THE National Old Theatre in Krakow is Poland’s most hallowed playhouse. Its boards have been graced by revolutionary directors such as Tadeusz Kantor, who blurred the distinction between stage and audience in the 1950s, and Krzysztof Warlikowski, notable for his pioneering use of video in the 1990s. The names of its managing directors read like a “Who’s Who” of Polish theatre.

So when in 2017 the right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government chose a nonentity to replace the theatre’s illustrious previous head, Jan Klata, employees at the state-controlled institution rebelled. Actors refused to perform, set designers put down their sketchpads, directors turned down invitations to collaborate. Read more