Teatr 21, photo Grzegorz Press

Teatr 21



The culmination of three weeks of mourning, Tisha B’Av (the ninth of Av) is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar. It commemorates the destruction of the First and Second temples in Jerusalem. On this day Jews are required to refrain from eating meat and drinking. As in other periods of mourning, devotees are only allowed to sit on the floor or a low stool until midday. At the synagogue, lamentations and are read and mourning hymns are sung, lamenting the destruction of the Temples and the suffering of the Jewish people.

Inspired by this celebration, Teatr 21’s performance invokes the memory of the Nazi Aktion T4 programme staged to ‘extinguish lives not worth living’. The piece brings together the personal experiences of the actors, the history of the 20th century and Tisha B’Av. The mourning over the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple raises many questions that are relevant today. A group of players dressed in summer workout outfits that would not look out of place in a physical education lesson play popular street games. The names of the games include derogatory terms: głupi Jaś (which means ‘stupid Johnny’, the English equivalent is ‘monkey in the middle’), szczur (rat; ‘helicopter’ in English), szmaciarz (ragpicker) and czarny lud (bogyman coon). The games involve actions such as hitting, ‘killing’, patting and finger pointing. The weakest players are ridiculed, punished or eliminated.

  • Teatr 21
  • Concept ― Jakub Drzewiecki, Agata Skwarczyńska, Justyna Sobczyk
  • Players ― Grzegorz Brandt, Jakub Drzewiecki, Teresa Foks, Maja Kowalczyk, Barbara Lityńska, Anna Łuczak, Michał Pęszyński, Justyna Sobczyk, Aleksandra Skotarek, Marta Stańczyk, Magdalena Świątkowska/Justyna Wielgus
  • Movement ― Justyna Wielgus
  • Recordings ― Paweł Andryszczyk
  • Images ― Radosław Staniec
  • Film creators ― Wojtek Kaniewski, Patrz Pan Panda, Tomasz Michalczewski
  • Production ― Małgorzata Owczarska, Marceli Sulecki
  • Partners ― POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Boeing, Win-Win Foundation
  • POLIN Museum co-ordinator ― Ewa Chomicka
  • Premiere ― 13 July 2015

The performance was created in collaboration with POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

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Agata Skwarczyńska is a set designer, costume designer and lighting engineer. She has been associated with Teatr 21 since 2007. From 2010 to 2011, she curated the Polish exhibition at the Prague Quadrennial. In 2015, her set design for Queen Margot: Some Day the War Will End (Teatr Polski, Bielsko-Biała) earned her the Golden Mask. Agata Skwarczyńska has worked with Paweł Wodziński, Wojciech Faruga, Remigiusz Brzyk, Łukasz Chotkowski, Bartosz Frąckowiak, Iga Gańczarczyk, Agnieszka Olsten, Justyna Sobczyk, Nils Torpus and Paweł Szkotak. She argues that ‘the stage is not a place which should be decorated, but through spatial interventions it should be invested with a meaning which the audience can develop using their own imaginations’.


Jakub Drzewiecki comes from Ostrzeszów in the south of Greater Poland. He studied culture studies at the University of Warsaw before moving on to work at the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute in Warsaw. Drzewiecki currently works at TR Warszawa. He has been associated with Teatr 21 since 2013.

  • The last game played is dodgeball. There are two teams and one ball – the object of the game is to hit a player on the opposite team. The thing is the words ‘you’re out’ […] have nothing playful about them. Being out is irrevocable and final: the player who has been hit is taken out of the room. A frivolous game at stigmatising turns imperceptibly into extermination. This show is about violence, the large-scale, totalitarian one, but, above all, about violence that remains hidden, experienced on a daily basis, which seems to be an innocent child’s play – minor abuse that involves insults, stigmatisation. Jew, mongo, poof – the mechanics of violence is always the same […] and Teatr 21 ruthlessly expose it.

    Piotr Morawski |

  • […] with no uncalled-for sentimentality […]. The message is simple and hard, as hard as the daily lives of the actors of T21 who do not face sympathetic audiences but indifference (at best) and often the gratuitous cruelty of the fellow human beings who cannot bear their otherness.

    Edwin Bendyk |

  • Teatr 21 do not deal in reciting rhymes […] nor do they stage Greek tragedy or Shakespearean drama. […] Instead, the troupe embodies a desire of a group of adults who are, in a way, mature enough to mark their presence in the world through their art and love for theatre.

    Anna Franczak |


Date and hour

22 October
23 October


Running time

60 minutes