January 24th through February 9th: “Princess Ivona” by Witold Gombrowicz

Translated by Catherine Robbins and Krystyna Griffith-Jones
Directed by Michael Hunter

Shows run Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from January 24th through February 9th
all shows begin at 8:00pm
Tickets: $30 ($20 student rate)
For tickets email:

The Collected Works (, together with the Performance Art Institute, is proud to present the Bay Area professional premiere of Princess Ivona, the 1935 Absurdist comic masterpiece by the celebrated Polish playwright Witold Gombrowicz.

Princess Ivona (or Ivona, Princess of Burgundia) is the first, and most internationally performed, of the plays of Witold Gombrowicz, the influential Polish novelist, playwright, and diarist, whom
John Updike has called “one of the profoundest of the late moderns” and Milan Kundera “one of the great novelists of our century.” Widely performed and celebrated throughout Europe and on the East Coast, Gombrowicz’s timeless and wickedly funny allegory is finally being introduced to Bay Area audiences, by a brand-new company of gifted and experienced theatre makers, in the exciting new warehouse space of the Performance Art Institute.

Written in 1935, the play was published in 1938 but not performed until 1957, after which it was immediately banned by the Communist government in Poland. Professional productions of the play began to emerge in Europe in the 1960s, quickly establishing Gombrowicz’s status as a major Modernist playwright.

The play follows the bizarre intrigues of a self-confident Royal Court, whose members enjoy an unchallenged sense of privilege, luxury, and control – over both themselves and others. The presence of a strange, awkward, silent young woman who mysteriously wanders into their world soon throws the court into a tailspin – the King and Queen begin to unravel at the core of their being, and the rational functioning of the court’s administrators becomes increasingly lunatic. As the play spirals towards its astonishing ending, both the story and Gombrowicz’s inventive language become more outlandish and theatrical.

The Collected Works is a new, San Francisco-based producing company, comprised of theatre makers, performers, and scholars, who met and began working together when they were in doctoral programs in performance at Stanford and Berkeley. The group is committed to exploring new collaborative models, and to developing both experimental performance and strong, intelligent productions of classic texts. Princess Ivona is their inaugural production.

The core members of the company are Michael Hunter (director), Barry Kendall (producer and actor), Renu Cappelli (assistant director), Matthew Daube (actor), Florentina Mocanu (actor), and James Lyons (lighting designer). The cast features Tonyanna Borkovi, Ryan Tacata, Brian Smick, Atessa McAleenan-Morrell, Will Trichon, James Udom, Shaudy Danaye-Elmi and Jean Franco.

The production features a large and extremely talented team of designers, including sound designer Derek Phillips, architect Ariane Fehrenkamp, visual curator and furniture designer Brian Yarish, and textile artist Latifa Medjdoub.

In advance of the performance, Latifa Medjdoub has been fabricating a large soft textile sculpture at the Performance Art Institute, which will be used in the performance. The public has been invited to participate in the making of this abstract knitted-fiber piece built on a computerized loom and recalling living forms from the deep ocean.

The incredible local singer and string player Meredith Axelrod (The Get Happy String Band) will perform old American songs from the 20s and 30s as part of this innovative production of Gombrowicz’s classic play.

To celebrate the important debut of Princess Ivona in the Bay Area, leading Gombrowicz scholar Professor Allen Kuharski (Chair of Theater at Swarthmore College) and Lillian Vallee, translator of Gombrowicz’s influential DIARY (recently republished in a new edition by Yale University Press) will lead a talkback after the performance on January 25.

“Review your platitudes.” – Witold Gombrowicz

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