The "Grodzka Gate ? NN Theatre? Centre
The Centre is a municipal cultural institution engaged in fostering an awareness of Lublin's rich multicultural history and at developing a deeper sense of local identity and tolerance for other cultures. In its activities the Centre refers to the symbolic and historical significance of its residence - the Grodzka Gate - which was once a passage from the Christian to the Jewish part of the city, as well as to the locality of Lublin as a place where various cultures, traditions and religions once met. The Centre employs 30 people on regular basis and cooperate with 30 people employed temporarily.
20-112 Lublin, Grodzka 21
tel. +48 81 532-58-67, fax. 534-61-10
The range of activity on examples
NN Theatre was founded in 1990. Initially its activities focused on theatrical performances, but gradually its creators realised the historical significance of its location and the richness of Lublin's past. They started to open up to other types of activities such as social, cultural and educational initiatives. The Centre restored its residence - the 14th century Grodzka Gate and the adjoining houses, bringing back to life an important part of Lublin's neglected Old Town. One of the most important programmes run at that time was called "Encounters of Cultures", where artists from Western and East Central Europe performed and presented their work. Since then the activities of the Centre have been focused on reviving the memory of Lublin's Jewish section. The Centre achieves this aim through artistic activities, exhibitions, interactive meetings, promotion of books and magazines, film screenings, concerts, and outdoor events. In 1998 the Centre launched a website with information about its activities. The Centre also publishes books and the journal "Scriptores". Since 1998 "Grodzka Gate - NN Theatre" Centre has been running its programme "The Great Book of the Town". Within this framework archival materials connected with the history of Polish-Jewish Lublin, such as photographs, oral testimonies and documents are collected. Some of these materials have been assembled into a documentary exhibition of two-cultural Lublin.
In the years 1990-1996 five premieres of the NN Theatre took place: "Heavenly Wanderings", "Earthly Foods", "Invocation", "Too Loud a Solitude" and "Moby Dick". In its performances the NN Theatre has created an original theatrical language which is close to a dream poetics. Working on documentary mate-rials (photographs, maps, oral testimonies) has become an inspiration for undertaking artistic activities of other kinds. Among others, those included documentary exhibitions forming a specific Theatre of Memory. Exceptional significance is given to "Memory Mysteries" - artistic activities taking place in the city's spaces, connected with their symbolic meaning directed at restoring their lost past. The Mysteries which have been realised so far include: "One World - Two Temples", "Day of Five Prayers" (in Majdanek), "Mystery of Szeroka Street", "Mystery of the Bell" and "Mystery of Light and Darkness". Altogether several thousand people took part in those events. Another symbolic activity undertaken by the Centre on the anniversary of the liquidation of the Lublin ghetto is sending letters addressed to former citizens of the non-existent Jewish town. It is an attempt to "touch" the vast emptiness which came into being after the extermination of the Jews of Lublin. In 2001 the NN Theatre started preparing a new series of theatrical performances inspired by Jewish folklore and Hassidic stories.
From the very beginning, cultural education has played an important part in Theatre NN's programmes. Projects connected with media education have become increasingly important. Their aim was to teach how to use modern media consciously and critically, how to reach the sources of information and how to prepare oneself for the challenges accompanying life in the global village. Within the framework of that programme, among others, a series "Encounters with Documentaries" was organised. It consisted in screenings of documentary films and presentations of radio broadcasts as well as in holding meetings with their authors. Since 1999 the Centre has been organising classes for students in the realm of multicultural education as well as workshops for teachers and cultural leaders. The basis of these initiatives is a documentary exhibition of the Centre's materials called "A Portrait of the Place". The exhibition has been visited by young people from around the world including Germany and Israel. In 2001 in co-operation with the Carnegie Council (New York) and Jagiellonian University (Cracow) the Centre organised an international conference "Education for Recon-ciliation". In the same year the Centre held a seminar called "Cultural Heritage of Jews in the Lublin Region" in co-operation with the Centre for Jewish Studies at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University and Project Guggenheim. The seminar was attended by a considerable number of teachers from Lublin and the surrounding region whom the Centre co-operates with. In 2002 the Centre initiated a new programme addressed to the whole Lublin region: "The Forgotten Past - Multicultural Traditions of the Lublin Region". One of the aims of this programme is designing an internet educational web site which will contain information about the multireligious and multiethnic history of the region.
THE GREAT BOOK OF THE TOWN
Within the framework of a programme called "The Great Book of the Town", ongoing since 1997, an archive of documentary materials such as photo-graphs, oral testimonies (interviews with pre-war citizens), literary texts, documents showing everyday life of pre-war Lublin, is being created. The collected materials serve as a basis for artistic and educational activities. Among others, two documentary exhibitions serving as the interior arrangement of the Centre have been organised. The artistic form of those exhibitions has developed from the experience of the theatre and is strongly rooted in the theatrical imagination and expression. An important part of the exhibition is the scale model of the pre-war Old Town District constructed to the ratio of 1:250, encompassing the non-existent Jewish town. The model emphasises the scope of des-truction caused by World War II. The collected documentation allowed us to reconstruct the old structure of the town's centre, to recreate non-existent streets or squares, and to give viewers an idea of the character of the buildings. All possible information about some buildings in the area of the prewar Old Town District is being collected. This aims at capturing the history of specific houses through documentation (archival materials) as well as through the history of the people who once lived there.
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