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The Possessed

photo: Wojciech Plewinski


Some people attacked my production, thinking it silly to show figures dressed in black agaist the wall, indicating the possessed and the nearness of hell. But I had to find some way to show the world of that enormous, thick book to the audience. There is no such thing as a cool reading of Dostoyevsky, let alone viewing him on the stage. I had learned to read The Possessed with Marek Hlasko. I think that he understood a lot from that novel; the ambiguity of the characters fascinated him. What we, as young men, had seen with our own eyes, this confusion of good and evil, greatness and iniquity, is the thing we search for in The Possessed. And it still is the most fascinating thing about this book. This is what I tried to show in the theatre.

Andrzej Wajda,
cit. cf: "Dostojewski - teatr sumienia", Warszawa 1991, p.83.

In his performance Wajda has shown (...) people possesed by "evil powers", who are unable to understand the world and themselves, and blindly rush towards doom, breathless, terrified, but unable to stop. Hence not only the flamboyance but also the "momentum" of the production, its breathless, spasmodic rhythm, its ecstatic nerviness. It appears not only in the cries-whispers of the sound background, not only in the restless editing of the consecutive scenes. The intention of the director was understood and enhanced by the actors. (...) The moment when Stavrogin disappears upstage after refusing to cooperate with Wierchoviensky's group, and the latter runs after him in desperation - that is truly great theatre. Pszoniak [Wierchoviensky] with tousled hair, with hands trashing the air in a crazy whirlwind, scurried with small steps after the departing, indifferent figure of Nowicki [Stavrogin]. And though the physical dimensions of the stage are limited, the chase seemed to last for ever, as if the actors were entering the horizon - of the stage and the earth.

Maciej Karpinski,
"Andrzej Wajda - teatr", Warszawa 1980, p.108-109.

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