Thaddeus Strassberger’s Trip to Poland

In September 2015 Thaddeus Strassberger, Stage Director & Designer of the opera The Passenger, went to Poland at the invitation of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. He visited Warsaw, Krakow, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site and POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Krakow and met with Paweł Potoroczyn, Aleksander Laskowski and expert Dombkowska from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

Thaddeus Strassberger: ‘I’m facing the task to stage an opera which will tell about one of the most horrible crimes in the history of mankind. I think that opera as an art form is best suited to that because it is always up-to-date.

In Auschwitz I was startled by the silence and the feeling of being alone. Scents and texture of surfaces indoors were somehow different from the others.Time seemed to have stopped and there was a feeling that people had disappeared from there a minute before…’

In Krakow Strassberger met and had a talk with Zofia Posmysz.
‘After talking to her, I feel more freedom in realizing my ideas,’ Strassberger says. ‘The sketches she made aren’t finished images, they plead to us to become flesh, real and live people through acting.
The tragedy of Auschwitz is not in the enormous masses of those perished but in the numbers of individuals.

The trip to Poland has influenced my understanding of what should go on stage and has given me a sort of emotional prism to filter this information. I met with kind and open-hearted people who have given me a lot of new and important facts about persons, books and photographs. Now I must treat the information with respect and give it a possibility to live, breathe and change until I have shaped it into a physical form of production.’