Curriculum vitae – Juliusz Osterwa

"On the ship" Batory >> there was a commotion in Gdynia, when someone came running with the news, that Juliusz Osterwa is on board. It was in the early spring of 1939…”This is how Gustaw Morcinek begins his" Memoirs "about a man, who came into this world in a year 1885, and he departed from it after 62 years of life. Tygodnik Powszechny informing about this departure, he wrote :

"May 10 1947 r. One of the greatest people of Polish theater, Juliusz Osterwa, died after a serious illness. In person, Polish culture suffers an extremely heavy loss. He was one of those, who have shaped the expression of this culture over the last few decades ; for a theatrical play, to which he devoted all his strength, brought new and creative values… He was a great actor and theater organizer, and especially a great educator. Generations of theater people came from his hand. And he raised not only the theater, he also raised society. The funeral of a great artist, which took place in Krakow 14 May 1947 r., became a great manifestation of faith in these ideas, served by Juliusz Osterwa " ("Tygodnik Powszechny", 1947 r. no 21). Juliusz Osterwa has performed in the theaters of Krakow, Poznan, Vilnius, Warsaw. During the First World War, evacuated to Russia, he directed at the Polish theater in Moscow and Kiev. After World War I, together with Mieczysław Limanowski, he founded his own theater group called "Reduta". He led this team for many years.

He also created a traveling theater with "Reduta", to reach these towns too, in which people have not seen stage performances, because it was far to the theater. The teams of "Reduta" set off even to the most distant places, to put on shows there. It was often the first contact of the province with the theater. In just one year 1927 displayed in the field 61 times of the "Constant Prince" - Juliusz Słowacki, w 60 localities. The performances of "Reduta" had a huge impact on people. This is how Osterwa allowed people to rise to a higher level of culture.

Except that, that he worked in the "Reduta" team, Osterwa was also the director of the Variety Theater and the National Theater in Warsaw, and the City Theaters in Krakow. After the Second World War, he was appointed rector of the State Higher Theater School (PWST) in Cracow.

Osterwa appreciated Polish theater literature the most. He wanted to show Polish viewers Polish plays. Żeromski wrote a play especially for him : "My quail ran away", in which Juliusz created an excellent performance by Przełęcki. Osterwa was very friendly with Riptide, whose dramas he staged, and most of all with Szaniawski, who was very closely associated with "Reduta".

During the occupation, he taught diction at the seminary in Kraków and Częstochowa. He passed on to future priests his knowledge of the art of reaching people through words. They were very grateful to him for that, and he was happy, that at least in this way it can serve people. These lessons were completely selfless. Although he was in need himself, he did not want to accept anything for his efforts in educating clerics.

The final role, played by Osterwa, was Fantazy in Juliusz Słowacki's play under the same title. The premiere of this play took place in Krakow in 1946 year. This already ailing man - he had stomach cancer - amazed the audience. Nobody guessed, that an outstanding actor is so seriously ill. After scenes played with indescribable grace, lightness and verve, going backstage, he staggered helplessly, supported on the shoulders of colleagues. Barely gasping for breath, he disappeared into the dressing room, where the doctor, with an injection, alleviated his suffering and strengthened the increasingly weakening body.

Osterwa exerted a great influence on his colleagues - associates with his personality. His religious life was imprinted on it by this indelible mark. A living and deep faith pervaded his life and activity. Personal religious experiences found expression in his creative work and they did, that as an actor he not only showed viewers the depth of human spiritual experiences, but he brought them closer and closer to God. Through his artistic maturity and personal religious life, he was a witness of Jesus Christ. From faith, Osterwa showed great respect for supernatural values, which he greatly appreciated. This is evidenced by the letter, which he wrote to the then rector of the Krakow Theological Seminary on the occasion of his name day. Grateful for remembering about himself, that the prayers of the clerics are so precious to him, that he cannot imagine "more precious, nicer, a more joyful and useful gift ". There, who knew him, they provide, that there was no exaggeration in these words.

Religious values, which he himself appreciated so much, he also wanted to communicate to his associates about ,.Reduce ". He tried to introduce the so-called. ,,moments of silence ", that is, considerations. They were to prepare the actors internally before entering the stage, and make their game in service not only to man, but through man to God. He did it himself and demanded it from his associates. He was not discouraged by this, that some people didn't like it very much. Those from "Reduta" left. Others, however, who could see Juliusz Osterwa's thought and his devotion to the service of his neighbor, they themselves were ready for various austerities, e.g.. they gave up their salaries, did not post their names on posters. Julius even wanted to, to live together, completely devoting himself to art. So he was going to create something like an order. It was supposed to be the order of St.. Genesius. Genesius is an actor in Roman times, who was martyred for Christ. The work of the artist-actor was supposed to be a service to God and people through art in a community conceived in this way. However, he did not manage to achieve his intentions.

Osterwa understood his theater work as a service to God and people, whom he wished to bring closer to him through performances. He was careful, that the actors were given a special mission from God for this.

Sam, so that he can influence others, he drew strength from God. While focusing on the retreat, he thought about it, what God called him to. It was not a retreat like this, as they are in parishes during Lent. Osterwa liked to make a closed retreat. He went to the Dominican Fathers in Krakow or to the Benedictine Fathers in Tyniec near Krakow and there he remained for several days for prayer in concentration and silence. At the time, when he was away from people and their affairs, by meditating on God and His matters, he entered into a closer relationship with Christ, then, on the stage and in life, to present Him to people. And how he did it ?

He wanted to do this, inter alia, by emphasizing religious thoughts and moral values ​​in the works played and directed by himself. Once upon a time he explained this to Ludwik Hieronim Morstin, why he didn't take on the role of Hamlet : "I can't play Hamlet, because I cannot sympathize with all his actions ". There, who knew Osterwa and met him personally, and those, who worked with him, everyone stresses, that he was very understanding towards others and never held a grudge against him. And this probably speaks volumes about the nobility of his character.

A close friend of Juliusz Osterwa, Tadeusz Białkowski, he placed on his coffin during the funeral, standing over the grave, sign "Redoubt" and said only one sentence : "Mr. Juliusz, we are silent - you understand us ". Nobody spoke after Białkowski anymore. The deceased Osterwa spoke in silence and concentration to all those present at the funeral. He spoke with his life, which was a service to God and people every day, and especially on the stage of theaters. And does Osterwa also appeal to each of us today? ? Does not teach us, how we are to serve God by serving our fellowmen ?

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