In the Cauldron Boil and Bake an Owlet’s Wing

Tuesday April 25, 6:00 pm

Streetlife Hub, Coney Street

by Jakub Snochowski (POLAND)

translator Magdalena Szwedowska

European Reading in Performance

The first of a series of three staged play readings of European texts that are inspired or influenced by Shakespeare or are by writers roughly contemporary to him.

All are in new English translations, which are receiving their first performances, and all three are being heard in the UK for the first time in any language.

Eugene Schieffelin, an American ornithologist, sets out to introduce every bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays which is not native to America. It is the second half of the 19th century, and humanity is increasingly convinced of its greatness and of the infallibility of the human mind. Little did Schieffelin know that, owing to his decision, and the work carried out by the American Acclimatization Society, the United States would one day fall victim to an avian plague of unprecedented proportions. Contemporary US farmers have every right to be infuriated. The question is what, or rather who, is to blame for the disaster? Is it the Starlings that destroy crops, the benevolent ornithologist or perhaps Shakespeare himself?

Schieffelin, Shakespeare, a farmer and a Starling fix a date out of time to finally set things straight.

Jakub Snochowski (born 1977)  Actor, director, drama writer, performer, impro trainer, theatre instructor, impro coach.

He has performed at Polish national, public and alternative theatre companies, among them the Gdańsk Shakespeare Theatre, and has worked with renowned stage and film directors such as Robert Wilson, Meg Stuart, Andrzej Wajda, Jerzy Skolimowski, Grzegorz Bral (Song of the Goat Theatre) Grzegorz Jarzyna, Jerzy Jarocki, Jerzy Stuhr.

He directed Sad wykarczowany (Cleared Orchard) based on Anthony Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. His performative reading of “In the cauldron boil and bake an owlet’s wing” during XXV Gdansk Shakespeare Festival was given two awards for involving Shakespeare in an ecological scandal showing human impact on ecosystem. “In the cauldron …” was officially printed in the Polish monthly magazine of contemporary drama “Dialog” (nr 7-8, 2022).

The idea of this piece started during pandemic time. I learned a story about starlings and Shakespeare and I though that it would be a good vehicle to use for my opinion about the relationship between humanity and nature.  I applied for a grant to write. I got it and after three months I finished the first version. Than after a year, in 2021 I got together the money for a public performative reading, I got also some support from the Shakespeare Festival in Gdańsk. Following our success there I decided to translate it to English so my thanks to Philip Parr and York Festival for preparing this performative reading  in UK.

Tickets for this event are free but places are limited and must be reserved using the booking link below

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Jakub Snochowski (photograph by Krzysztof Opaliński)