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Poland – Part 8: A Boat Ride, Eating, Videos, AJAX, and More Eating

June 21, 10:00AM (Father’s Day)

After I woke up, had breakfast, and cleaned up, Tamara offered us the opportunity to go on a boat ride down the section of the Odra River that runs through Wroclaw.  I was interested in going, so I watched some European music videos while I waited for the others to get set.

It was going to be Yev, Jiv, Chantelle, Ryan, Tamara, Peter, Alexi, Sonia, Una, and myself on that boat.

A few minutes later,  and we were underway.


It was an absolutely gorgeous day – sunny, warm, and beautiful.  Perfect for boating around Wroclaw.


We chugged down the Odra, and then turned around.  It was very pleasant.

We also took the opportunity to ask Tamara about the racial/cultural tension that we thought we had picked up on the night before.  She told us that she thought it had much to do with the racial monolithicism of Poland.  Not sure if I mentioned this before, but Peter Brook said that the Polish audience was the most racially monolithic crowd he’d ever seen.

The boat trip finished.  We docked, and the group conversation eventually sizzled out until it was just Tamara and I talking, as we all walked down the streets of Wroclaw.  I mentioned how I have never really had the business-end of racism in my face before, and have never had the experience of being the “other”.  Tamara responded by telling me that I was very lucky to have grown up in Canada.  I agreed with her.

Deciding that we were all hungry, the group split off into smaller groups to find something to eat.  The group I was in eventually settled down at a very nice crepe place.  I got a crepe with chicken, cheese, spinach and corn.  Totally hit the spot!


After eating, we had the rest of the afternoon to do whatever we pleased.  As had become custom, we spent our time hopping from restaurant to restaurant, sampling this and that, and watching the locals.  Una, Sonia, Chantelle, and I eventually found ourselves at “Pomazanka”, which our guidebook promised would provide the “widest selection on ice cream, cakes and pastries on the Rynek.”

Sonia had apple cake.  Chantelle had chocolate cake.  Una had marzipan cake. I went for strawberry gelato, and we all decided that our choices were very good.



Had an interesting conversation with Sonia about the gay culture in Poland.  When asked for her impressions, she told me that from what she saw, since Poland is highly religious, it stands to reason that the gay culture is probably carefully hidden from plain sight.  I told her that I agreed with her – at least for Wroclaw.  Warsaw seemed a bit more relaxed.

There’s a lapse in my journaling for a few hours here…from memory, I know I eventually went back to the hostel and phoned my Dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day.

My journal picks up again here:


At this point, I was in the middle of watching one of the optional films for that day – MADAME DE SADE directed by KRZYSZTOF WARLIKOWSKI (yep – the same fellow who directed CLEANSED).  Yikes.  Granted – this was a videotape of a theatre piece, so it was weakened right off the bat.  Anyhow, the camera was too far away, so the audience never got to see the actor’s faces, and the sound was just awful. If theatre is a medium for communication, this video fell way short.  I fell asleep.  Instantly forgotten.


It was a double feature for videos that day – the next video was a version of MEDEA by ANATOLIJ WASILJEW.  It was a one-woman piece…the video was from a presentation that looked like it happened in an art museum.

How to describe this piece?

Two words:  Enraged, and Naked.  Props to the woman for the effort and the work she was putting in.  She was clearly committed, and working hard.  However, watching a naked woman yell at me from a chair for an hour is not how I like to spend my time.  I just wanted it to stop.  If it wasn’t so loud, I’m sure I would have fallen asleep there too.

Video recordings of theatre pieces always fall flat for me – even if they’ve been edited well, and recorded with video in mind.  There really are some things that only live theatre can do.

Why didn’t I leave?  True – there was nothing keeping me in the theatre.  However, I hate leaving bad shows halfway through – I always have this little bit of hope that maybe they’ll save themselves towards the end.  Still, I’m usually let down.

Anyhow, we shook off the two videos, and walked back to the hostel to pick up our tickets for that nights live show:  AJAX, THE MADNESS by THEODOROS TERZOPOULOS.


Here are some dark and blurry photos of the whole gang getting ready to see AJAX:


AJAX was a heavily ritualized Greek performance/meditation on the Ajax myth.  The show promised murder, guilt, madness, and war satire.

Like I said: heavily ritualized performance/meditation.  It was like a 20 minute mantra that was repeated 3 times.  There were 3 actors, each taking turns leading the mantra, and each putting their own spin on it.

The first guy was my favourite.  Total commitment the entire way.  The mantra involved lots of repeated physical actions, and this guy put his whole body into it.  I knew he was working hard.  How did I know?  Because he was sweating buckets.  And he never swallowed – saliva just gushed out of his mouth for his entire 20 minutes.  The man must have lost 2 litres of body fluid over the course of the show.  It was unbelievable.  I was blown away by the energy and commitment of that guy.

It went downhill for me from there.  The second guy had this highly reflective knife that he kept shining into the audience, and it was really annoying.  By the time the third guy went up, I think I had the mantra under my belt.  It was nice to see the little differences that each iteration had on the last, but it didn’t really grab me.

And the war satire was kind of weak – at least for me.  It almost seemed tagged on, like an afterthought – jetfighter fly-over soundcues, and this image of a processional of coffins.  I think I heard a Roger Waters tune tucked in there too.

Anyhow, it was OK.  Not great, not terrible.  It was awkward for the curtain call though.  The audience gave the cast some real good applause, and they were bowing, and that was fine.  But then they wouldn’t leave.  And because they wouldn’t leave the stage, the audience felt compelled to clap more.  So they stayed.  And then the director came out, and we clapped for him too.  And I could feel the applause dying down, but then they’d come up to centre stage and bow again, and people would keep clapping in an attempt to avoid awkwardness.  It was almost like they were drawing applause out of us, as opposed to letting us give it to them.

Somehow, the vicious cycle eventually ended.  We left.

Saw some interesting sculptures on the street on the way out:


Not sure what time it was, but from the photos, it looked like it was starting to get dark out.

On our way home, some of us decided to get some midnight snacks at the grocery store.  I got some orange juice (a respectable kind, with an expiry date that I felt good about), and some waffle cracker things.  Our shopping finished, we walked back to the hotel to eat what we bought.

While eating, we watched David After the Dentist:

and some more Dave’s Farm.

Then, because we weren’t tired yet, we went to Wizard Hat for an hour or so, and then went back to the grocery store for more midnight snacks.  I got orange filling Jaffa Cakes, and shared them with Sonia.

Finally, we went back to the hostel for the last time that night.  We chatted for a while in the common room, and then I had a shower and went to bed.

Click here to go to Part 9:  The Halfway Point

Click here to go back to Part 7:  An Official Tour of Wroclaw