15th International storytelling festival “PO / PIŚMIENNI”

November 19, 2020 Thursday,19:00    -    November 22, 2020 Sunday,23:00

Until the very last moment we believed we would meet in spite of all the odds, to immerse ourselves in a river of common experience. To experience the community of telling stories and listening to them directly. Sadly, we must acknowledge that this year it is not possible.

We are moving the festival online, hoping that you will follow us. Does storytelling have a chance to happen online?

According to Jacek Dukaj, the author of the book “Po piśmie” [Post Literate] as a culture, civilization or historical period we are inevitably heading toward post literacy. Instead of telling stories we want to experience things without the intermediary of the written language and symbols. It is the social media with their flood of hashtags and trends which are to provide this experience (and they already are). Instead of l i s t e n i n g we prefer to lo o k, if possible through electronic devices, because it is there that images and sounds are sharper and more primal than the person itself. Technology provides us with direct experiences – why should you go to the forest or to a storytelling performance if you can see it and experience it as if you were really there?

Despite the fact that during the pandemics many storytellers fell into the seductive trap of digital recordings (for eternity!) we missed (how ever old fashioned that may sound) experiencing the trancience, ephemerality and the uniqueness of a live and direct meeting. What about the fact that this will not happen this time? Our longing will survive the pandemics.

Perhaps out of spite to the writer Jacek Dukaj or, on the contrary, in congruence with his metaphor of overlapping of different artistic practices i.e “the cultural Matryoshka”, we have invited storytellers who combine the practice of oral art with writing and research. All the artists, despite the fact that their situation is becoming more and more difficult and that they have to go down to the Internet underground, still want to be with us in any way it is possible. Perhaps the time we are experiencing shall never repeat itself again? Perhaps because it is storytelling that comes to our rescue right now?

After 14 years since the second edition of the festival, we will host (this time also in our homes) Mats Rehnmam, the generous father of storytelling from Sweden who is a writer and illustrator of his own books. Mats is going to tell us stories from his studio in Stockholm and he will be accompanied by Olena Yeremenko from Warsaw. Muriel Bloch will visit us from France with a suitcase full of books and literary contexts. She will be accompanied by the select company of the fools of Chełm who are rooted in the oral tradition but are also submerged in the culture of writing. (Who knows, perhaps the whole world is one big Chełm?) Her Polish echo on stage will be Magdalena Górska who will invite the Noble prize winner- foreigner, seeker of radium or perhaps of the fern flower. Among the Polish writers and improve artists are Grzegorz Uzdański and Witold Vargas.

We will be crossing the fluid intersection of worlds and identities: genres and genders (following the “Metamorphs”), sign language and words (the audible and visible “Snapshots” project), folk history – the illiterate one, nevertheless one which has been written down, from the masculine and feminine point of view (the legendary leader of peasants Jakub Szela has not only captured the imagination of the winner of the major Polish literary prize “Nike” but also of Małgorzata Litwinowicz), India and Great Britain – the two motherlands of Peter Chand who will make us have a good laugh in Punjabi. We will not only tell stories but also talk (on Zoom). So let us meet. We have things to talk about.