Tickets for this week’s shows on 30 September and 1-2 October can be purchased from Info Kraków on Św. Jana 2 and Plac Wszystkich Świętych 2, or online.
The theatre is the natural haunt for an actor—whether on the stage or in the audience— but what happens when you move to a foreign country and there’s nothing in your language? For Brit Don Allen, the answer was to set up his own.
Live, English-language entertainment in Poland exists, but it’s largely confined to the capital, Warsaw, and even there it is limited. In Krakow, some theatres and comedy troupes put on successful English shows, but Poland’s cultural capital has never had its own completely English theatre company.
Don Allen, 42, trained in Coventry, England, and began his career as an actor. He recently moved into directing and producing, and already has three movies under his belt, including the comedy drama Three Minute Moments, about speed dating. He had been visiting Poland for almost ten years before making the decision to move to Krakow permanently in the autumn of 2014, to be closer to his seven-year-old son.
Clearly, being in the family business is working out well for him— he didn’t even try to hide his pride in the youngster when Inside-Poland met him for coffee at the famous Nowa Prowincja café.
But something was lacking. A man born for performance, Don felt a keen lack of theatre in the city— or at least, of theatre in English. So, in true Polish style, he set up his own.
The Krakow King’s Players has already had one run at the city’s Śródmiejski Ośrodek Kultury, and they will be back for more later this week.
Don said the venue was the perfect location for the project— intimate but not small, and right in the heart of the city centre.
Everything seems to have moved very quickly for the King’s Players. With Polish and English writers and performers, they already have their own original repertoire. The performance this week, on September 30 and October 1 and 2 will each include four plays, two youth shorts and two longer scripts.
But quick isn’t the same as easy. As artistic director, Don (pictured above) runs the show with manager Małgorzata Janigacz, yet he is also ready to muck in with everything that the King’s Players does— and will perform himself this week after being called upon as a last-minute understudy.
“One of the actors has an injury,” he said, “so I am going to take over his role. I am rehearsing right now”.
The implication is that it’s all work, work, work for the put upon impresario… but there’s definitely something in Don’s tone that suggests he relishes the thought of standing on a stage for an audience.
The King’s Players, he said, is ‘entertainment for entertainment’s sake’— although he insists that everything the company puts on must be ‘good enough’— meaning that , while they are not aiming for high brow, the King’s Players nevertheless intend to give their audiences something to think about.
And, he added, it’s also about fitting in in Poland.
“I want to be part of the community”, he said.”It’s also about trying to make a focus point for English speaking people, whether they are foreigners or Polish. I think there is a definite understanding and appreciation of English comedy and theatre in Poland, and I think that people have a desire to know more about it”.
Having done the legwork and got the King’s Players up and running, Don now has an eye on the future. The immediate job is to get audiences in to this week’s shows— but he says that in the coming year he wants to have toured with the company outside Krakow too.
And he issued an open invitation to actors and writers— aspiring or veteran, Polish or otherwise— who want to get involved. To find out more, visit the King’s Players Krakow Facebook page. Tickets for this week’s shows are available from Info Kraków and Św. Jana 2 and Plac Wszystkich Świętych 2, or online.