(Tom Sellar's article appeared in The Village Voice, November 3.)

Theatre of the Eighth Day Stages its Noted Wormwood

Few theatrical premieres have been as politically charged as Wormwood's 1985 opening in Poland. Staged by a dissident ensemble called Theatre of the Eighth Day, the production dared to openly portray life under Martial Law (declared in 1981) through poetry and gesture.

Now, 20 years after the Eastern bloc fell, Wormwood has returned with its original cast. Theatre of the Eighth Day—founded as a student ensemble in 1964—will perform the work at Abrons Art Center November 11 through 15. The presentation gives American audiences a rare glimpse at a staging now legendary in theater history.

Polish theaters had been temporarily closed following the military action, but had reopened under the scrutiny of censors and the Security Service. Wormwood was an unauthorized performance taking place in a university auditorium in Poznan. Company member Ewa Wojciak described the event in an e-mail to the Voice: "Everything was ready when the university rector appeared and explained to us that the building was surrounded by military police. She asked us to call off the premiere because there was a threat of the police intervening and the audience could be in danger. We had no way out. But because so many people had come from all around Poland for the premiere we quietly arranged for a performance the following day." They outwitted the authorities by doing it in the afternoon, an unheard-of time for theater events.


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