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(photo by Natalia Kabanow)

Cancellation of Krystian Lupa’s Polish version of Franz Kafka’s The Trial at NYU Skirball has led to panel discussion and marathon reading in defense of artistic freedom (photo by Natalia Kabanow)

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
566 La Guardia Pl.
Sunday, March 8, free, 1:00 - 10:00

NYU Skirball is facing its own Kafkaesque drama in its attempt to stage a Polish version of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Krystian Lupa’s adaptation was scheduled to come to the Washington Square theater March 7-8, but the show was canceled when the Adam Mickiewicz Institute (AIM) cut off its funding. “Kafka’s The Trial is the story of political corruption, government censorship, and social malevolence — a story that mirrors our current global realities,” Skirball director Jay Wegman said in a statement. “Sadly, and ironically, the Polish government has pulled its funding in an attempt to silence Krystian Lupa, making this North American premiere impossible.” In a revealing Theatermania article, Wegman went toe-to-toe with AIM acting director Barbara Schabowska, arguing over what really happened, whether it was censorship, sloppiness, or incompetence.

Instead, Skirball is hosting a panel discussion and marathon reading of The Trial, presented in conjunction with the Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, PEN America, and CUNY’s Segal Center. The free March 8 program begins at 1:00 with “Art in Danger, Artists at Risk,” a panel featuring Monika Fabijanska, Holly Hughes, Felix Kaputu, André Lepecki, Julie Trébault, and Lupa, moderated by Catharine R. Stimpson, as they explore issues of artistic freedom, particularly amid the global populist movement. “The declaration of Minister Gliński is clear,” Lupa said in a statement. “Artists who do not sympathize with the current leadership’s cultural policy, who criticize its values, decisions, and actions, will be treated as enemies of Poland and will not be supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in any form.” From 3:00 to about 10:00, there will be a marathon reading of Kafka’s posthumously published 1925 novel, with such special guests as Salman Rushdie, Kathleen Chalfant, Zadie Smith, and Kwame Anthony Appiah. Advance RSVP is recommended but not required; there will also be limited spots available to the public the day of the event. “Someone must have been spreading lies about Josef K, for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one morning.” And so it begins.

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