Should abusers be “eliminated for life”?

“In this institution, everything is tied together by a very strange thread, everyone gives everyone a job in some way, and it depends on someone. For example, I can be a dean and hire you as a lecturer, because you are my director in a theater” – Zosanna Litt admitted in Carolina Book Corwin Piotrovska under the powerful title “Everybody Knows”.

Unfortunately, the use of the present tense is very important in the discussion of violence in artistic circles. Everyone knows. They know that a famous principal used violence against students, which resulted in his expulsion from the university. Thus, he gets a job elsewhere. Although the person who hires him knows what the director has done, it gives him the opportunity to continue working with the actors.

“The third public contemporary turn, rehearsals at school until 5 am. Dr. Grzegorz Wiśniewski hit the student in the face so hard that blood flowed from her nose. This is how you should play, you know,” he told the girl’s terrified stage partner. Anna Balega in her famous article.

One of his students, Bäuwi Tomaszowski, who performed on the Wiśniewski diploma in 2005 at the Academy of Theater Arts in Krakow, also spoke about Grzegorz Wiśniewski.

The director also became famous in 2019, during a demonstration against Roman Polanski’s visit to the Lodz Film School, when he attacked one of the protesting activists, Maja Stako. In one of the recordings, you can see how she calls Stako “a pitiful little creature,” and then forcefully knocks her hand on the mobile phone she’s using to film the action.

Following the actions of the Committee against Harassment and Discrimination at the Film School in ód, it was recommended to terminate the employment contract with Wiśniewski. He has been dismissed from his job so far. At the Wybrzeże Theatre, where Grzegorz Wiśniewski works as a full-time director, after revealing his violent achievements at a school in لودód, he takes an extended sick leave.

A few days ago, the name Grzegorz Wiśniewski appeared in the media again. All thanks to the premiere of his latest play “Maria Stewart”, which was held at the National Theater in Warsaw.

How did theater director Jean Englert respond to questions from the press? – My opinion has not changed: whoever committed a crime should be punished. But when he suffers, he must have the opportunity to return to society, work, and the environment. It cannot be deleted for life – He admitted in an interview with WP.

Are the consequences of expulsion from the university in which the director used physical, psychological and sexual violence sufficient? However, are the special achievements and art value that Wiśniewski brings to the stage supposed to remove the penalty?

In this case, we are dealing with a situation in which the director of one of the most important theaters in Poland gives a chance to “return to society” to a person who, in his opinion, has already suffered the consequences of his actions.

When writing my report on violence in artistic settings in April 2021, I asked my interlocutor and myself the question whether perpetrators of violence bear appropriate consequences for their actions. At that time, my heroes also spoke frightening words that their executioners would simply move to other institutions, where they would do exactly the same. When actress Julia Wizinska was asked about the consequences of violence against students and colleagues, she replied: “The labor court or civil trials. Otherwise, they feel unpunished and do exactly the same at the next workplace, because they can’t reach them. There are no consequences.”

Only a year after such high-profile reports, victims of Wiśniewski’s violence hear that lifelong perpetrators cannot be ruled out.

Finally, it is worth asking yourself who is really the loser in the war to overthrow the toxic master-apprentice relationship. Karolina Korwin-Piotrowska’s book contains many testimonies of victims of abusers who had to work through trauma in treatment. The heroes of my press report, after their traumatic experiences with the attacking lecturers, also recovered with the help of psychotherapists.

“During those classes, we couldn’t sleep. Two people had to see a psychiatrist because they couldn’t handle the humiliation by the lecturer.”

“I wanted to kill myself. I really thought this was the only way out of this situation. I felt worthless. It wasn’t until I went to therapy that I found out I was a victim of harassment and sexual harassment.”

This is what my heroines said over a year ago. Victims of violence used by teachers, directors, and others higher up the artistic hierarchy had to go to professionals to learn how to set boundaries. To work through the trauma, continue to work in the profession or simply – to survive.

Do the same testimonies come from the perpetrators? Has anyone “caught” using violence dare to act through the trauma he has dealt with young followers of the art?

Or, after the Polish version of #metoo, are we still stuck in a bubble protecting high profile authorities? The same bubble that shuts the mouths of people who are humiliated every day by a lecturer, principal, teacher or president. He shuts his mouth because it shows that the consequences of today’s tormentors are not commensurate with their actions.

Ernest Hemingway wrote, “It is foolish not to hope.” Is Jan Englert an example of a sage whose hope is so great that it allows him to believe in the astonishing transformation of a man, with the tools of his labor, ready to hit the actor in the face “so hard that blood gushes out of his nose”?

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Read also:

Different faces of violence, or the dark side of art schools

Weronika Szczawińska: Playing prestige is a very handicap

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