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O szewczyku i o fałszywym królu/The Little Shoemaker and the False King (Tadeusz Wielecki, Tadeusz Wierzbicki)

Tadeusz Wierzbicki’s extraordinary theatre of “glints” – subtle mirror reflections – full of silence (although Tadeusz makes the occasional comment on what happens on the screen) has always seemed an attractive material to set to sound. But how should this theatre sound like? Theatre set to music equals opera. Well... It was only when I realised that the music for Tadeusz’s one-man magical theatre should also be a “one-person” project that I decided it could actually become an opera. A small-scale chamber opera, an “operula” perhaps. In our piece, the musical-textual layer is presented by Maria Wieczorek, who – uniquely – combines two professions: that of violinist and actress.

The shoemaker’s story is of folk origin. For instance, the motif of the false king was documented by ethnologist Oskar Kolberg in his monumental work The People, found in the Pokucie chapter.

Tadeusz Wielecki


The tale of the little shoemaker has fascinated me for years. I wanted to get back to the original tale and reconstruct it. Playing it with a candle’s flame reflected on small mirrors, I told it, and it kept coming to life and changing on that tale of mine. I then wrote it down, but it kept changing in subsequent versions, losing nothing of its oral literature character. It was accompanied by lights animated with mirrors; simple as if sculpted in stone. Actually, it was not animated but subjected to continuous visual and consequently, semantic changes. The little protagonist enters the world of letters. He becomes the ruler of that world when he learns it, and learns how to decipher and create meaning. He will recognise what is true and what only looks like the truth.

This work is also a study of reflected lights’ theatre, an attempt at establishing a convention and the instruments that go with it. All this started as a childhood fascination when I found a dusty mirror in a dark attic under a thatched roof. The sun filtering into the attic through a small window would reflect on my fingertips left on the dust, and shine on the thatched roof and the whitened chimney.

Tadeusz Wierzbicki