BirthJanów, Poland [The Partition of Russia], today in Lithuania (1915)
DeathPuszczykowo-Poznań, Poland (2007)
Polish stage designer and director, actor-puppeteer, and managing director of puppet theatres. Leokadia Serafinowicz studied painting first in Wilno (today, Vilnius) from 1937 to 1939, later in Toruń from 1945 to 1948. She began her career as an actor-puppeteer in 1948 at the Groteska in Cracow (Kraków), then as stage director and stage set designer from 1952. She directed the Wrocławski Teatr Lalek (Wroclaw Puppet Theatre) from 1956 to 1958, and worked for a time at the Banialuka in Bielsko-Biała (1958-1960).
From 1960 to 1976, she served as managing director, artistic director and, until 1979, artistic consultant of the Teatr Animacji w Poznaniu (Poznan Theatre of Animation) – formerly named Marcinek (1957-1980) –, making it one of the most prestigious puppet theatres of the 1960s and 70s, with her surprising repertoire realized with the aid of contemporary literature, contemporary art and music. Working with her closest collaborators, the actor and stage director Wojciech Wieczorkiewicz and artist Jan Berdyszak, Leokadia Serafinowicz created the following productions: Bal u profesora Bączyńskiego (A Ball at Professor Bączyński’s, 1960); O Kasi, co gąski zgubiła (Kasia Who Lost Her Geese, 1967) by Maria Kownacka, in the form of a puppet opera; Mątwa (The Cuttlefish, 1968) by Witkacy; Wesele (The Wedding, 1969) by Stanisław Wyspiański; Siała baba mak (The Old Woman Sowed Poppies, 1969) by Krystyna Miłobędzka; and Wanda (1970) by Cyprian Kamil Norwid.
Leokadia Serafinowicz left Poznań to concentrate on stage design in partnership with Wojciech Wieczorkiewicz, producing plays in Polish and foreign puppet theatres with such shows as Co z tego wyrośnie? (What Will Become of Him?, 1988) at the Arlekin in Łódź. She collaborated on animation films, and conducted classes on the theatre for children and youth as well as acting at the University of Poznań. She was a professor of the Wydział Lalkarski we Wrocławiu (Faculty of Puppet Theatre in Wroclaw).
In the 1960s, she established an active art centre for children within the Marcinek theatre and set up Konfrontacje Teatralne (Theatrical Meetings), later called Biennale of Art for Children, a festival where artists, writers, musicians and filmmakers working for young audiences could meet to share their experiences.
Leokadia Serafinowicz’s stage designs centred on the potential of the metaphor, moving away from the literal, the seductions of colour and illustration. She sought different interpretations in the types of materials she used: wood, wicker, paper, and the costume of the actor. With her rigour and restraint, she was, according to Edward Gordon Craig, an “artist of the theatre”.