A Tale of Unity

29 July 2021

The international social project returns to Kraków to promote tolerance and love.

The project Orfeo & Majnun has been bringing together people of all races, nationalities, cultures and politics in Brussels, Aix-en-Provence, Rotterdam, Vienna and Valetta since 2018. Recalling the Ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and the classic Persian story of Majnun and Layla, the international social initiative shows how many common elements can be found in seemingly distant cultures. You might think that East and West – civilisations of the Middle East and Europe – are vastly different, but love is still love, longing is still painful, and death is still devastating.

Events held as part of Orfeo & Majnun are a multilingual manifestation of tolerance and unity; they bring together marginalised communities and engage and integrate residents in different parts of Europe. The production’s Austrian director Martina Winkel says: “Each city participating in the project develops the mythical tales, giving them its own colour, flavour and taste, and the people who it them imbue it with a unique atmosphere.” The Cracovian premiere of the project was due to be held in March 2020, but the event had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The initiative arrives in August in a refreshed, magical summer staging. “In the context of the pandemic, when so many of us have been struggling, Orfeo & Majnun – telling the tale of the complex ties between love, loss and longing – has taken on a new, very tangible dimension,” says Anna Kwiatkowska, coordinator of events held as part of the project at Zgody 7.

One of the most important elements are workshops aimed at different social groups in Kraków. “More than anything we want to bring the project to people who want to work together and who want to stand up to the ubiquitous consumerism. We also want to show the scale of the potential which can be found beyond major cultural institutions and beyond the city centre: in local clubs, small cultural centres and spaces ran by amateurs from nongovernmental circles,” adds Daniel Arbaczewski, curator of Poland’s instalment of the project.

There is something for everyone. Dominika Feiglewicz from the Migawka Foundation in Kraków and the deaf actress Patrycja Jarosińska have prepared workshops for ten hearing and deaf young people. They explain, “We reach for the story of Orpheus and Eurydice to search for a universal language of theatre by combining sign language, dance and theatre. Sign language will serve as a starting point for finding movements which express the emotions of our bodies.” The classic tales will also visit the residents of the Social Care Home at 41 Łanowa Street. “These adults have long-term mental health problems. Orfeo & Majnun is a great opportunity for integration by opening up to new spaces, new stimuli and new experiences. We will reach for a variety of artistic techniques to gradually build a mythological cycle of stories about love, loss and longing,” says Agata Widomska, organiser of the workshops. Zgody 7 hosts children’s events exploring emotions and whether they vary depending on age, skin colour or nationality. “We will talk about our most powerful emotions, both the beautiful ones such as love and friendship and the less so, such as sadness and loneliness. We will also think about whether art can help people who are going through hard times, and the role of animals and nature in our lives,” adds Anna Kwiatkowska. Older people will also explore the difficult issues of human emotions guided by the actor, director and theatre instructor Mateusz Przyłęcki. “We will spend a lot of time talking, sharing our life experiences, doing simple exercises to stimulate imagination and creativity, reading and discussing texts together, exchanging reflections and seeking artistic expressions for themes inspired by the myths,” he says. The results will be published on Facebook as a series of videos of the participants (Orfeo & Majnun – workshops for seniors). The visuals for the podcasts will be prepared by the artist and stage designer Agnieszka Polańska.

An important element of the Orfeo & Majnun project are animal puppets. The extraordinary interpretations of Pegasus, Cerberus and many birds are made by Vero Schürr and Roger Titley. “The presence of puppets in our project can be described as storytelling design. By putting the forms in motion and thus giving them life, we build narratives which stir powerful, usually positive emotions. It’s important that most of the puppets are made by amateurs and volunteers who later operate them. This means they are with us at all stages, bringing us closer together as a creative community,” adds Daniel Arbaczewski. The campaign is also joined by activists from the Siostry Rzeki collective and people involved with the School Strike for Climate and CSW Wiewiórka. “During eight workshops Fish in Fashion, we created a collection of 26 fish which will accompany the story of love and longing. We want to bring together the human and aquatic worlds – the world of rivers, which is still largely unknown. Our collection will be a celebration of our enchantment with nature,” says Cecylia Malik, artist and fashion designer specialising in upcycling.

As well as workshops held as part of the Orfeo & Majnun project, there will also be a range of accompanying open events (prior booking may be necessary). The project headquarters will be at a marquee erected in Jordana Park as part of Kraków Culture Summer. Events will include puppetry, painting and environmental workshops and reading sessions for the youngest visitors. Music fans can look forward to a concert featuring elements of the opera Orfeo & Majnun, planned for 20 August at a nearby small stage. The organisers will also host walks in the city space as part of the initiative “Become a Visitor in Your Own City!” Finally, events as part of Kids in Kraków at Zgody 7 will be held at 11am on every Sunday in August.

Zamknij We use cookies to facilitate the use of our services. If you do not want cookies to be saved on your hard drive, change the settings of your browser.