Kosmopolis 2020 – The Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre

The Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre took place online this year. The international and interdisciplinary festival was organized by the Between.Pomiędzy Foundation and the University of Gdańsk, and the current 11th festival was organized by Tomasz Wiśniewski, Katarzyna Kręglewska, David Malcolm, Robson Corrêa de Camargo, Ewelina Stefańska, and Małgorzata Woźniak. 

Every year, the festival provides a space, a platform for creative expression in the form of theatre, film, photography, literature, discussion, and all this happens alongside a conference. This year there was an online festival, which happened in May, and a physical festival and conferences that are scheduled for 19 to 25 October 2020. The theme for the current Between.Pomiędzy festival is a word that embodies diversity—Kosmopolis.

The Between.Pomiędzy festival always happenes in May across Tricity. It is usually the time of the first warm days in this historic seaside area, where the sea breeze and whispering waves merge with old buildings and modern city. The previous editions welcomed guests from around the globe. The festival initially was a conference that focused on the work of Samuel Beckett, but later with growing interest, it became a festival that represented Beckett’s complex plays and other artistic interpretations of the contemporary times. That mainly happened through assigning a theme to the festival and inviting poets, writers, philosophers, and theatre-makers to respond. The festival was a place where many theatres presented their performances, but also the key component of every festival were academic conferences.

The first conference in the series took place in Olsztyn at the University of Warmia and Mazury and was organized by the founder of the festival and the Between.Pomiędzy Foundation—professor Tomasz Wiśniewski. Later he began working at the University of Gdańsk, hence the next festival and conference took place in the nearby town, Sopot. The festival Back to the Beckett text / Beckett na plaży happened in 2010, where the world-class researchers presented. One of the guests was professor Stanley E. Gontarski from Florida State University, who became an honored member and guest speaker of the festival ever since. Every year the conference and festival were growing stronger. The conference welcomed distinguished scholars, such as professor Derek Attridge from the University of York, who often visited the festival, as well as poets, writers, and artists, such as David Constantine, Helen Constantine, Michael Edwards, Jacek Gutorow, Jerzy Jarniewicz, Antoni Libera, Dorothy McMillan, Jakobe Mansztajn, Stanisław Modrzewski, Michael Parker and Piotr Sommer. The 2012 conference was about the British theatre company Complicité, during which the keynote speakers were, Marcello Magni who is one of the founding members of Complicité, and Douglas Rintoul, as well as professor Paul Allain from the University of Kent and Professor Dan Rebellato from the Royal Holloway, University of London. The following conference was about the work of John Maxwell Coetzee, Graham Swift, and John Berger. The speakers invited to this conference were John Bowen and David Kennedy. In 2014, the conference was mainly about Scotland and literature, where guest speakers were Christoph Heyl, Helen Lynch, Alan Spence, Elisabeth Burns, Alan Riach, Neal Ascherson. The following years welcomed such speakers as David Gothard who was a director of Traverse Theatre and Riverside Studios, poets such as Olga Kubińska and Jacek Gutorow, among many other participants throughout the years. With time the festival and conference expanded further and brought together artists, scholars, and theatre-makers. Alongside the discussion about the work of Samuel Beckett, each year the festival has a different theme. The most recent themes included Reading Maps in Literature and Theatre in 2018 and Islands and Laboratories in 2019.

Every year the list of supporting organizations is getting longer as multiple theatre companies and art institutions notice the potential of this event. The festival that happened only in Sopot in 2010, grew further to Gdańsk and Gdynia, to currently become a global event, so far with the use of the internet. Currently, the festival is financially supported by Sopot City Authorities, The Marshall’s Office of the Pomeranian Voivodeship, and Kąpielisko Morskie Sopot.

Kosmopolis 2020 – The Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre


The article was originally published in The Theatre Times:

Dobkowska, Sylwia. ‘Kosmopolis – The Between.Pomiędzy Festival of Literature and Theatre.’ The Theatre Times, 2020. https://thetheatretimes.com/kosmopolis-the-between-pomiedzy-festival-of-literature-and-theatre/.