He is best known for her energetic and assertive role as Anna Surmacz in the series “Klan”, but he has several phenomenal theatrical creations to his credit, including. In “Ławeczka”. Joanna Żółkowska celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of her artwork, which she will celebrate in Ursynów. He tells us about his debut – sexually unbridled Zosia – about whether she likes her character in “The Klan” and what makes her on stage!
Mrs. Joanna, fifty years have passed as one day. when was that?
I’m wondering too! (laughs) I can’t believe it at all! Do you think there is anything we are happy about?
I believe that with such achievements, with such a life, you can!
Well, it wasn’t bad! (Laughter)
How did you enter your profession?
At school, when I had to say something or perform, I was called. I was eager to do it, at the age of 16 I already felt like I fell like a plum in a compote! Something made me go to drama school. There it turned out that I did the right thing – I was accepted and then it was gone. In fact, I couldn’t find any other option! I thought if I failed, I would write – any Polish or similar studies.
I’ll show you your picture. This is you in the role of Zosia in the famous “Dziady” by Konrad Swinarski at the Stary Theater in Krakow – one of your first roles …
Yes, that’s me – 1973.
Above: Joanna Żółkowska as Zosia in “Dziady,” a monastery. Konrad Swinarski, Stary Theater in Krakow
From what critics wrote, this role caused a huge scandal …
without exaggeration! Zosia’s character is treated completely differently than before in “Dziady”. She was always a young lady with a wreath on her head, innocent and homely. On the other hand, she played Zosia, a loose sexualized woman who cannot be in heaven because she has not fulfilled here as a woman and suffers torment. Conrad was the one who thought of it, I just did it.
Did you get that role then?
No no. I don’t think it will be a scandal today. Today it will probably open many doors for me… After the seventies, after all, customs changed in Poland.
What are the dreams of an actor who has been performing on stage for 50 years?
They are so tacky! (laughs) That, so as not to get sick, remember the text, so that everything turns out well.
I can’t believe there is no dream in the bottom of my heart with this one role…
I never had such a dream. I always took on the roles that were offered to me and tried to play them as best I could. It may sound daunting, but a friend of mine, when we talked about dreams coming true or not, after I got back from a late-night show in the car, said, “I had a dream to study geography and become a geography teacher. Fortunately, it didn’t come true!”
Which of the roles stayed with you the longest?
It is said that actors are left with one or two roles, and if people remember them, that’s okay. I think the role of Una in “aweczka” will remain after me. You made a very big impression and I have proof of that! While I was playing it, one day I was filling up gas at a gas station. The man who poured it into me said, “Ma’am, I don’t watch this TV theatre,” but I sat down yesterday, madam, and when I sat down I stayed like that to the end! “.
So when I heard it, I already knew that she would probably stay with me for a long time…
Above: In “Ławeczka” with Janusz Gagos, still from the TV stage, 1988, production. TVP
Don’t you regret being somehow far from the movie? We know you mainly from theatrical and serial roles.
As I get older, I become convinced that nothing happens without a reason. It has always been closely associated with literature and theater, and theater is the word. I always felt better when I had so many words at my disposal, there are so few words in the movie, but so many pictures. Maybe that’s why I haven’t played much in the movies.
I also think it could have been because I was completely inconspicuous – neither too beautiful nor too ugly. In fact, they didn’t know where to throw me. By the time I started, cinema needed other women, the fashion was different. It was Krysia Janda, with her role in Man of Iron, who changed the way directors viewed women in film.
I have no regrets about it, because I think the best thing that ever happened to me – quite seriously – was that I took it. I had no empty years, I walked steadily and steadily all those fifty years, and I was still working. I didn’t have to wait for roles. Hence, there are a huge number of such roles. Someone once asked me to say how many there was, and I was afraid there was so much of it!
“The Secret of Mrs. Belinska and Chopin” – why this play for the fiftieth anniversary? Was it a conscious choice?
When I came up with this idea, I didn’t think it would be for 50 years, it was just a coincidence. “Pani Pylińska…” is a performance that tells us what art is. Why do we need it? These are answers to simple questions. But it is also about the price to pay, the pain to bear, and the strength of character to bear to bear it all. Art is jealous of us, does not forgive mistakes. And we tell us about everything.
Perhaps that is very apt to sum up the first fifty years of that lady. In the play, she plays Mrs. Belinska with principles, but there is another character with principles – the very famous Anna Surmacs in the “Klan”. Are you really like that?
I used to be surprised when people say and think my name is Anna and they went crazy when they saw me because they thought the real Mrs. Surmacks was standing in front of them! I was nervous because I thought: I’m just playing, my name is Joanna Żółkowska!
But then I got to the point where when I looked at myself in the mirror, I said to myself: No, I’m Surmacz, they were right, I’m definitely Anna Surmacz! And if someone strips me of this role now… I can’t imagine it! (Laughter). Along it, there was such a strange shift in my head. This role took me, ate me! Therefore, sometimes I free myself from Surmaczowa, for example to jump towards Mrs. Pylińska.
And the famous word “Absolutely!” , which you repeat in the “Klan” almost nonstop, got into your everyday words, or did you hate them?
no. I don’t use it, but I use it at the same time, because I’m Anna Surmacs. Schizophrenic world can be said! (Laughter)
Are you not sick of this Mrs. Surmach?
No, I can’t get enough of it! I love her, so be it, because I’ve been doing other things all the time and it doesn’t bother me at all. It seems to have given me the sympathy of the audience and I should appreciate that.
In the play “The Secret of Mrs. Belinska and Chopin” you play with your daughter, directed by your partner Robert Glinsky …
this is a gift! I got a gift from them!
How is it created and played with the family?
Very dangerous! (laughs) But we hold on, we grit our teeth, everyone! We try not to talk about work when we get home. It’s not easy, but you can win this fight, I hope.
Why is it worth attending the premiere of “Pani Pylińska and the Secret of Chopin” at UCK “Alternatywa”?
This art is like life. It’s all there – some comedy and some drama. What a good stew. I wanted to raise the subject of art in human life and our subject on the stage.
I would also like to invite everyone so that they can listen to Chopin’s music for some time. It might have been rude to associate Chopin in this way, but I think it’s never enough of him and, frankly, the true hero of this production. You’ll be able to interact with him for a while and with us!
Are you already making plans for the next few years, for the next 50 years?
no! I don’t like plans because they only depend on us to some extent. This is the job…Unfortunately, you are an employee, although sometimes you can provoke something, just as you provoked Mrs. Belinska to appear on the stage this time.
We wish you another year of success and another 50 years, because you are only completing the first 50!
God forbid don’t say it out loud, it will come true! (laughs) No exaggeration! I am retired but I work a lot. Although often, when I go out and see birds, trees and beautiful landscapes, I think to myself: why do I do all this, but just sit and look at the beauty of this world, read some good books!
The question is whether the ZUS pension slip will allow this …
exactly! It is also a very important issue. Maybe that’s why I’m still sticking with the scene! (Laughter)
Thank you for the conversation.
She will play Joanna Żółkowska at the premiere of “Pani Pylińska and Chopin’s Secret”, which is set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of her artwork. Next to her will perform: Kacper Kuszewski and Paulina Holtz. Scene, dir. Robert Glinsky will premiere on Tuesday 10 May at 19 o’clock at the Theater “Alternative” Ursynów Cultural Center at ul. Gandhi 9. There are also latest tickets available at the University of California front desk or online at biletyna.pl.