NEW YORK CITY: Did you know that there is a Polish Theatre Institute in the USA? Founded in 1984, this New York-based group is dedicated to the promotion of Polish culture in the U.S. through musical and theatrical performances.
The group describes itself as “a professional, nonprofit, bi-lingual theater organization, presenting staged Polish dramas, operas, musicals, cabarets, specials, dealing with Polish historical events…in all areas of endeavors, as well as in the arts, literature and music, whether classic or contemporary.”
If you want to get to know this very active group (all of you Polish avant-gardists out there may need apply), which performs in Polish and/or English, you are in luck: PTI is presenting a show, A Kaleidoscope of Polish Songs, 7:00 pm Thursday May 31 at Kosciuszko Foundation, located at 15 East 65th Street (between 5th and Madison Avenue).
Partially funded by the New York State Council on the Arts,, the show was originally built for touring. PTI organizers say that it is ideal for outdoor events and street festivals, adding, “However, it works on its own, as a regular stage show, while maintaining its street-theater character. The set is a backdrop of St. Anthony’s Church on Manhattan Ave., Greenpont, Brooklyn. It is performed by five actor/singers to piano/keyboard accompaniment. The show starts with a video showing the setting up of the stage and the performers getting into their costumes (oh, yes, there are costumes, lots of them) and singing and dancing.”
On Thursday, June 21, the show will be presented again (in an abbreviated version) during the Make Music New York festival. From 1:30 to 2:30pm, the show will perform at the courtyard of the Polish Slavic Center, 177 Kent Street, in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. And then from 6:00 to 7:00 pm on the same day, the show will be seen in Lower Manhattan at the corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street.
Polish Theatre Institute in the USA was created by a group of Polish theater artists who were refugees or became exiles of Communist/Soviet-occupied Europe. Their goal was to present and promote Polish culture, heritage and history to general audiences at a time when everything was either falsified, censored or banned by the Polish People’s Republic.
“Activists in Poland smuggled their song and literature to us which we used in our productions,” PTI Director Nina Polan says. “Once the countries became independent, we performed in Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine. We have a cast repertoire (28 programs) available for presentation. We also add two or three productions each season.” PTI has since performed around the U.S., including Chicago, Boston, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C.
The company website is www.poltheatreinst.com. Call 212-724-9323 or email at potheatreinst [at] aol [dot] com.