Magdalena Cielecka

https://soundcloud.com/kulturstruktur/magdalena-cielecka-interview/s-IyRoS The audio interview with Magdalena Cielecka was recorded on 7th March 2014 in Luxembourg. The interview is in polish. You can find a full english transcription below.

Magdalena Cielecka

Born in 1972.

She is a polish film and theatre actress.

She is part of the permanent troop of polish theatre director, Krzysztof Warlikowski, who is the artistic director of Nowy Teatr in Warsaw since 2008. She has played many roles in films and theatre pieces for the last fifteen years, mainly roles of lonely and lost protagonists. She is considered a real star in Poland, but only takes profit from that status to make (real) choices within the context of her work, like for example in Warlikowski’s theatre.

During the intermission of Kabaret Warszawski at the Grand Theatre de la Ville de Luxembourg last march, Magdalena has accepted to talk to Kulturstruktur. She describes her role in this piece, the piece itself, she talks about the director, who is her friend as well. She tells us about her physical and mental preparation for the roles she plays. And she talks about the particularities of female roles in theatre and cinema. Theatre offers more power, courage and probably more credibility. She has also delivered her point of view on the political context, the situation in Ukraine. She talked about this the moment when Russian government has been annexing Crimea at the beginning of march 2014. This is where you can hear her think about and anticipate upcoming threats. This audio interview is an essential reminder: one understands here the deep involvement of artists in the actual world.

Magdalena Cielecka

Née en 1972

Elle est actrice de cinéma et comédienne de théâtre d’origine polonaise.

Elle fait partie de la troupe permanente du metteur en scène, Krzysztof Warlikowski qui est le directeur artistique du Nowy Teatr à Varsovie, depuis 2008. Elle a incarné nombreux rôles durant ces quinze dernières années, au cinéma comme au théâtre, souvent de protagonistes esseulées ou perdues. Elle est considérée comme une véritable star en Pologne, mais ne tire profit de cela que pour pouvoir faire des choix plus engagés dans le contexte de son métier, comme cela est le cas pour le théâtre de Warlikowski.

Pendant l’entracte de Kabaret Warszawksi, derniere pièce de Krzysztof Warlikowski, en passage au Grand théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, en mars dernier, Magdalena a accepté de parler avec Kulturstruktur. Elle explique son rôle dans la pièce, la pièce elle-même, parle du metteur en scène et ami, de sa préparation physique et mentale pour incarner certains rôles ainsi que de la différence que présente les rôles féminins, d’une part au cinéma et d’autre part au théâtre. Le théâtre qui leur confère plus de force, de courage et sans doute de ce fait plus de crédibilité. Elle nous a également livré son point de vue sur le contexte politique, sur la situation en Ukraine au moment de l’annexion de la Crimée par la Russie, au début du mois de mars 2014. On l’entend ici réfléchir aux dangers à venir, anticiper. Cet entretien audio constitue un rappel essentiel: on comprend l’implication profonde des artistes et comédiens, dans le monde actuel. 

L’entretien est en langue polonaise, traduit en anglais, ci-dessous.

Magdalena Cielecka, photo: ©2014 Magda Hueckel
Magdalena Cielecka, photo: Magda Hueckel

Kulturstruktur: How are you feeling as an actress on this stage and in this play? And as a human being in these days of war threats.

Magdalena Cielecka: These issues are very distant from each other. I try to separate my private life from the theatre. I try to separate my reflections on the world and mankind condition from what I do on the stage. Of course it influences me. I really like acting in this play. I appreciate this performance as a whole. This work was difficult but interesting. It was satisfying on many levels. Of course, it is important what we, artists, do. I don’t mean this play only. It’s a kind of message to the world. Last autumn we went to Minsk to perform a play called ‘Apollonia’. I had doubts then about going to a regime country. where dictator rules. But people deserve it, and art in such moments is like a blessing. During martial law or communism my older friends also had a dilemma to play or not to play. Of course, not every performance is suitable. Art should reflect impartiality and freedom. It should be a spiritual experience. It should suit every situation. If we had a chance to go to Ukraine, we would risk and go there to play. It would be very important to us. It’s the universality of theatre and plots. Yes. Moreover, to put it simply, art lets people catch a breath and life in perspective. We don’t want to give them a distraction that helps them forget about their problems. A high art is like catharsis and like a spiritual relief. It’s not momentary. When we experience art we develop our spirituality. I believe that spirituality can be a weapon against somebody with the real one.

KS: How have you changed thanks to this play? Thanks to the Cabaret?

M. C.: I have changed physically. I had to do many hard physical exercises to prepare myself to the play. When I started it, I was 41 and I didn’t know if I could make it. I doubted and cried. But I didn’t give up. This role gave me enormous satisfaction. I got back in shape. Physically and mentally. I felt young again. I am grateful to Krzysiek Warlikowski for an opportunity to show the part of me which viewers didn’t know. I have never had such chance before. Usually, I played sad roles such as victims, suicides or mentally ill people. These were hard tasks. This character is also desperate. But there’s a lot of fun and sex appeal. I sing and dance. I use a lot of forgotten skills. Earlier, I didn’t have a chance to use them. It’s like returning to my dreams from before the drama school. In high school I used to sing. I participated in competitions of poetry set to music. And when I started working I didn’t have time for that. And now it’s all coming true. I am really happy.

KS: Is there any point in talking about a woman in theatre? Is it important if you are a man or a woman in theatre? Do women have bigger satisfaction?

M. C.: I’ve never thought about it. I think women are more important in theatre. They mean more. They can do more. They are more essential as characters in theatre. Contrary to movies, especially Polish ones, where the male hero is the pivot of the action. Women in Polish movies go unnoticed and unappreciated. They are like an decoration. Rarely, there’s a movie about a woman. In theatre, women can create interesting roles. And they have more opportunities. A few important directors, such as Krzysiek Warlikowski or Grzegorz Jarzyna told me that women have a bigger gift to play. They can offer more. Krzysztof often said that he prefers to work with women. For him, women are crucial in theatre. His theatre concentrates more around female. From his perspective, female characters are more unpredictable. She is full of contradictions and secrets. This is the source of inspiration. As I can see it you feel better as a drama actress. It’s hard to say. I play on TV, in movies and theatre. But theatre gives me more satisfaction. Movies are rare. And it’s rare to play a full character there. Theatre gives more opportunities for actresses. It’s better for us because we feel safer here. It’s a place of search. You can discover more. You can learn and make mistakes. You discover yourself. Movie has different rhythm. You have to use your drama skills to play in a movie. Theatre is like a base to develop as an actor. Movies are more expensive and there is less time to prepare. That is true. But what is more important is the whole process. It takes around 30 days to shoot pictures in feature film. There is no time to make mistakes or come up with new ideas. You get to the set at 8.00 and you act it at once. You have to create the role sometime before. Actors who play in movies and theatre, on the set use the ideas discovered on the stage.

Magdalena Cielecka, photo: ©2014 Magda Hueckel
Magdalena Cielecka, photo: Magda Hueckel

KS: Which scene is your favourite?

M. C.: Most of them. Have you seen the play?

KS: Yes, in Avignon.

M. C.: I love my star song Big Spender. I also like the first scene – English lesson. It is one of very few performances in which I like all the scenes. Some roles are more or less suitable for us. Some we like more, in others we fail. This play gives me lots of fun form the very star till the end. And the whole team fells the same way. This is the right time for our team. There are good and bad moments in our lives. People are tired. I was fed up with myself too and I needed a break from theatre some time ago. This play united us again. I am speaking on behalf of the whole team. Everyone has an equally interesting task to do.

KS: And maybe it’s because of the new theatre?

M. C.: This is also highly important for us. But it’s been 5 years now and it’s our fourth performance. We had some crisis. And now, Krzysztof chose a perfect time for the play. All of us were ready for the new challenge.

KS: Who would you like to work with the most?

M. C.: Let’s not narrow it only to Poland. I have never had dreams like that. Even as a young actress I didn’t have such examples to follow. I didn’t have to create any dreams as everything happened in real life. And these days I am not thinking about a particular person to work with. However, I would like to play in a good movie. I feel fulfilled in terms of theatre. But I had a 2-3 year break from movies. I miss big ambitious movie role. In Poland, not abroad.

KS: We’ve recently interviewed Luc Dardenne. He’s a Belgian movie director. He works with his brother and they have a month of rehearsals before they start shooting.

M. C.: In Poland, directors at my age and younger start to work in a similar way. Sometimes they work with no guarantee they will start shooting eventually. They meet and have rehearsals with actors for half a year and often with no payment. It is a very positive tendency. Directors realized no good movie can be created if you meet just 2 days before shooting. Any director all over the world doesn’t work like that anymore. Hollywood works differently. They shoot a movie in 12 months. In Europe it may take shorter but the new trend exists. And you can observe it in Poland too.

KS: And the last question. What have you recently seen or read that moved you deeply.

M. C.: Nothing comes to my mind right now.

KS: Maybe you’ve met someone special? Any young directors?

M. C.: I met many individuals, we can’t refer to them as a group. Each of them is completely different. We do have a few young directors that seem to be very promising. There is still a hope for Polish cinema. However, the issue that moves and intrigues me most is the situation in Ukraine. I know many Ukrainian people who live in Warsaw. The problem is very realistic to me as it is reflected in those people who have relatives there. We were in a similar situation during the revolution in Poland. That is why their problem is not indifferent to me. Polish people identify with Ukraine. They wonder why it is happening and what will happen next. We know from our experience that such revolution could be made with less victims.

Magdalena Cielecka, photo: ©2014 Magda Hueckel
Magdalena Cielecka, photo: Magda Hueckel

Interview made by Karolina Markiewicz and Pascal Piron. Translation by Katarzyna Żórawska and Anna Frejowska.

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