Poster: Stepau, 1981 - Teatre Nowy, 1981. Gift of Sara and Marc Benda. 2009-20-24.

Out With the Old, In With the “Nowy”

This off-set lithograph shows a black and white image of a film strip depicting men carrying signs and marching forward.  The juxtaposition of the vivid orange paint splatters on a grey background draws the viewer into the piece. Strips of orange strategically frame the edges of the rectangle, and appear to sit on top of the surface. In the upper right hand corner, text reads “TEATR NOWY"; the text across bottom reads "Oskarzony: CZERWIEC PIECDZIESIATSZESC.” The direct translation from Polish into English is “New Theater,” and “The Accused, June 1956.”

What makes this theater new? The theater the text refers to depicts a historical landmark that represented a shift between the two World Wars and Poland’s sole source of entertainment at the time. The antithesis of the old Polski Theater, calling it the New Theater suggested a less serious, light hearted genre. The founder of New Theatre was Mieczysław Rutkowski. Throughout a twenty year time span, many directors held positions there and various dramas and concerts were performed. By the 1980’s the theater became known for its political involvement, a prime example of this being the performance staged in 1980 entitled "The Defendant:  June 1956". This political performance references the The Poznań 1956 protests, also known as Poznań 1956 uprising. The working class were protesting against communist dictatorial government and better working conditions. The protest resulted in many injuries to the Polish people and a period of political persecution.

The poster illustrates a major shift in society; furthermore associating the act of protesting as an act of performance. This image is a culmination of many time periods, and an architectural and artistic revolution. The marching men mimic the move for change through time. The paint splatter graphically connotes the protests violent reaction while also celebrating a new arena for Poland where their voices could now be heard.

Museum Number: 
2009-20-24