Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No Boundaries Returns to Yale Rep with The Files

The seventh season of NO BOUNDARIES: A SERIES OF GLOBAL PERFORMANCES, presented by Yale Repertory Theatre will feature THE FILES by Theatre of the Eighth Day (Teatr Ósmego Dnia) for three performances only, Feb. 20–22 at 8 pm at the Iseman Theater, 1156 Chapel St., New Haven.

NO BOUNDARIES celebrates the diversity of voices and experiences in today’s world. NO BOUNDARIES explores—and explodes—the frontiers of theatrical invention through cutting-edge, thought-provoking performance. Right here in New Haven, right here at Yale.


Legendary Polish theatre company Theatre of the Eighth Day (Wormwood, 2009) returns with The Files, a riveting docudrama created from actual surveillance records the secret police kept on the group between 1975 and 1983. Through these files, a remarkable human drama unfolds—not just of life under a communist regime but of the courageous artistry that thrived in spite of that oppression.

Running time: approximately 80 minutes. The Files is performed in English. Talk Back Q&A session with members of the company will follow each performance.

The Files is part of the Poland-U.S. Campus Arts Project, a program organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, Poland. This presentation is also generously supported by The Root Boy Slim Fund and Connecticut Humanities.


Founded in 1964, Theatre of the Eighth Day quickly became the most famous and internationally recognized Polish underground theatre. Inspired and influenced by the work of revolutionary theater artist Jerzy Grotowski, the company developed its own acting method, creating performances through improvisation. For the first twenty-five years of its existence, and despite constant police surveillance and government censorship, Theatre of the Eighth Day managed to create some of the most important works for the Polish stage: In One Breath (1971); Discounts for All (1977); Oh, How Nobly We Lived (1979); Auto Da Fe (1985), and Wormwood (1985; presented at Yale Rep, 2009). Since the collapse of the Communist regime in Poland, the company, currently based in Poznań, continues to be recognized as a leader among Polish alternative theatres.

Taking its name from a line by Polish poet Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, “On the seventh day, the Lord God rested, and on the eighth, He created theatre,” Theatre of the Eighth Day was originally founded as a student group that performed poetry and drama. After studying Grotowski’s techniques and witnessing the civil unrest and student protests of 1968, their performance style became more physical and less verbal, and the company resolved to remain in dialogue with both the artistic and political movements in society. However, they always rejected the label “political theatre.” Former artistic director Lech Raczak said, “In a monopolized system such as Poland everything becomes political.  If you make any gesture different from what the authorities want, that gesture immediately carries political weight. So the term 'political' results from the distortion and unnaturalness of social life here.”

Theatre of the Eighth Day was subjected to years of censorship and government oppression as it continued to produce theatre behind the Iron Curtain. The Polish government eventually withdrew all subsidies and issued an official announcement that the group had disbanded. However, Theatre of the Eighth Day continued to produce work underground and was invited to the Edinburgh Festival to perform their piece Wormwood in 1985. Only half of the company was granted visas by Polish authorities, and a new piece, Auto Da Fe, was devised and performed in its place. Auto Da Fe won the “Fringe First” prize, an achievement denounced by the Polish government because, according to them, the group “did not exist.”


Tickets for THE FILES are $30 ($10 for students and $25 for Yale Faculty and Staff) and can be purchased online at www.yalerep.org/noboundaries, by phone (203) 432-1234, and in person at the Yale Rep Box Office (1120 Chapel Street).

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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