The Blind - The KTO Theatre
TOTAL THEATRE AWARDS nomination (Edinburgh 2012) In the category of Physical/ Visual Theatre
A PERFORMANCE WITHOUT WORDS
The script of this outdoor performance is inspired by the best-selling novel Blindness by the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago.
What seems to be fiction today may became reality tomorrow. People lose their eye-sight in unexplained circumstances. The epidemic spreads around so fast that everyone becomes helpless. It leads to panic which turns the apparently orderly world into chaos. The authorities urgently seclude the first group of blind people in a closed mental asylum. The secluded community begins to set their own rules. Some people become oppressors and some their victims, superiors and subordinates. And only one person knows that not everyone is blind...
The production The Blind is a shocking study of human condition.
The show has been presented in many cities in Poland as well as in Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain and Ukraine.
premiere June 2010
duration 60 mins.
After the initial perfectly pure moments in the style of Chekhov, Zon makes his characters hear a moan, and then he leads them, now the blind with milk at the bottom of their eyes, to the world of white metal beds. A woman with a violin, a man with a radio, a woman in a red dress, everyone. They will repeat the atrocity and the beauty.
(...) They will be good for each other and they will bite one another. They will create their god of whiteness and build for themselves a white hell. They will go on crusades. They will cause pain, repeat old gestures of tenderness, reach the bottom of debauchery. The pure peace of the first moments of the tale will soon evaporate. After the first scream Zon keeps accelerating the rhythm. He constructs an overwhelming hour. Image after image – there is more and more madness on the square. The crackle of white beds keeps growing, they turn into barricades, a wailing wall, the way of the cross or barred hollows where the blind get their moments of peace. More and more powerful winds sweep the dust from the ground. More and more ruthless music makes the heads burst until the end when a woman in red stands on a bed with her hand placed on the air. She is looking (...). As if she were checking if the lost city is returning to her from the whiteness or not. No? Yes? No. It is not coming back.
This is why (...) it is a must to go and see it. Watch. Perceive. Perceive at all costs.
Pawel Glowacki, "Dziennik Polski", Krakow
Krakow-based KTO Theatre pulls off a rare feat in combining stunning visual effects with a potent emotional impact in its gripping, wordless show "The Blind". Whether through pounding music, imagery that’s by turns shocking and poignantly beautiful, or its physical performers’ sheer animal energy, the company seems intent on engaging the audience in as direct a way as possible. And it works: it’s hard to tear your eyes off the show, no matter how harrowing it becomes.
David Kettle, "The List", Edinburgh
(…) When Saramago’s idiosyncratic universe was put together with that of the also idiosyncratic and politically concerned group KTO Theatre, a huge and violent wave of ideas was created in the form of this masterpiece, "The Blind", a word-free piece of spectacular outdoor theatre that combines the physicality of its performers with music and all sorts of extraordinary visual effects (…)
The monumental staging of this story – which includes a great scaffolding structure and a massive array of hospital beds that wheel and race and clatter across the space, along with pyrotechnic effects and a forceful soundtrack – succeeds admirably, and deals brilliantly with the epic proportions of Saramago's story (…)
"The Blind" captures all the deep impressions carved in Saramago’s book and brings the audience into its parallel universe of fear and blindness. A superb interpretation of this fantastic novel.
Joelson Gusson, Totaltheatrereview.com, Edinburgh
(...) the final 25 minutes deliver an eye-watering experience which is as visually stunning as anything you'll ever see: the sky appears to bleed red, glittering rain.
Lyn Gardner, "The Guardian", Edinburgh
(...) to a wailing crescendo of sound, as a roaring wind of change blows sparkling fragments through their lives, they begin to gasp and grope, as they realise that their whole city – perhaps their whole world – has been struck by blindness.
This is the opening sequence of "The Blind", by Theatre KTO of Krakow, (…) and it is spectacular enough in itself. What follows, though, in Jerzy Zon's production, is even more breathtaking, as the blinded citizens find themselves herded together in something like a giant hospital ward, where they use the wheeled beds to form aisles and barricades, ramparts and towers, battering-rams and creaking via dolorosas, along which – in one of many tremendous visual tableaux - they process in a desperate parody of faith.
There are ferocious conflicts and quiet efforts at cleansing and healing, battles, rapes and more frenzied dancing (...) And there are also echoes of other great literary images of blindness, from the blind seer Tiresias of Greek tragedy, to Maeterlinck's Les Aveugles, with its group of blind people on a troubled pilgrimage; in this powerful and beautifully acted visual drama about a society's instinctive response to a crisis that kills no-one, but changes everything, and reveals many disturbing truths.
Joyce McMillan, "The Scotsman", Edinburgh
When a production we watch is rooted in the novel of Jose Saramago, then it must cause pain. The story of human behaviour in the apocalyptic end of the world, (…) reflecting the structure of a former order through various configurations of hospital beds and making a great impression on the spectators. They know that they are watching a story about themselves, as several people from their group had joined the ball straight from the audience space. The fall of an individual is painful but the fall of a group of people is terrifying. We get frightened by our helplessness while facing a crowd where compassion and respect for another human being disappear. This process is rendered with great precision by the actors of the KTO Theatre. We face here a ruthless struggle for survival, a moving scene of rape where women in white night gowns are carried like victims of a hunt, like the trophies of men who will soon be terribly disgraced … In a nutshell, the borderline between a pretty, colourful waltz of beautiful ladies and gentlemen and their demonic tango is invisible, both in the redness of masculine passion and the cold blue light of feminine vengeance …
Małgorzata Wysocka-Błaszczak, Sztukaulicy.pl, Warsaw
The KTO Theatre delighted me. Director Jerzy Zoń presented his vision of a totalitarian world. (…) You will see more than you think.
Joanna Weryńska, "Polska Gazeta Krakowska", Krakow
script, direction and selection of music: Jerzy Zon
stage set: Joanna Jasko-Sroka
costumes: Zofia De Ines, Joanna Jasko-Sroka
choreography: Eryk Makohon
Performers: Karolina Bondaronek, Barbara Dyduch, Dominika Feiglewicz, Anna Jaworska, Danuta Kulesz-Różycka, Paulina Lasyk, Justyna Orzechowska, Grażyna Srebrny-Rosa, Urszula Swałtek, Marta Zoń, Sławomir Bendykowski, Bartosz Cieniawa, Aleksander Kopański, Michał Orzyłowski/Mateusz Kmiecik, Paweł Monsiel, Adam Plewiński