Hunting wasps. A story of life and death

One of the most infamous and most shocking crimes of the 1990s Poland. A robbery that led to a brutal murder. Perpetrators: three high school seniors. The sentence: life in prison.

Before the trial a media circus unfolds in which the brother-in-law of the victim plays a significant role. He engages psychics, makes TV appearances. The public opinion is agitated by the fact that one of the offenders is a girl – Monika O. Sensation-seeking media stage a public execution of her image. Some describe Monika as a coldly calculating manipulator and initiator of the attack, others compare her to a beastly animal.

Wojciech Tochman’s book on which the play is based presents the entire story in a new light. It exposes mechanisms of how people project their own fears on the convicted person, and how the hate emerges. It questions the meaning of the inhumane punishment of life in prison. The Court in Strasbourg considers this punishment torture, as the convicted have no prospects for release or rehabilitation. It is also an attempt to see a human being in Monika – a young person who strayed.

Since the antiquity the role of theatre has been to reflect on justice, exploring paradoxes of law, the issues of guilt and punishment. In October in Poland, the most severe prison sentences were further increased. Thus, the condemned are practically deprived of the opportunity to return to society.

Together with the STUDIO team, director and artistic director Natalia Korczakowska created a play, based on Wojciech Tochman’s documentary story, that challenges our stereotypical thinking about the most hated figures and people excluded from society. The story of Monika O., sentenced to life in prison in the 1990s, is a study of basic societal values: free will, personal freedom and the role of media that follow the emotions of the mob and wield tools to perform a symbolic execution.

“Hunting Wasps. A Story of Life and Death” is a multimedia spectacular using various forms (video art, live concert, choreography) and telling the story from multiple perspectives by multiple narrators. The audience of the play will also be able to watch it in different ways, due to some seats available on stage.

 

***

Wojciech Tochman, Historia na śmierć i życie, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 2023

Information about the book:

A crime that cannot be forgiven, and its victim. A family drama from which it is impossible to recover. A condemned woman and her boundless hurt. In this reportage where true crime meets psychological drama Wojciech Tochman writes about a girl who paid for her youth, gender and beauty with all that she had and all that she could have had. The author also pays tribute to extraordinary reporter Lidia Ostałowska. She was the first to document this long tale. The book is their joint story – about violence, fear, revenge, longing and injustice. It begins in mid-90s, it continues for a quarter of a decade in Poland under transformation, until today—and it is not over.

 

 

PARTNER OF THE PREMIERE

Creators

TEXT

Wojciech Tochman

DIRECTOR

Natalia Korczakowska

ADAPTATION OF THE TEXT

Natalia Korczakowska, Marcin Cecko

DRAMATURG

Marcin Cecko

SCENOGRAPHY AND COSTUMES

Marek Adamski

COSTUME ASSISTANT

Marcin Żak

MULTIMEDIA

Marek Kozakiewicz

CAMERA OPERATORS

Gloria Grünig, Janusz Szymański

ANIMATIONS

Marcin Kosakowski

MUSIC

The Blu Mantic & L.Ø.V. Music Group

LIGHTING DESIGN

Bartosz Nalazek

CHOREOGRAPHY

Ramona Nagabczyńska, Karolina Kraczkowska

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Marcel Osowicki

PRODUCTION MANAGER

Monika Balińska

Reviews

Aneta Kyzioł / polityka.pl

(...) in Korczakowska’s play, the case of a brutal murder who dominated Polish media in the 1990s becomes a lens focusing partly still current social mechanisms.

Katarzyna Harłacz / teatrdlawszystkich.eu

It is a brilliant play, rich in varied artistic devices, distinguished by an interesting musical aspect, multi-layered narration and profound message. All this makes for a moving drama, strongly affecting the audience at multiple levels, forcing them to reflect and reevaluate the way in which we judge people and difficult, ambiguous situations.

Rafała Rutkowski / rafalturow.ski

Most definitely – its strongest point is the excellent acting of the entire cast.

 
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