BirthLwów, Poland, today Lviv [Lvov], Ukraine (1896)
DeathCracow [Kraków], Poland (1976)
Polish stage director, actor and managing director of puppet theatre, teacher. A graduate of the School of Drama in Lwów, Władysław Jarema began his career in theatre in the cities of Lodz (Łódź), Sosnowiec and Płock from 1920 to 1927. After spending time in Paris from 1928 to 1932, in the 1930s he worked with the Cracow and Warsaw avant-garde theatre of artists, Cricot (Teatr Artystów Cricot), as director and actor. In 1939, inspired by Sergei Obraztsov, Władysław Jarema and his wife Zofia Jaremowa established the Polski Teatr Lalek Białorusi Zachodniej (Polish Puppet Theatre of Western Belorussia) in Grodno, which he directed until 1941.
In 1945, he opened the Teatr Lalki i Aktora Groteska (Groteska Puppet and Actor Theatre) in Cracow with a premiere of Cyrk Tarabumba (The Tarabumba Circus) by Władysław Lech, a puppet revue which inaugurated a new direction for the postwar puppetry art school in Poland. Due to the financial losses and weak attendances of the following season, the Jaremas left this theatre and returned to the Groteska in 1948. Władysław Jarema soon handed over the management of the Groteska to his wife Zofia while remaining as its stage director until 1965.
Władysław Jarema was a pioneer of the modern Polish puppet theatre, a theatre conceived on broader lines than “just” a theatre for children. In the 1950s, several productions consolidated his artistic position and prestige in the theatre world: Konik Garbusek (The Hunchbacked Pony, 1950) by Peter Jershov; Nowe szaty króla (The Emperor’s New Clothes, 1951) based on Hans Christian Andersen, featuring masks for the first time, designed by Kazimierz Mikulski; and, most importantly, Igraszki z diabłem (Dallying with the Devil, 1952) by Jan Drda, and Noc cudów (A Night of Miracles, 1955) by Konstanty Ildefons Gałczyński, a production featuring masks.
Co-founder in 1954 of the Oddział Lalkarski PWST (Puppetry Department of the State Higher Theatre School) in Cracow, Władysław Jarema was professor (1954-1964) and later elected Head of the Department (1961-1964). From 1972, he collaborated with the Wydział Lalkarski we Wrocławiu (Faculty of Puppet Theatre in Wroclaw).
Along with Henryk Ryl, Władysław Jarema was the most important personality of Polish puppet theatre art during the 1950s and 60s. Coming from the actors’ theatre and the experimental theatre, he created the most renowned puppet theatre in the country. Recognized by both the public and critics alike, Władysław Jarema presented a repertoire for adults heretofore unknown by Polish puppeteers, thus opening up the Polish theatre to the mask theatre and the poetic theatre.