Polish stage designer, stage director and managing director of puppet theatres, trained as a teacher. Jan Dorman studied painting at the Cracow (Kraków) Academy of Fine Arts (1938-1939 and 1944-1945). In 1945, he established the Międzyszkolny Teatr Dziecka (Interschool Children’s Theatre) in Sosnowiec (Silesia), which he moved in 1949 to Będzin under the name of Teatr Dzieci Zagłębie (Theatre of the Children of Zagłębie historical and geographical region of southern Poland bordering Upper Silesia). He directed the theatre until 1978. It was an auteur theatre: Jan Dorman practised a theatre of associations, collage, mixed genres and children’s games.
For many years Jan Dorman was considered the “enfant terrible” of Polish puppetry. In his Krawiec Niteczka (Mr Floss the Tailor, 1958) by Kornel Makuszyński, he abandoned the screen and placed the manipulator on stage, with or without a puppet. In his next productions – Przygody Wiercipięty (The Adventures of Fussbudget, 1961) by Czech author of puppet plays Josef Pehr, Koziołek Matołek (The Ninny Goat, 1962) by Makuszyński, Młynek do kawy (The Coffee Mill, 1963) by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński – he broke with the conventional narrative and introduced a free composition of themes that evolved into poetic scenes that succeeded each other in the rhythm of nursery rhymes, counting rhymes, and games. This rhythm of action became the principle on which his dramaturgy and structure was based.
Jan Dorman played with the stage symbol, which could be a puppet, a prop, even an actor. He eschewed the literal or the illustrative. These tendencies are evident in his later productions: Błękitny ptak (The Blue Bird, 1963) by Maurice Maeterlinck; Która godzina? (What Time Is It?, 1964) by Zbigniew Wojciechowski; Szczęśliwy książę (The Happy Prince, 1967) based on Oscar Wilde; Kaczka i Hamlet (The Duck and Hamlet, 1968); Konik (The Pony, 1975).
Upon leaving the Teatr Dzieci Zagłębia, Dorman collaborated with puppet theatres in various Polish cities where he produced new plays. A retrospective called Wernisaż prac Jana Dormana (A Vernissage of Jan Dorman’s Works) was held in Zakopane (Poland) in 1981. During the 1980s, he joined the Wydział Lalkarski we Wrocławiu (Faculty of Puppet Theatre in Wroclaw) where he taught in the workshops and on student graduation productions.
In 1996, the Teatr Dzieci Zagłębia in Będzin was renamed the Teatr Dzieci Zagłębia im. Jana Dormana (Jan Dorman Zagłębie Children’s Theatre, or Zagłębie Jan Dorman Children’s Theatre) in his honour.
- Jurkowski, Henryk. “Teatr Dzieci Zagłębia, 1945-1974” [Theatre of the Children of Zagłębia, 1945-1974]. Pamiętnik Teatralny. No. 3. Warszawa, 1976.
- Kozień, Lucyna. Jan Dorman. Dokumentacja działalności [Jan Dorman. Documentation of His Work]. Vol. 10 of “Lalkarze. Materiały do biografii” series. Ed. M. Waszkiel. Łódź, 1996 (with a bibliography).
- Miłobędzka, Krystyna. Teatr Jana Dormana [Theatre of Jan Dorman]. Poznań: OOSDIM, 1980.[S]
- Waszkiel, Marek. Dzieje teatru lalek w Polsce, 1944-2000 [History of Puppet Theatre in Poland, 1944-2000]. Warszawa: Akademia Teatralna im. Aleksandra Zelwerowicza, 2012.[S]