Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Poles Apart: Off to Poland

At some Godforsaken hour tomorrow morning I'm off to Poland for while.

The trip is the first and most important piece of research for a new piece of theatre I'm making in partnership with Mark Whiteley and Hard Graft Theatre Company (the UK's finest comedy double-act may I add, that has brought you such hits as Thick as Thieves and The Big Adventure and Coast to Coast).

The show is called Poles Apart and in a nutshell promises to be an evening of Polish culture, customs and comedy. The idea came about because the UK is currently going through a bit of an anti-immigration phase and the main recipients of this negative feeling is our extensive Polish community, mainly because they are very large and also because they work bloody hard and bring skilled labour to our shores. They have started to become a whipping boy for all kinds of ignorant, economic migrant fears and because they are white, they are, I would argue, a safe target for the venting spleen of middle England.

So, Mark and I are going to reverse the trend and try to get work in Poland, Warsaw to be precise and our adventure will make up the show Poles Apart. The play will also be a look at the long relationship between British and Polish people, a story of two nations who have fought together, worked together and now live together. It will also touch on the very real plight of people arriving in a foreign land looking for work. Indeed, Mark and I are very nervous at turning up in Poland with badly written letters of introduction and very, very basic Polish and attempting to get work, but our struggles will make for good theatre.

The real aim though is to get our audiences (and we have that already, with extensive bookings through February and March 2009) to re-consider their thoughts and feelings on immigration and perhaps to reflect upon what it feels like to be an immigrant; assess their own personal family roots which, in a bastard isle like Britain, are rich and diverse enough to make it clear we are all the children of immigrants and to treat those we class as being from elsewhere with the respect they deserve.

To be honest, I've spent quite a while doing extensive research that I'm looking forward to gettting my head out of books and into another culture.

Ku przodom wobec Polska! Do widzenia! Na zdrowie!


  1. hey dan, that sounds really good, and really important - and i trust (if the title and image are anything to go by) you will bring to the serious proceedings a touch of your trademark humour.

    the image of yourself and mark is a touch 'brokeback mountain' filtered through east europe ;-P

  2. Daniel, hope you're there already! You should be bloody knighted! I continue to be profoundly impressed by the depth of your intellect and insight--it bloody knows no bounds. And I'm not flattering you here...

    You and Mark might just change the world that small bit. Keep up the bloody good work.

    Break both yer legs!;-))

  3. I'm jealous. I'm half Irish, a quarter Polish and a quarter German.

    It's my understanding, though, that Polish people--particularly the women--are exceptionally good looking. Why do you depict them as retards here?

  4. We have the same problem here with Hispanics. I'm against unmitigated mass immigration (at no point in history has American welcomed more immigrants) as an environmentalist more than a cultural conservative.

    But even I feel for immigrants of all classes and am glad for rising living standards. I felt bad yesterday to see a young, tiny Hispanic man lock his bike to a pole (not a Pole) before going into a restaurant to apply for a kitchen job.

    It sounds like a great project. Even if you're against totally unmitigated mass immigration (favoring some limits), you can still feel empathy for people Sen. John McCain reminds us our "God's children," too.

  5. These days most in theater prefer to be in a play, taking place in a culture that has no name. They sure like fighting for abstract causes, against easy targets like fundamentalist preachers.

  6. A little bit late with this, methinks. If you'd have come up with this a few years back you would have caught the wave. Now we have Polish editions of local newspapres, Polish foodshops and a growing infrastructure to handle this culture. Unfortunately, the Poles aren't stupid and realised that it is shit living here and are all heading back to Poland, taking all the cash they earned with them.

    Like the builders, Polish prostitutes are the best, they really work hard for the cash. I think it is the Socialist work ethic that's been bred into them.

    Good luck!

  7. You never cease to amaze me.

    Isn't Poland the country with all those handsome plumbers?

  8. I hope you have fun, watch out for nuclear reactors

  9. Sounds cool and very positive! Good luck with it! Somer's Town film by Shane Meadows picks elements of Poles working/living in the UK aswell..Good stuff

  10. Rich: thanks mate, hope it proves to be a piece of art that inacts some kind of change in our audience and yes, there'll be plenty of humour. Glad you spotted the 'gay' reference...

    EKB: kind words from a good man, a report is on it's way!

    M@: the ladies are alright but their faces are a bit edgy for my liking; our show will certainly pose some difficult questions regarding immigration.

    RE: this piece will be a defense of immigration and how we treat them.

    Darren: you're always a naysayer aren't you, you miserable bastard? In the world of theatre, that we operate in, their is nothing like this, so we are still at the cutting edge, making an offering on Polish and British history past and present. Don't mistake the few token gestures to polishness in our culture as acceptence; also, many are still coming over, visit Victoria if in doubt.

    Jess: thank you and yes, all the plumbers are handsome...

    Doozie: fun was had, we rocked out!

    Sara: saw Somers Town, great film, touches on it nicely and I knew a little bit of what they were talking about.

  11. What the hell ku przodom is supposed to mean???
    I am Polish and I have no idea!!Can anybody help??? ;)

  12. Hello Pimpus!

    I'm not sure what you mean, I think you're joking but I might need you to explain.

  13. Well, I am not joking, it's just in Polish it's not "ku przodom", but "do przodu".

  14. Okay, sorry about that, as you'd expect my Polish is not very good but I was making an effort to be nice.

  15. It´s ok, I just thought that somebody had misinformed you. And since I very much appreciate the whole idea of your project, I thought it would be good if your Polish was impeccable.I am always asking my British friends to correct my mistakes in English.By the way, when can I see your piece in London?

  16. I'm glad you like the sound of it, I hope you can come and see it, the nearest we get to London is Guildford on the 5th Feb and St.Albans on the 6th Feb. I hope you can make it and if you do, please come and say hello!

  17. Thanks for the invitation, but I´m afraid that I won´t make it neither to one nor to another.Am sorry, really. I will have to wait until you get to London itself. I only hope that you will still be looking for a Polish wife then ;)


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