Erwin Axer Honorary Citizen of Warsaw

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fot. Michał Englert

Erwin Axer, (born in 1917 - died in 1935)
Honorary Citizen of Warsaw since June 2008.

Born on 1st January 1917 in Vienna, a Polish theatre director, theatrical columnist and author of memoirs. In 1939 he graduated from the State Institute of Theatrical Art. He made his debut on the stage with Eugene O’Neill’s play The Moon of the Caribbes. After the start of war he came back do Lviv, where he spent three years (1939 – 1942). During the Soviet occupation, when The Polish Drama Theatre was open, he directed plays (for example Gabriela Zapolska’s Ms. Maliczewska) and acted in bit parts. After his father’s imprisonment (his father was a noted lawyer, who defended the main accused, Rita Gorgonowa, in a famous conjectural prosecution). At the end of 1942 he went to Warsaw. He took part in the Warsaw Uprising and after its failure he was imprisoned in a stalag. He worked in a quarry in the Harz Mountains. After the war he came back to Poland. In 1946 he became the head of the Chamber Theatre of the Soldiers' House in Łódź, (the theatre, after moving to Warsaw in 1949, was renamed as the Contemporary Theatre). He has administered the Theatre since 1981. In the years 1954 – 1957 he was the head of the connected stages of the Contemporary and National Theatre. Since 1962 he has regularly produced abroad – in Germany, Switzerland, USSR, USA and the Netherlands, and from 1972 he was a regular guest producer at the Viennese "Burgtheater". From 1949 to 1979, with short breaks, he lectured at the Directing Department at the Warsaw Academy of Dramatic Arts. He wrote numerous essays on theatre and short forms of literature, compared to Anton Chekhov's prose. They have been published in the Theatre and Dialogue magazines and in the books Letters From the Stage (1955, 1957), Theatrical Affairs(1966), Memory Exercises(1984, 1991, 1998), Problems of youth, problems of old age (2006), From Memory (2007).