In one of his final engagements before standing down as prime minister, and taking up the post of president of the European Council, Donald Tusk attends the opening of Gdansk's Shakespeare Theatre: photo - PAP
The building is the first entirely newly built theatre in Poland for decades and its conception goes back as far as 1991.
During a speech at the opening ceremony, Donald Tusk, a native of the city, commented that, “Gdansk deserves the most beautiful and most modern theatre in Europe and we are in it today.”
Tusk, going against theatre etiquette, however, mentioned the play ‘Macbeth’ by name while on stage - it is usually referred to simply as the 'Scottish play' - which, according to superstition brings bad luck.
The ceremony was later interrupted when the Government Protection Bureau found a black suitcase without an owner and decided to evacuate the entire building.
It eventually transpired that the suitcase belonged to one of the translators working at the opening of the theatre.
On the outside the theatre is made of black brick and has no visible windows, prompting people to describe its exterior appearance as a closed fortress.
The appearance of the building is completely different from the inside, as bright colours such as white and beige dominate.
The theatre can seat up to 600 people depending on the stage’s layout.
It is also the first theatre in Poland to have a retractable roof, allowing plays to be enjoyed in natural light as in Elizabethan times. Also unlike other theatres in Poland it will not have a permanent troupe of actors but will instead draw performances from around the world.
The inaugural week is a ‘British week,’ which will begin with a performance of “Hamlet” from London’s renowned Shakespeare’s Globe.
The city of Gdansk has a long tradition of performing English plays due to its historic role as a trading city on the Baltic sea, as well as a substantial English community living there in the 17th century. The first English actors to arrive in Gdansk came in 1601, and subsequently many English plays including Shakespeare’s were performed at the Fencing School.
The building cost 100 million zlotys (25 million Euros) to complete, of which half came from EU funding. (sl/pg)
(Source: IAR, PAP)