Tuesday 18 June 2019

"The most important thing for me is diversity": Łódź Film School Actor Interviews (iv): Ksenia Tchórzko

Ksenia Tchórzko (Photo credit: Julia Klewaniec)

Ksenia Tchórzko plays multiple roles in the Diploma show, Pomysłowe Mebelki z Gąbki (Fever), directed by Mariusz Grzegorzek (for which she won prizes at the Morocco International Drama Schools Festival and the 37th Polish Theatre School Festival). She also plays the Rabbi, Ethel Rosenberg and Hannah Pitt in Angels in America, directed by Małgorzata Bogajewska, and  features in the Diploma film Nic Nie Ginie (Nothing is Lost), directed by Kalina Alabrudzinska. 

Alex Ramon: When did your interest in acting start?

Ksenia Tchórzko: From kindergarten! By the time I got to primary school, I already knew that I wanted to be an actress and really there was nothing else for me. 

AR: Why Łódź Film School?

KT: I think Łódź chose me. I had exams for three schools - Warsaw, Krakow, and Łódź - and this was the one where I was successful. 

AR: What are your feelings about the training here?

KT: There are good and bad things, ups and downs. There are some gaps in the training. You don't end up with particular techniques and methods, for example. On the one hand, that's a downside: I still feel like I need more of those things, and I'm a bit uncomfortable without them. On the other hand, there were some amazing teachers here who gave me a lot of great inspiration and advice.

AR: Which professional actors inspire you, from here in Poland or abroad?

KT: Christoph Waltz is exceptional to me. I very much admire that he's an international actor. It's the kind of career I would hope for. In Poland I notice that there are many actresses who really get into their stride when they're in their 50s. People like Aleksandra Konieczna, Agata Kulesza, Dorota Kolak - they were always great actresses, of course, but they get better and better, and find some of their most interesting roles now they're older. Their way wasn't the usual one, and that's very inspiring to me as a young actress.

AR: Which filmmakers do you admire?

KT: I immediately think about Tarantino! I like old French and Italian cinema very much too, and contemporary directors like Paolo Sorrentino. Here in Poland, directors like Bartosz Konopka, Agnieszka Smoczyńska and Jagoda Szelc are doing such interesting, challenging work. 

AR: Does the political situation in Poland make it difficult for artists right now?

KT: Perhaps, but sometimes when the political situation is not in its best state the culture improves, in a way, because it gives people something to react to strongly and fight against. 

     (Photo: Tomasz Wysocki) 

AR: How was it to work on the first Diploma show, Fever, with Mariusz Grzegorzek - which is a challenging, oppositional show in many ways?

KT: It was so exciting mainly because of Mariusz's personality. Sometimes in the morning he'd be like: "Oh God, I can't do it, I have such a headache!" Then by the afternoon there's no stopping him! We gave him our trust at the beginning and it paid off. It was definitely hard work. Mariusz is the kind of director who has a vision and will do everything to achieve it. I much prefer that to someone who doesn't really know what they want. But there was room for spontaneity, and our suggestions and ideas were always encouraged.

AR: Was the material that he brought in familiar to you?

KT: The Hutsul material was new for me, and it was wonderful to learn about it. We needed that in the show as a contrast. "Swollen Problems" is the kind of thing you can see on TV all the time, but the Hutsul traditions were our soul and it was great to explore them.

Fever (Photo: Filip Szkopiński) 

AR: Do you have some other favourite moments to perform in the show? 

KT: I do like "Swollen Problems," both being in it and watching my colleagues as they try out different things each time. It's very inspiring. And I like the last "Four Miles from Warsaw" sequence very much. I'm close to the audience and can see their reactions as I'm singing. It's my moment of direct contact. 

AR: How was it to perform this very Polish show at the FIESAD festival in Morocco?

KT: It was quite crazy! There were so many people, too many for the room. Reactions were very vivid and vocal - people were shouting out. They liked "Swollen Problems" a lot; this kind of TV show is international and everyone can relate to it. But they were speechless after the last part, that very intense scene.

Fever (Photo: Filip Szkopiński)

AR: How did making Angels in America compare?

KT: At the beginning I thought: No way! I'd seen the HBO series and knew about the iconic Warlikowski production, and I thought there was no way we could do this, or do the piece justice by only doing the first half. Rehearsals weren't so comfortable because we were in Krakow and the change of environment was challenging. And also, I had three roles. But in the end that proved very interesting: this strange combination of characters: a Rabbi, a Mormon, and a Jewish woman. Following in the footsteps of Meryl Streep is quite special! We did a lot of research on American history, and an academic specialist on the play spoke to us. For Polish viewers it can be hard to get to grips with the complicated American context, so this was very helpful. 

I met a Rabbi and Mormons to learn about the cultures and traditions. I like this part of work very much. It was also interesting that Mariusz and Gosia [Bogajewska] work in totally different ways, and have very different personalities as directors. Mariusz has a clearer vision from the beginning. Gosia is more about trying out different things during the rehearsals and asking the actors to prepare individually.

The Angels in America company (Photo: Filip Szkopiński)

AR: How was it to meet Joseph Mydell who played Belize in the original National Theatre production and who saw your production when he visited Łódź? 

KT: It was really touching because he was so moved by the performance. It was amazing that he saw the show for the first time in 25 years in Łódź. And I think that was the moment when I thought: OK, maybe it was worth it after all. Up to that point I didn't feel so confident about the production, but his reaction convinced me that we were doing some good things.

AR: How was working on the Diploma film, Nic Nie Ginie?

KT: I don't have a big part but it was a great experience. I was a bit angry about the situation at first, because not everyone has a part like they did in Monument last year but once I got on set my attitude changed, mostly because of Kalina. She is amazing: her openness, her confidence. It was a short time but I learnt a lot.

AR: How about your future plans or dream roles?

KT: I have some upcoming work in theatre and film, and I'm excited to work in both of those mediums. In terms of dream roles, it's hard to say; there are many things I would like to play. The most important thing for me is diversity. The idea of playing a character of the opposite gender is always interesting. In that way, Angels in America became a dream, playing those three different parts. As it happened I'd started learning Hebrew before I was cast; maybe it was intuition or something. 

I think it's possible to find something interesting about every project. In Angels, I would say that I learnt how to be a supporting actress. It can be challenging not to be at the centre, but through this experience I learnt how to support my friends on stage and to really be there for them. It's one of the main things I take away from this production.

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

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