It is my last day in Dobrzyn, and soon it will be back to the big city: first Warsaw and then Chicago. But before I leave, Andrzej wanted to show me the theater/playhouse he had built for the children of the town over his garage.
The upper floor was converted into a large space accessible only by a ladder, which of course made it even more fun for the kids.
Andrzej was loosely affiliated with the secondary school in Dobrzyn, and played a large role in expanding the children’s lives: getting them computers, finding ways to make their education fun, and, above all, inviting them to their home and the theater in the summer to interact, put on plays, and learn. As a result of his and Malgorzata’s efforts, a number of poor local kids, who would have otherwise have been doomed to dead-end jobs in the town, have gone on to university and become lawyers, writers, and scientists.
It all started in the building below. Sadly, Andrzej’s health doesn’t permit him to run the theater any more, and so it sits abandoned, waiting for another good soul to come along pick up the cudgel:
Here is the inside with the stage and curtain (“My best linen!” said Malgorzata), decorated by cohorts of kids. There’s a dressing room off to the left.
“Klas 1A” on the curtain below refers to the first grade of secondary school, which included kids about 13 years old. Children would come to the theater and the surrounding garden every day in the summer, and about once a week during the warmer months of the school year.
Most of the time they would play, do fun educational things (e.g., talk about evolution, listen to Andrzej discuss local history, etc.), and, of course, put on plays, including “Romeo and Juliet,” with the swain standing in the garden below and calling up to his inamorata in the attic.
The remains of the curtain: here is Justyna’s signature from about 12 years ago (she is, if you’ve been reading, now a student of primatology in Warsaw).
The students also decorated the surroundings; here’s a grazing cervid of some sort:
It is sad that the room no longer rings with the happy cries of children. A few signs of their presence remain, over a decade old.
Dinner was a luscious dish of beef tenderloin cooked over scalloped potatoes, served with a nice Chianti (srsly). As Malgorzata reminded me, this was the first dinner she made for me when I visited here last fall. Now it is the Last Supper. 🙁
Of course, I can’t forget about the Most Famous Cat in Poland, who posed on top of her famous perch:
. . . as well as on the wicker shelf on the porch:
Sadly, Hili has been out much of the day, so I have been cat deprived. But it’s only right that I let her spend some time with her Official Staff:
And I’m sure you’ll all be fascinated by this video of Hili having her crunchies (yes, Ben, I know you frown on this). But listen to that cat chew!