12th International Storytelling Festival: Superheroes?

12th International Storytelling Festival


November 15-19, 2017

Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute

Warsaw, 1 Jazdów Street

The Storytelling Festival has been made possible by funding from the City of Warsaw and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

Organized by:

Stowarzyszenie Grupa Studnia O


At the beginning was inconvenience.

Perhaps this is the hidden initial sentence of all genesis myths and origin stories? A long, long time ago, at the beginning, something was fundamentally wrong. It irked, it displeased, it needed to be moved, changed, or at least seen – why it is like like it is and whether it has to be that way.

Movement, and with it the story of what has just happened, begins when we no longer content ourselves with answers like “because it’s always been like that,” “because this is the truth,” or simply “because this is how it is.”

Such is our short myth about this year’s International Storytelling Festival. It might as well be called the “Hole-Picking Festival” or the “Festival of Looking Where No One Has Asked Us.”

Something was wrong with all those grand narratives. This year therefore we are asking about superheroes and where they are today. Traditional stories, especially epic ones, offer familiar patterns: heroism equals power, and ultimately only the victors are heroes. So much has been said about them that we don’t need to return to that. What we are looking for in these well-known stories are other voices.

These are not reinterpretations. This is a listening exercise. An exercise in term usage: perhaps heroism is not a deed but an omission, not a gesture but a lowered hand, not an acceptance of a challenge but a refusal? Perhaps it will ultimately turn out that there is no greater victory than to lose well and this is actually something that we will all succeed at?

That we do not know. But, as every year, we are thrilled to invite you to embark on a journey across times and spaces where you will hear many languages, listening to stories told in the voices of women and men, elders and youngsters.

Get on board then!

Wednesday, November 15

10.00 and 11.30


Agnieszka Ayşen Kaim, Albert Kwiatkowski – storytelling

Marcin Zadronecki – Balkan and Middle Eastern traditional instruments

The unique journey begins with an empty trunk that during the performance is filled with stories from the Oriental tradition. The space of history turns now into a princess’s chamber, now into a marketplace resounding with voices and music. We meet fairy-tale and song vendors, and storytellers. Joint singing, making hawker calls in Oriental languages, and solving hard-to-guess riddles are part of the show too.

For children aged 6 and up

Duration: 1 hour

Wednesday, November 15



Barbara Derlak – singing, harps

Sebastian Wielądek – duduk, hurdy-gurdy, ney, bansuri, frame drum

Sebastian is an instrument charmer, able to produce sound from a plastic pipe or a stork shin. Known for his participation in bands like Yerba Mater, Gadająca Tykwa, or Wielbłądy.

Basia is the leader of Chłopcy kontra Basia. She loves old texts: she reads them, extracting the tastiest bits, which she then rearranges to generate new meanings. As a religious studies scholar, she is most interested in apocrypha, be it non-canonical Scripture gospels or folk tales about Biblical characters and events.

The duo will present a premiere program consisting of songs and stories, based on apocryphal writings such as the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, the Protoevangelium of James, the Georgian Gospel, or the Syriac Infancy Gospel. The selected motifs comprise a chronological whole that begins with the legend of Simeon the God-Receiver and ends with a story about Jesus’ miraculous birth.

Duration: 1 hour

Wednesday, November 15



Małgorzata Litwinowicz, Beata Frankowska, Agnieszka Ayşen Kaim, Jarosław Kaczmarek – storytelling 

Katarzyna Jackowska-Enemuo and Adam Cudak – music

Edward Wojtaszek – directing supervision

We have all heard about windmills. How the dense world of the novel has come to be epitomized by this singular image is something no one knows. Our performance evokes the many faces of Don Quixote: he is a man of high morals yet one obnoxious in his obstinacy, great in his elations yet contemptuous and pitiable. After all, he always loses completely, always lands on the ground beaten and humiliated. He forces us to confront the scale of our own feelings, being fascinating as much as miserable, admirable as much as irritating and loathsome. Yet there is a lot of laughter in his woe, and his eccentricities convey a great joy and an overwhelming dream: one day we will be free.

Don Quixote is also a story about writing, about the author hidden between the pages, about the game he plays with us, the listeners and readers. As well as about the times of Cervantes and the fact that people are quite the same today as they were 400 years ago.

Duration: 80 minutes

Thursday, November 16

10.00 and 11.30


Łukasz Szypkowski – fiddle

Emilia Raiter – Gothic harp, harp

Olena Yeremenko – nyckelharpa, moraharpa

There lived a king in the east

Where a green grove grows

And there lived a lady in the west

Where the heart keeps returning.

From the east to the west went the songs: of unfaithfulness, of love, of longing, of crime, and of meeting Others. We have collected them – songs about the cruel sister who kills the younger one out of envy, about Tom who could never lie, about Lady Isabel abducted by the elves. There are folk songs among them as well as courtly ones, songs by anonymous authors and by famous poets.

The Cruel Sister is a journey from the east to the west of Europe, tracing the most popular ballad themes. Motifs and characters – such as the child killer or the eponymous cruel sister – spread around the continent, morphing into different versions sung in many languages. It is always the same story, but each time playing itself out differently. Sometimes it deals with ordinary events, shocking in their plentitude of malefaction and misfortune; and sometimes with extraordinary ones, stirring the imagination with uncanniness, strange encounters, the unknown and longed for or, conversely, the terrifying, avoided, portending possible annihilation.

Besides pieces by anonymous authors from Scotland, England, France, Ukraine, and Poland, we will listen to poetry by Bolesław Leśmian, Seweryn Goszczyński, and Aleksander Chodźko. This is also a program about the fluid boundary between literature and everyday storytelling about extraordinary events.

All this woven around a hundred strings, spoken and sung in the voices of Emilia Raiter, Olena Yeremenko, and Łukasz Szypkowski.

For viewers aged 16 and up

Duration: 1 hour

Thursday, November 16



Michel Hindenoch

Stories are from nowhere, yet they are everywhere. They have no nationality and speak in all languages. No border has ever stopped them. No epoch, no land, no family, no talker… For their planetary march not to stop in front of my door, I give them my voice, my language, my music. I am a storyteller: a man of today who tells stories older than the world and younger than recent rain to people of today.

The myths and stories of ancient Greece are our roots, distant yet always present. The lives of gods and heroes, even if invented, are able to shed light on what we experience daily in the depths of our souls.

The Cretan myth cycle, with protagonists like Theseus, Ariadne, the Minotaur, Minos, or Pasiphaë, has survived only in dispersed fragments. And yet today, as in the past, storytelling remains the most convenient way to access myth. Asterios. The Legend of the Minotaur is an attempt to connect the fragments into one great story, a musical epic, where word and music intermix, merge, and become lost in each other so that – and this is the power of storytelling – we can share the experience of an inner adventure.

Performance in French, with Polish subtitles

Duration: 80 minutes

Thursday, November 16



Raphael Rodan (Israel), Sahand Sahebdivani (Iran) – storytelling

Iman Spaargaren and Guillermo Celano – music

Storytellers Raphael Rodan and Sahand Sahebdivani are close friends that come from enemy countries, Iran and Israel. In My Father Held a Gun, they decide to confront their past, being the sons of men who lived through wars and revolutions. Do they measure up to the examples that were set by those who came before them? They realize that if life had taken a slightly different direction their fathers would have been aiming their guns at each other. How will this realization effect their friendship?

In the performance, they are accompanied by two virtuosos: Iman Spaargaren and Guillermo Celano.

Performance in English with an introduction in Polish

Duration: 90 minutes

Friday, November 17

10.00 and 11.30


Beata Frankowska, Albert Kwiatkowski – storytelling

Adeb Chamoun (Syria), Mateusz Szemraj (Poland) – music

Katarzyna Szpilkowska – scenography

When Syrian refugee children stopped for a while in Greece, they were presented with the viaticum of handmade rucksacks containing travel diaries with a fragment of The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor. We will follow them, tracing small stories that still happen on land and sea. We will also follow in the footsteps of Polish children who, during wartime, found shelter in distant lands: under the protection of the Good Maharaja in India and in the Iranian town of Isfahan. Serving as our guide will be Sinbad the Sailor, a brave traveler who never loses hope.

The show’s scenery includes a map designed by Katarzyna Szpilkowska, showing the routes of refugees past and present. The musical setting is provided by two performers: the renowned Polish multi-instrumentalist Bart Pałyga, and Adeb Chamoun, a Syrian-born musician who has been based in Poland for several years now. His presence in the show is particularly important, for he has personally witnessed the kind of stories that are narrated here.

For children aged 8 and up

Duration: 70 minutes

Friday, November 17



text based on the Odyssey by Kora Gałązka and Ula Kijak

narrative inspiration: Małgorzata Litwinowicz

directed by Ula Kijak

music by Maria Rumińska

performed by Magda Karel and Maria Rumińska

What would this journey be like if we used a different map?

Based on the OdysseyNot This Way is a performance in which it is women who lead the way; not only their biographies and stories, but also their speech. Isn’t it so that among the epic genres is hurried, breathless speaking (since you know that if you stop, someone else will intercept your voice)? Speaking that expects correction and adjustment (for even if you are relating your life yourself, someone else can best explain it to you)? Is there no shouting among them (for that, following many efforts to break through, is all that has been left to you)? No speaking through a tight throat? Why this has happened so is an interesting question. We break through the veil of speaking. We do not “tour” the biographies of the Odyssey women. They are the hosts – we let them speak.

Duration: 45 minutes

Friday, November 17



Manya Maratou (Greece)

Priam. Ransom is an epic work consisting of scenes from the Iliad. We follow King Priam as he enters the darkest of nights to do what no mortal has ever dared to do: to put his lips to the hand of the man who killed his son. Manya Maratou retells the last book of the Iliad, accompanying herself on a self-made one-string instrument. The narrative is rhythmic and melodic, with spoken word alternating with songs and chants, and contemporary language with a traditional epic form.

Manya Maratou is a storyteller and multi-instrumentalist who plays a number of traditional Greek instruments (darbouka, defi, daouli). She is also one of the pioneers of the Greek storytelling revival. Storytelling since 1996, her extensive repertoire includes myths and traditional stories; she also runs storytelling workshops. She started working with Homeric poems in 2o06, and the performance presented in Warsaw is one of the many versions of this work.

Performance in Greek and English with an introduction in Polish

Duration: 1 hour

Friday, November 17



Magda Lena Górska (Poland/France) – narration, songs, drum

Serge Tamas (Guadeloupe/France) – guitar, manouba 

„My Wallenrod story began when as a 10-year-old girl I heard my older brother chanting, rock music-style, the ballad “Las Alpujarras,” which he had learned from a friend at a summer camp. The lyrics clicked instantly and I too started singing the story of Almanzor’s vengeance, understanding it only partly and being completely unaware that I was dealing with a literary masterpiece that I’d discover in a few years’ time in the literature textbook at school. Thus Mickiewicz’s ballad became the only story that I’ve actually received via oral tradition.”

For years Konrad Wallenrod was a text that people knew by heart, a text shared by a community of underground activists and rebels, reflecting the power of its message and its perfect form. This is a song of madness, despair, struggle at all cost, megalomania, self-destruction. And an amazing Gothic story.

The project is an attempt to find an audio form for Mickiewicz’s poetic phrasing. Oscillating between singing, melodic recitation, and storytelling to rhythmic accompaniment, it combines European music traditions with the effervescence of African rhythms.

Duration: 2 hours

Saturday, November 18



Magda Lena Górska – percussion instruments

Serge Tamas – storytelling, songs, guitar, manouba

Two voices – two worlds. Seemingly distant, yet very close. Together they tell stories, sing songs, and dance a mazurka whose source is in one of the great lakes of Poland in order to drum syncopated rhythms over the Caribbean Sea. They narrate the story of a magic tree that cannot be felled, and of an unruly billy-goat that used to be a boy. Animal power, ancient wisdom, and mysterious beauty ooze from the Slavic and Creole tales. The wave of music carries us from Baba Yaga’s forest directly to a Caribbean beach, where we dance the biguine in the company of crabs and a turtle.

Performance in Polish, French, and Creole

Duration: 1 hour

For children aged 6 and up and their guardians

Saturday, November 18



Abbi Patrix (France)

Stories, legends, myths, anecdotes, personal memories, fill the storyteller’s diary day by day. Time is frozen for a moment so that stories collected throughout one’s life can be told. The journey in a place is a trip through connotations, feelings, and memory. Straddling the boundary between literary material and oral improvisation, Abbi Patrix unfolds stories, investing them with new contexts, as a result of which they always happen here and now. Norwegian traditional tales, African myths, Chinese fantasy stories, and wise parables from India remind us how diverse and complex the world is. Between the sun of the East and the moon of the West, we encounter trolls and jinns, dragons, kings and princesses, priests, merchants, and thieves, as well as frogs, turtles, monkeys, ravens, and owls. Abbi Patrix cares nothing about national borders and his straightforwardness allows him to get useful advice from fairies, discover that trolls are neither funny nor small, remember that jinns are not always invisible and that it is them who have taught men music, and finally to find out why land turtles live on land and why frog skin looks the way it does.

Duration: 1 hour

Saturday, November 18



Michel Hindenoch (France)

Storyteller, musician, and visual artist, Michel Hindenoch has been a leading figure of the storytelling revival in France. In the 1960s, he was involved in the French folk music revival. A storyteller since 1978, he began with the Grimms’ tales, and his projects draw on various sources, from ancient Greek myths (Asterios. The Legend of the Minotaur) to Native American folk tales. He has revived the Old French literary cycle about Reynard the cunning fox.

A master of mood-building and the musical word, he accompanies himself on the Hungarian zither and the pan flute.

His latest show, The Enraptured, is a merry journey, based on the oral tradition of various French regions (Provence, Auvergne, and Brittany), to the land of simpletons and village idiots, the innocent, lost, and losing. It is a trip undertaken for the sheer pleasure of going against the grain of a topsy-turvy world, at a time when the arrogance and tyranny of the victors overwhelms us. One from which you return with an open mind and a light heart.

Performance in French

Magda Lena Górska – onstage translation

Duration: 90 minutes

Saturday, November 18



“There is no need to weep,” answered Sancho, „for I will amuse your worship by telling stories from this till daylight” . . . and coming close to him he laid one hand on the pommel of the saddle and the other on the cantle so that he held his master’s left thigh in his embrace, not daring to separate a finger’s width from him; so much afraid was he of the strokes which still resounded with a regular beat. . . . “I will strive to tell a story which, if I can manage to relate it, and nobody interferes with the telling, is the best of stories . . .”

And such will be the night: everyone brings a story that this night, for these listeners, will be the best of stories. And so will the hours pass, filled with tales, speeches, and vociferations, with ballads and chants, rendered to different rhythms and in different languages.

The night will be hosted by Grupa Studnia O storytellers (Małgorzata Litwinowicz, Beata Frankowska, Agnieszka Ayșen Kaim, and Jarosław Kaczmarek), with the audience composed of the Festival artists, and the Festival orchestra conducted by Emilia Raiter and Olena Yeremenko.

And so it will be: “One day there was what was. There happened what happened, and may the good happen to us all, and the evil to those who seek evil.”

Sunday, November 19


RARÓG, EASTER, AND KOGEL-MOGEL, or, stories about the egg

Katarzyna Jackowska-Enemuo – stories, songs, instruments

Adam Cudak – bouzouki, flutes, doudouk, mandolin

Ola Rózga – visual setting, shadows, light

A story about a world that started with an egg. About Pang, the first man, who was born in an egg and has created everything that exists. About the immaculate Ilmatar of Norse lore, and the fat duck that made a nest on her knee. About Easter eggs (kraszankas and pisankas) and witches, about diseases and spells. About the Ivan the Fool who traveled underground and found three kingdoms enclosed in eggs and three princesses who wanted to decide about themselves. And finally – about kogel-mogel. We don’t know what came first – the egg or the hen. But we do bring old stories, tunes, riddles, spells, and a fable, a true fable, in which, like in the egg shell, everything is contained. And, well, we also have time-travel eggs for you.

For children aged 4 and up

Duration: 1 hour

Sunday, November 19



Regina Sommer (Germany)

Who was the king who perhaps existed but perhaps not, and who became an inspiration for many poets, that we study his adventures, consider his motivations, dream and write about him? Why the memory of him was so long-lasting and vivid among the Celts and Britons as well as in the whole Christian world? Was he the one to realize the myth of a world that leaves in peace for twenty years, an entire generation? Or perhaps it is to him that we owe an ideal vision of society, a reflection of the Platonic harmony of the good, beauty, and truth? Or perhaps he is so remembered for his struggles with himself, his own ideas, and his own failures – things that are so familiar to the contemporary man? Or perhaps for his courage to seek substance and meaning in his own life? Following these questions, I searched for cues in sagas, tales, and stories. The secret is hidden in two swords: the Excalibur and the other, nameless sword, stuck in stone. This is where the story begins.

Performance in English with an introduction in Polish

Duration: 70 minutes

Sunday, November 19



Ragnhild A. Mørch (Norway)

Bølgende blå og blåne bak blåne.

My grandaunt’s land and the island in her fiord – that was the paradise of my childhood. Flashes in the sky, light signals appearing in the dark, salty, powerful water. Underground, the Norwegian resistance movement against the occupier is growing.

On March 18, 1944, the doorbell rings; a man opens the door. He will never return.

An evening of stories about blind luck, German art, poetry, and the power of forgiveness.

Duration: 2 hours (with an intermission)

Performance in English with an introduction in Polish

Sunday, November 19



Jarosław Kaczmarek and Stefan Szczepłek

On October 22, 1977, in the 28th minute of a football match against Portugal at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzów, Poland’s Kazimierz Deyna scores a fantastic goal – directly from a corner kick. The “witches’ cauldron” erupts in an euphoric roar which gives way to a terrible hiss as soon as the speaker utters the name of the scorer.

This story is of a legendary footballer, of the thin line separating an adored superhero from a derided clown, of fame and infamy, of love and hate, of promotions and degradations – on the social ladder and in the football league; of a time when absurdities chased each other in mad dribbling beyond all control. A story about a life where football is like a carnival mask; covering, it uncovers, allowing that which is usually hidden to reveal itself.

A story for two voices. On the one hand there is Stefan Szczepłek, someone who “has been there and seen all that,” a sports journalist and commentator, author of My History of Football and a biography of Kazimierz Deyna; on the other, Jarek Kaczmarek, a storyteller for whom football is a fascinating story, author of Best Goals Ever.

The stories will be woven around unique keepsakes from Stefan Szczepłek’s collection: Deyna’s shirt in which he missed a penalty against Argentina, the cork from the champagne bottle that was opened after the victory at Wembley. Will the shoe that burst when Deyna scored against Italy in the World Cup be there as well?

Duration: 90 minutes






17th November, Friday, 17.00-18.30 – Raphael Rodan and Sahand Sahebdivani – open discussion/meeting hosted by Ludwika Włodek in the Institute of Polish Culture, Warsaw University, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28 (translation provided)



17th November, Friday, 11.00-14.00, Open workshop/creative meeting by Raphael Rodan and Sahand Sahebdivani, Duży Pokój workshop space, ul. Warecka 4/6 (translation provided)


13-14-15th November (Monday-Wednesday), 16.00-19.00 – Open workshop by Manya Maratou, Ambasada Muzyki Tradycyjnej (Traditional Music Embassy), ul. Jazdów 3/20 (translation provided).

More details:



Data publikacji: 06-11-2017

Institute of Polish Culture
Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel.+48 22 552 03 24
22 552 26 04

University of Warsaw
ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel. +48 22 552 00 00
NIP 525-001-12-66

Faculty of Polish Studies

Project and realisation: