Sławomir Mrožek (1930–2013), a Polish dramatist, writer, cartoonist and satirist is known above all for his subtle parody and stylised language. In his writings he explored alienation, abuse of power, subordination and restriction of human freedom in a totalitarian system. Frequently, he used surrealist humour and grotesque situations to expose wrongful convictions and mind-sets of his characters. Texts for the stage, predominantly one-act plays, and short stories written during the years 1958 and 1963, before he emigrated from Poland, brought him world fame. He addressed such a wide audience that people coined phrases such as straight out of Mrožek, Mrožek himself could not have come up with this, in order to describe situations from real life. Mrožek's representation of the world became a synonym for absurd everyday situations which used to be part of everyday life in Poland.
The play The Police (Policjanci, 1958) is written in the style of the Theatre of the Absurd and evokes a remarkable efficiency of the police who manages to supress any form of disagreement with the authority which result in the state bereft of any prisoners or rebels whatsoever. Due to this fact, the function and consequently the existence of the policemen are endangered. Therefore, the police is forced to create its own adversaries to the authority, because it cannot exist without them. The situation turns totally absurd when one of the police officers is given the order to pose as a provocateur and adversary to the authority, while the last prisoner who has suffered police torture and interrogation for long as ten years changes his convictions completely and becomes general's aide-de-camp.
The play ridicules the power of institutions and the glorification of the state based on the people's willingness to assume the socially attributed roles without second thought and critical distance. It exposes political opportunism that promotes the existence of the governing system and the aspiration to gain comfort which dominates over the aspiration to fulfil and realise one's own personality. The play may be seen as a depiction of intellectually manipulated reality where the weaker are sacrificed for the benefit of those who are aware of the means of gaining profit out of a given situation. The Police may be understood as the metaphor of a totalitarian regime, but Mrožek warns against the fact that an individual is not merely the victim of the cultural tradition which defines him to virtually accept the utopian slogans, but in fact does so of his own will, maybe even for his own benefit.
Mrožek was considered a dissident and anti-regime writer in the countries of the former Eastern bloc, while in the Western European countries he was placed among the dramatists' of the absurd, although Mrožek himself never agreed upon such classification. He was interested in the individual caught in the network of social relations. He was not interested in the absurd character of the world, but rather stressed out the need for common sense destroyed by false rationalism. In contrast with the representatives of the Absurd drama, he drew attention to the scrupulous abuse of man's natural aspiration to seek order and logic in the personal and social relations. In his work, he persistently sought logic and justice in interpersonal relations and was simultaneously aware that he would never find it. His body of stage plays does not demonstrate the historical past, but rather creates a post-utopian image of the world in which words would correspond to reality when the moral standards are given absolute value.
An absurdly comical and fantastic depiction of human folly, greed, struggle for power and political opportunism
Translator Uroš Kraigher
Director and Set Designer Jernej Kobal
Dramaturg Tatjana Doma
Costume Designer Leo Kulaš
Composer Petar Eldan
Language Consultant Jože Volk
Portraits of Infant King and Regent by Lola Arh Doma
Chief of Police Branko Završan
Prisoner, a former revolutionary, later the General's Aide-de-Camp Tarek Rashid
Sergeant, an agent provocateur Aljoša Koltak
Wife of the Sergeant-Provocateur Tanja Potočnik
General Bojan Umek
Policeman Damjan M. Trbovc
Opening 18 October 2014
Performance duration: 1 hour and 25 minutes. No interval.