About the project
LINKAGES: Poland is a multi-year initiative designed to forge long-term, artist-to-artist connections between a new generation of theatre artists/leaders in the US and Poland. The project was conceived in 2019 in tandem with LINKAGES:Hungary, which was a response to the Orbán government’s takeover of the 154-year-old Academy of Drama and Film (SZFE), and designed to build connections between American graduate students and their Hungarian counterparts who led an extended boycott of the Academy.
By contrast, LINKAGES: Poland was a response to a sea change in professional theatre leadership in both the US and Poland, particularly a shift toward more women, artists of color, and young leaders who grew up in the post-Communist era. Working with Polish scholar Malgorzata Semil, we invited eight of the most exciting new theatre leaders in Poland for extended Zoom conversations with American counterparts during the pandemic. Topics discussed included the most pressing themes affecting theatre in both countries: the challenge of making theatre in polarized societies, new demands for fairness & representation, new artistic processes and forms of expression, survival strategies in the face of funding cuts, and most recently, efforts to support Ukrainian artists. Poles and Americans were eager to learn from one another and discovered that they faced many of the same challenges.
In June 2022, with the pandemic finally in retreat, we sent Project Director Howard Shalwitz, Project Manager Brandice Thompson, and our very first program participant, Julieanne Ehre of PivotArts in Chicago to Poland for nine days of meetings with our zoom partners and other artists. In December 2022, CITD organized a delegation of five diverse and influential American theatre leaders and a noted theatre journalist to attend the 15th edition of the Divine Comedy Festival in Kraków. The premiere annual festival of new Polish theatre, Divine Comedy is attended by theatre artists and producers from around the world. Our delegation laid a foundation for further CITD-sponsored visits to Poland over the coming years, as well as invitations for Polish artists to visit the US. Possible future collaborations have already emerged from LINKAGES: Poland. CITD will facilitate these explorations and serve as a conduit to producers, agents, and funding sources to help these plans come to fruition.
CITD’s experience over many years has proven that when creative artistic leaders get to know one another, they find ways to engage and collaborate over time. By building substantive relationships based on shared goals and challenges, we expect our project to have a long-term impact in both countries.
CITD Associate Director
LINKAGES: Poland Project Director
Howard co-founded Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC in 1980 and guided the company as Artistic Director for 38 seasons. Under his leadership, Woolly Mammoth grew from a tiny alternative theatre into one of the nation's most influential producers of provocative new plays. He has directed and performed in works by American and international playwrights – at New York Theatre Workshop, Playwrights Horizons, Arena Stage, Portland Center Stage, Milwaukee Rep, Woolly Mammoth, and other US theaters. In 2014 he received the prestigious Margo Jones Award for his lifetime commitment to new American plays. Over the past decade, partnering with CITD, Shalwitz has sought new models for American theatre by engaging with artists in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Russia, and sharing his insights with the US theatre field. Currently he is heading up CITD’s Linkages: Poland project, building new relationships between Polish and American theatre leaders. He teaches in the graduate theatre program at the University of Maryland and is currently working on a book about the language of theatre.
Reflecting on the Timeliness of Polish Theatre at Kraków’s Divine Comedy Theatre Festival 2 March 2023
How a play about a pope's last days reveals the stark reality of dying 19 January 2023
Theater at the edge of war: Laughs, brutal truths and a Zelensky spoof 6 January 2023