Białystok theatre granted permission to stage The Hobbit making it one of few allowed to do so - and the ONLY one in Poland
A theatre in Białystok is bringing J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Hobbit” to the stage, as the only one in Poland to obtain the right to do so.
Published in 1937, the fantasy novel is set in a fictional universe inhabited by hobbits – small people with hairy feet, which have leathery soles –, dwarves, elves and dragons.
The titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, reluctantly embarks on a quest led by Gandalf the wizard to obtain some of the treasure guarded by Smaug, a fearsome dragon.
On his long journey, Bilbo encounters strange characters, from a cave-dwelling creature called Gollum to trolls and goblins.
Tolkien returned to this setting in his later trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”, in which Bilbo and certain other characters in the book make a reappearance.
“The Hobbit” has been adapted several times in recent years, including into three fantasy adventure films released in 2012-2014.
Now the Dramatic Theatre in Białystok is staging a play based on the book, which premieres on 11 May.
For the stage adaptation to go ahead, the theatre had to receive permission from Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, which owns exclusive rights to the film, merchandising and theatre rights of “The Hobbit” and certain other works of Tolkien.
After almost a year of talks with San Francisco, the theatre received the right to do so.
“We don’t know what ultimately convinced the Americans to allow the play to be staged, but we suspect that the scale was tipped by the faithfulness to the author in the adaptation of the book for the stage,” said Grzegorz Suski, the play’s director.
That faithfulness involved a careful choice of scenery, costumes and music, while remaining true to the spirit of the story, he explained.
The actors have approached their roles playing characters from Tolkien’s fantasy world with dedication.
“My hero was lucky to be at the side of wonderful teachers who helped him be brave, noble and act in line with his conscience,” said Marek Cichucki, who plays Bilbo, the titular hobbit.
In his role as Thorin, the leader of the dwarves with whom Bilbo travels on his quest, Piotr Szekowski sought inspiration in literature and other sources – but said he has not seen the film yet.
“For me, that’s the biggest difficulty in this role: finding the physicality and emotionality of a dwarf,” he said.
As an actor, Szekowski is not interested in drawing parallels between the universe of Tolkien’s books the contemporary world in the play.
“It’s about a journey in the imagination – the actor has to use his imagination and enter the character so that he can take the viewer on a journey into this other world,” he explained.