This page was created thanks to cooperation with The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw.
The text below thank the courtesy of The Academy and Dr Paweł Płoński.
Gustaw Holoubek 1923-2008
Born on 21 April 1923 in Krakow, died on 6 March 2008 in Warsaw. Actor, director, and theatre manager.
One of the most renowned Polish actors in history. He has been described as "a thinking actor", "an intellectual actor", and "an actor with a reserved perspective". Blurring the boundaries between his private personality and his stage persona was a characteristic feature of his acting. Over the years, Holoubek became an actor expressing the dilemmas of contemporary Polish intellectuals through his theatre and film roles. Holoubek subordinated acting to a way of being, entangled it with political reality, with the intelligentsia's rationale and decisions, imposed his personality, and accustomed audiences to the fact that he was more than just an actor.
He was a film actor with particularly significant roles in the works of Wojciech Jerzy Hass and Tadeusz Konwicki. He was socially active. He presided the Association of Polish Stage Artists. He was also a member of the Polish parliament and a senator.
With a single role – Gustaw-Konrad in the “Forefathers' Eve” staged by Kazimierz Dejmek at the National Theatre in Warsaw (1967) – he left a lasting mark on the history of Polish culture, not only the history of theatre. That performance was the beginning of one of the major political crises in post-war Poland.
Today, that role enjoys a mythical status, similarly to his interpretation of the Great Improvisation, spoken in its entirety without exaltation, pathos, and the artificiality of Romantic chants. Holoubek's Konrad engaged in an intellectual battle with himself and with God; neither before nor after was the Great Improvisation performed in this manner, although many outstanding actors confronted Gustaw-Konrad.
With his civic engagement and artistic achievements, Gustaw Holoubek gained the position of unquestionable authority in Polish public life.