Internationally renowned as one of the leading artists of our age, Polish director KRYSTIAN LUPA (b. 1943) works on a vast theatrical canvas. Before turning his attention to theater, Lupa pursued physics at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, but soon abandoned that course of study and passed the entrance exams for Krakow's Academy of Fine Arts, from which he graduated in 1969 with a degree in graphic design. He also studied directing at the Lodz Film School for two years and in 1973 was accepted into the theater directing program at the State Higher School of Theatre in Krakow where he had a chance to become assistant to the famous Konrad Swinarski. He was also fascinated by the work of Tadeusz Kantor and his view of the function of the actor. On the other hand, Carl Gustav Jung proved to be Lupa's most influential philosopher and thinker: "He is a master of the path - not only of truth - but a master of the path to the truth." (Krystian Lupa for Notatnik Teatralny (Theatre Notebook), 1993).
Lupa made his professional theater debut in 1976 with a production of Slawomir Mrozek's Slaughterhouse at the Juliusz Slowacki Theatre in Krakow. His recent productions include Dostoyevsky's The Brothers Karamazov; Gorky's The Lower Depths; Unfinished Piece for an Actor, which combines Chekhov's The Seagull with Yazmina Reza's The Spanish Play; and Factory Two, written, and directed by Lupa about the life and work of Andy Warhol.
He has worked in theaters all over Poland as well as in Germany, Greece and Austria. In 2006 he staged Three Sisters by Chekhov at the American Repertory Theatre in Boston, a production supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.
He is currently resident director at the Narodowy Stary Teatr in Krakow but has enjoyed a relationship with this national stage since 1980 and created some of his most exceptional productions there, including The Return of Odysseus by Stanislaw Wyspianski (1981), a play to which he would return in 1999, staging it once more at the Dramatyczny Theatre in Warsaw.
Lupa took on Austrian literature for the first time while at this Krakow theater. Since 1985 he has directed plays based on the works of Alfred Kubin, Robert Musil and Rainer Maria Rilke, Hermann Broch, Werner Schwab and Thomas Bernhard, whose novel Das Kalkwerk he adapted for the stage in 1992. Lupa has also brought works of Russian literature to the stage by adapting the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Anton Chekhov, as well as Mikhail Bulgakov's and Maxim Gorky's novels.
Lupa also teaches directing at the Ludwik Solski State Drama School in Krakow. His published writings on the theater include Utopia and Its Inhabitants, along with Labyrinth and Spying, two volumes of his diaries. Lupa's productions have been invited to the most significant theater festivals of Europe. His productions are remarkable for their psychological complexity, stylistic innovation, and humanity. He is a master at creating internally coherent stage realities and often translates and adapts the texts which he stages, simultaneously designing and directing these productions. In some, he himself appears on stage as the narrator. He is capable of achieving unusual unity of expression and creating concepts marked by immense clarity and precision.
He has been honored with every major Polish theater award, as well as the Austrian Cross of Merit and the French Order of the Fine Arts and Humanities. In 2008 he received the European Theatre Award for his career achievement. Previous ETA winners include Harold Pinter, Robert Wilson and Pina Bausch.
Lupa's state of mind is a European one. His plays reflect the exhaustion of the Old Continent and all of its descents into decadence. Being a Pole, a German or an Austrian has no meaning in and of itself. What is important is the spiritual context in which we act and live, rather than any national, historical or political context. (...) European spirituality of the twentieth century is the most essential dimension of activity, the site of real struggle and conflict, a realm of strong tensions. - Piotr Gruszczynski, Notatnik Teatralny