Making Your Own Story of It

Oliver Frljić’s Klątwa (Engl.: “The Curse”) in Warsaw as a Theatre of Emancipation


  • Niklas Füllner Ruhr University Bochum



Oliver Frljić, Jacques Rancière, Polish theatre, Political theatre, Contemporary theatre, Historiography


The paper discusses Oliver Frljić’s production of Klątwa(Engl.: “The Curse”) which is based on the play with the same title by Stanisław Wyspiański. Klątwapremiered in Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw on 18 February 2017 and created the biggest theatre scandal in the early theatre history in Poland as both the right-wing government and the right-wing movement in Poland regarded it as blasphemous and – unsuccessfully – tried to prevent further performances. In KlątwaOliver Frljić questions the understanding of historiography promoted by the Polish government that prefers to focus only on stories about heroes and he criticises both the abuse of power in the church and in the institutionalized theatre. The strategies of Oliver Frljić’s political theatre are analyzed in the light of Jacques Rancière’s thoughts about critical theatre. In Klątwa Frljić develops a theatre of dissensus in the sense of Rancière. He undertakes a “dissensual re-configuration”[1]of political theatre by changing the frames, by playing around and by questioning the means used in theatre. But Frljić also deviates from this strategy when he creates images on stage that convey meanings directly and simply. Yet, these images fit into Frljić’s strategy of questioning the official Polish historiography by deconstructing the symbols it is based on. Oliver Frljić’s theatre of emancipation, a theatre that believes in the potential of the spectator to emancipate him- or herself as suggested by Rancière in The Emancipated Spectator (Rancière 2009), manages to make visible authoritarian and undemocratic developments in Polish politics and to offer a critical approach to history in contrast to the one-sided view the Polish government tries to establish.

[1]Rancière 2010, p. 140.

Author Biography

Niklas Füllner, Ruhr University Bochum

Niklas Füllner studied Theatre Studies and English Literature and Culture in Bochum, Bayreuth and Helsinki and holds a PhD in Theatre Studies from Ruhr University Bochum. He currently works as a research assistant at the Institute for Theatre Studies at Ruhr University Bochum in a research project called “Strategies of Political Theatre in Eastern Europe”, which is financed by the DFG, the German Research Foundation. He also teaches theatre theory and practice at Ruhr University Bochum and has worked as a puppeteer for several theatre companies.


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How to Cite

Füllner, N. (2020). Making Your Own Story of It: Oliver Frljić’s Klątwa (Engl.: “The Curse”) in Warsaw as a Theatre of Emancipation. Nordic Theatre Studies, 31(2), 49–60.



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