Piotr Sawicki (March 16, 1905 – December 5, 1991). It is thanks to his social activism, unwavering enthusiasm and stubbornness that Białystok gained a permanent puppet scene. Initially, it was called “Świerszcz” State Puppet Theatre. Now it is simply Białystok Puppet Theatre (BTL).
Sawicki acted in difficult times. His pre-war efforts to establish a permanent puppet theatre in Białystok were brutally interrupted on September 1, 1939. Eight years later, after returning from war exile, he tried again. Successfully. However, the price of success turned out to be high. He was unable to fully realize himself as a theatre artist. He did not create much, being preoccupied with mundane matters related to establishment, functioning and maintenance of the stage. Perhaps that is why posterity remembers him first as a well-deserved social activist, rather casually dealing with production of puppet performances, not having any major artistic ambitions.
The idea behind this anniversary presentation is to show Piotr Sawicki’s achievements in all their fullness. After all, the founder of BTL, contrary to popular belief, was not only a theatrical social activist, but also an efficient organizer who stubbornly pursued his goals. Above all, Piotr Sawicki was an interesting creative personality, a versatile, talented artist with rich but little-known output. Although perhaps the phrase “showing in all its fullness” is not – to be exact and honest – appropriate in the context of this exhibition. In BTL foyer, we are able to barely signal the uniqueness of Piotr Sawicki. We tried to do this by presenting his memorabilia, but above all by presenting his selected works and reproductions of those that have not survived to our times. They give some idea of the spectrum of artistic activity of BTL creator, which was really wide. After all, the first director of Białystok puppet scene was not only a director, stage designer, designer of puppets, costumes and masks, but also a draftsman, painter, sculptor, designer of occasional decorations and advertisements, a poet as well as a photographer working in the field of reportage, theatre documentation, landscape and portrait.
If you are interested in the person and work of Piotr Sawicki, please refer to anniversary publication entitled “Our BTL”: Piotr Sawicki – an Artist [also available online]. You can find there a detailed description of artist’s creative work, which is of great importance and merit for the city of Białystok as well as dozens of reproductions of his works described in detail.