Monday 17 June 2019

"Humanity is the key to our work": Łódź Film School Actor Interviews (iii): Paweł Głowaty

(Image: Tomasz Wysocki)

Paweł Głowaty plays Roy Cohn in Angels in America, directed by Małgorzata Bogajewska, for which he won the Kaleidoscope Award at the Polish Theatre Schools Festival this year. He features in the Diploma Film Nic Nie Ginie (Nothing is Lost), directed by Kalina Alabrudzińska, and also works as a director.

Alex Ramon: When did you become interested in performing?

Paweł Głowaty: For me it all began 7 or 8 years ago, when I started dancing. This was in Bytom. I was accepted to study there after exams. But I chose the Film School because I fell in love with theatre and with words. My Polish language teacher got me interested in literature and in poetry. I felt that it would be great to say such wonderful words on stage. As actors our job is to feel the words, to say them, and to say them with respect. So when I was accepted here I made the decision to come to Łódź, and, at the end of my studies now, I don't regret it at all. I think that Łódź was the place for me and I learnt many new things here. The most important thing here has been the people.

AR: What are some of the most significant things that you take away from the experience?

PG: One thing I learnt for sure is that I hate methods. They don't work for me. So I started going my own way. Literature teaches me the most. There you can learn the real history of people. I didn't realise that War and Peace would be so important for me. This is the way I came to know about humanity. That's what I think an actor should be: humanity. Humanity is the key to our work.

I also learnt that I don't like film work so much, and I'm less interested in pursuing it. I don't feel the energy in the same way on a film set. In theatre I know that I can make a move from my heart and soul and that I can bring everything I have inside me to the performance. Also, the connection with the audience is important. So I see it like this: work in theatre - great. Work in film - OK.

AR: Tell me about working on the second Diploma Show, Angels in America, in which you play a very challenging role: Roy Cohn. Were you familiar with Kushner's play before you started rehearsals?

PG: I'd heard about it but I didn't know the play before we started reading it. And my first thought was that it's a very hard text for young actors to do, very challenging. In particular, the role of Roy...well, I wondered if I could reach the level of playing this historical person. Of course, everyone knows the TV series version, with Al Pacino in the role. So I thought: Oh my God! I'm 23. How can I do it?!

Kamil Rodek and  Paweł Głowaty in Angels in America
Filip Szkopiński)

AR: So what was the process like? 

PG: I did a lot of research into him, and watched video footage closely. I was amazed by this strange energy he had. The way he looked at people. I was amazed, but scared too. Gradually I started to catch his mindset... And then - I don't know exactly how it happened - but my posture was different, my voice changed, I started moving my hands in a certain way. There was this transfomation.

AR: How does is it feel to play someone people tend to hate?

PG: During School I almost always played bad guys. Because of my not so "cute" face, I suppose! So when [director] Gosia Bogajewska told me "Paweł, you'll be Roy Cohn", I thought "Oh, it happened again!" I read an article online when I was preparing which described Cohn as "the worst homosexual in history." He was the person he himself could hate the most. He was anti-Semitic - and Jewish. Homophobic - and gay. All of this self-loathing was there. Playing a bad guy is not so hard for an actor, but playing a bad guy with different angles and levels - that's the challenge.

AR: Is it the actor's duty to make such a character "sympathetic"?

PG: A few performances ago I started to play the last scene not just with anger but with huge sadness and desperation. He's losing everything, and you need to feel that. I started to discover it more and more. The mother of Robert Ratuszny, who plays Prior, told me: "During most of the play I hated your character but at the end I felt something different." That was important to me. That people see him as something more than "the worst homosexual in history" and that you find some different colours. I especially like playing that last scene. It's intense, I'm sweating... But I feel like I have wings there.

AR: Angel wings, I guess... What was it like to meet with Joseph Mydell who played Belize in the original National Theatre production and who saw your production when he visited Łódź?

PG: It was a beautiful moment. We saw how moved he was and it seemed that the production had connected him to the past and given him some strong memories. That was very important for us.

(Photo: Tomasz Wysocki)
AR: Which theatres in Poland do you like?

PG: I admire the work of Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw, for one, because they focus on the Polish reality. I think at this time in our country it's important for theatre to be an oppositional force ... to stand against the not so colourful reality. I think that's the destiny of theatre.

AR: And what do you think of the condition of Polish cinema at the moment?

PG: I think it's having a renaissance. There are some great young directors. The 90s was not a good time for Polish film, but now it really feels like the art cinema is back in a great way.

AR: What are your plans for the future?

PG: I have a huge list of texts that I'd like to work on in future. I'm also starting to work as a director, which I like very much. When I'm directing I feel I can express more. With my collaborators, I can create a world from the beginning and be responsible for the vision. I think it changed my approach to acting as well. I was thinking about taking some directing course, but after these years of study to be honest what I want most is to get out there and do things, and I feel prepared for that. Every moment is a good moment to learn.

AR: How does it feel to be at the end of your studies?

PG: There's a sense of sadness because we've been so close as a group, and a part of our lives is coming to an end. But, on the other hand, there is freedom in that, because you can fly.

Angels in America is performed for a final time at Teatr Studyjny on 18 June.

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