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Kumernis, Or How Holy Lady Grew a Beard

14 December 2016
14 December 2016
  ICE Kraków — Sala Teatralna

Directed by:

Agata Duda-Gracz


Agata Duda-Gracz, Michał Pabian


140 min.


40/65 PLN

Agata Duda-Gracz’s play, staged at the Musical Theatre in Gdynia, is inspired by a legend, dismissed by the Catholic Church, about Holy Kumernis, also known as Vilgefortis, who wants to devote her life completely to God, while her father, the king, wants her to marry his friend. To rescue herself from this predicament, the young woman locks herself up in a tower and prays to God to save her by making her uglier. One day she is said to grow a beard. This uncanny tale, or rather some of its motifs, are adapted by the director to the harsh environment of a Polish village where men rule over women’s bodies and suppress their will. Rape, violence and aggression are common here. As it turns out, Kumernis, played by Magdalena Kumorek, can only perhaps be saved by a great love for a man named Ciril (Cezary Łukasiewicz). This melodramatic story of great passion, bringing to mind the foreboding feelings of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, is juxtaposed with a brutal world, where there’s no place for feeling, sentiment or insubordination, and femininity is disciplined by fathers and husbands who believe they’re upholding the traditional social order.

Duda-Gracz’s monumental spectacle initially leads the audience astray, filled with musical numbers performed exclusively with human voices, with an impressive, tri-level set design and a giant icon as its focal point providing the background for all of the action. She offers up a series of grotesque scenes, with a carnival atmosphere. But then she drastically shifts the tone of the piece to reveal the oppression that victimises women, while harshly critiquing the toxic patriarchal system that imprisons not only the characters of the play. 



Directed by/scenography, costumes and screenplay by Agata Duda-Gracz

Music by Łukasz Wójcik

Stage movement by Tomasz Wesołowski

Lighting design by Katarzyna Łuszczyk

Dramaturgical consultation: Michał Pabian

Assistant Directors: Agata Schweiger, Dagmara Olewińska, Weronika Kuśmider

Assistant Set Designer: Konrad Laprus

Stage Manager: Krzysztof Przyłuski


Dorota Kowalewska, Katarzyna Kurdej, Aleksy Perski, Katarzyna Wojasińska, Renia Gosławska, Magdalena Kumorek, Rafał Ostrowski, Cezary Łukasiewicz, Jerzy Michalski, Marcin Słabowski, Mateusz Deskiewicz, Marta Kwiatkowska, Jan Napieralski, Wojciech Daniel, Krzysztof Suszek