The slogan “Stitching Europe together” was coined thirty years ago by Krystyna Meissner, who was looking for a common denominator for the performances from Poland and elsewhere in Europe, from the East and West of the continent, from both sides of the Iron Curtain, to be invited to Toruń. I never thought that the need to repeat this slogan would arise again. In the meantime, we were divided by the pandemic and then the war in Ukraine. Western European theatre companies are now less willing to go on tour than they used to be, financial disproportions between their expectations and our possibilities are growing, for ethical and political reasons, distinguished theatre companies and individual artists from Russia and Belarus are and will remain lost to us for a very, very long time … Nevertheless, the idea of Europe united by theatre, communicating with itself and with the rest of the world through performances, was and is an extraordinary idea. I would like to remain faithful to it. Hence the idea of returning to the slogan coined by Krystyna Meissner and making the first step towards continuing her formula of the Kontakt festival. This year’s festival was conceived as a prologue, an overture to its fuller subsequent editions. For the time being, we are setting directions for further repertoire searches, remember about the “close neighbours” discovered for Polish theatrelovers by Krystyna Meissner, and focus on valued male and female leaders of European explorative theatre.
Kontakt has always been a place where the past and the future meet. Toruń in the 1990s was perceived as the most important Polish window to European theatre. It opened our eyes to theatre made by our neighbours, and emphasized the importance of conversation about values over barriers. It was here that intriguing clashes between artists and performances took place, where we forged new aesthetic principles and a new theatrical language that has been functioning for many years. It is our task to maintain the original goal and temperature of the festival. Rather than impose themes to think about on the audience, the performances invited to our new Kontakt should orchestrate a dialogue between ideas and styles, characters and images, the past and the future, in an attempt to try to stitch Europe together again, filling it with new emotions, and saving our tiny private worlds one more time. Welcome to the Kontakt festival!
Renata Derejczyk Festival Director