Polish puppet theatre founded in Warsaw (Warszawa) in 1928 sponsored by educational associations under the initiative of Szczepan Baczyński and of Jan Wesołowski. In 1929, Maria Kownacka, author of the most popular puppet plays for children, such as Szewczyk Dratewka (Dratewka the Shoemaker) and O Kasi co gąski zgubiła (Kasia Who Lost Her Geese), became a permanent member of the company. During the following years, the pillars of Baj (The Tattler) were Wesołowski (stage director and musician), Wanda Pawłowska and Witold Miller, both set designers. Up to 1939, the Baj remained a semi-professional company performing for children on a szopka stage with floor slots to pass the puppets. It launched upon a wide ranging educational programme with summer workshops and an organized network of school theatres for which Baj produced stage scenes with puppets and sets to plays of its own repertoire. In 1938, the Baj opened a branch in Lodz (Łódź) and helped open dozens of companies in Poland and in Polish communities worldwide, out of which emerged new professional puppeteers.
During the war, the Baj operated in a semi-clandestine fashion, sometimes performing in the Warsaw ghetto. Having resumed its activities in 1945, and retaining its character of social commitment, it obtained a permanent residence in 1953 and was nationalized in 1954.
Between 1950 and 1973, director Jerzy Dargiel emphasized the educational role of the Baj. Krzysztof Niesiołowski, graduate of AMU (Akademie múzických umĕní Academy of Performing Arts, see DAMU) in Prague, became director of the company in 1973. He expanded the directions for Baj to include all kinds of modern techniques with Młynek do kawy (The Coffee Mill, 1973) by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, Latający wiatrak (The Flying Windmill, 1979) by Alina and Jerzy Afanasjew, Baśniowy las (The Fairy Tale Woods, 1985) by Jan Ośnica, and Cudowna lampa Aladyna (Aladdin’s Magic Lamp, 1994) by Bolesław Leśmian. The company has maintained the traditional orientation of its style by concentrating on shows for children and, for the most part, producing Polish plays.
Since 2009, with Ewa Piotrowska as the new leader of the theatre, Baj is looking for a more contemporary orientation.
- Jurkowski, Henryk, ed. W kręgu warszawskiego Baja [In and Around Warsaw’s Baj]. Warszawa: PIW, 1978.