11 March 2019 was the day Andrzej Tadeusz Wirth – a philosopher, translator, essayist, a grand theorist and a practitioner of theatre – passed away in Berlin. He was a lecturer and an academic, both in the USA (Stanford, New York, or The City University) and in Europe (Freie Universität Berlin, Oxford). He had a lot of prominent students, such as René Pollesch, Monster Truck, Helgard Haug and Daniel Wetzel from Rimini Protokoll, She She Pop, Gob Squad.
He was the first person to use the term ‘postdramatic theatre’, which was then developed by his student, Hans-Thies Lehmann. He translated the works of Bertold Brecht, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Peter Weiss, at the same time promoting and popularising Polish authors and play writers internationally, especially Bruno Schulz, Tadeusz Borowski, Jerzy Grotowski and Tomasz Kantor, but also the drama plays by Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Witold Gombrowicz, Tadeusz Różewicz and Sławomir Mrożek.
Wirth’s presence, image and opinions were subject to constant, conscious, self-administered performance. He believed theatre could serve as theory of everything and considered it to be an aesthetic utopia. As a writer and observer of the world’s stages, and contrary to the conventional approach of critics, he would refrain from describing what he saw. Instead, he was curious about the theatre that has yet to come, “the theatre that could still come to be”. He urged people to abandon the cultist ideology that framed theatre as a sacral space where a community was formed.
Andrzej Tadeusz Wirth was Malta Festival’s honourable guest twice. First, in 2009, he was the head of the jury for New Situations – a competition for young performative artists functioning in public space. Then, on 27 June 2014 he took part in a debate entitled: “Who needs freedom”, organised by the festival in response to the cancellation of Golgota Picnic spectacle.
Good Bye, Dear Professor
Malta Festival’s Team