In 1996 we celebrated the 45th-year anniversary of Zielona Góra theatre. Celebrations were inaugurated by a successful premiere of ?Hamlet? by Shakespeare, translated by Stanisław Barańczak and directed by Matuszewski, with music of Z. Konieczny.

Throughout its history the Theatre has been running its tour activity covering the area of 6 voivodeships and approximately 150 places. The theatre decided to maintain this model of operation in the artistic season of 1998/1999 during the term of Andrzej Bucek continuing creating such a form of Lebus Theatre that was started by Marek Okopiński when he was a head and lately it was realized by Waldemar Matuszewski. The theatre has classic theatre works in the repertoire such as Mickiewicz?s “Dziady” (?Forefathers’ Eve?) and ?Uncle Vanya” by Chekhov and also Agnieszka Osiecka?s ?Appetite for Cherries? ? warmly welcomed with lots of singing, ?Cats? ? a musical for children by Waldemar Wolański and full of songs and dance ?Travels of Matołek the Billy-Goat? by Kamil Makuszyński.

Lebus Theatre wanted to be friendly to viewers and meet their needs, wanted to be an open and frequently visited place. That is why, a performance based on Krzysztof Rościszewski?s script and directed by Krzysztof Rościszewski appeared. It was entitled ?Drug Addicts? and was based on authentic anonymous relations of addicted people and on ?A Diary of a Drug Addict? of Barbara Rosiek. But he also remembered about the demand for entertainment. A farce of Ray Cooney’s “All in family” directed by Wojciech Pokora had its first night on the 11th of October 1998 and was on for long.

In May concert of Leszek Długosz inaugurated activity of Scena Piosenki Literackiej (Literary Song Theatre) and in cooperation with Musical Theatre in Poznań, Scena Muzyczna (Musical Theatre) was organized in which you can see ?Hits of Vienna Music and “Lovers of Paris” ? a variety show of French songs prepared by Joanna Rawik and other. Scena Inicjatyw Aktorskich (Theatre of Acting Initiatives) was also operating as well as Scena Impresaryjna (Impresario Theatre).

Andrzej Buck managed LT till October 2007. Nine years of his leadership awaits and deserves cool and based on facts assessment. One thing is certain: it was the longest in history of LT period under the hand of one person.

In October 2007 Robert Czechowski became a head of Zielona Góra theatre.

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