Most of the posters have short lives. Glued on posts and bulletin boards, fences and walls, posted on noticeboards of theatres, music halls, museum, galleries, cinemas, they draw attention of passers-by with their beauty and colours, inviting to participate in the announced cultural events, literary meetings, music concerts, exhibitions, theatre performances and movies. In the landscape of cities, estates, villages, they occupy a special place in the process of human communication. They do this through their contents, forms, colours and usually do it in an attractive, distinctive and often sophisticated style. They became allies of literature, music, art, film, entertainment, and especially theatre.
On November 19, 1765, in the non-existent building of the Operalnia on Królewska St., „;Natręci”; (Intruders) by Józef Bielawski, a play based on a concept taken from Moli, was staged. It was the first spectacle in the history of the national theatre staged in the native language of a Polish playwright, presented by a team of „;Aktorowie Narodowi Jego Królewskiej Mości”; (His Majesty’s National Actors), appointed by King Stanisław August Poniatowski. On the two hundred fiftieth anniversary of that significant event, the Sejm of the Polish Republic made 2015 the Year of Polish Public Theatre. A theatre performance is a work of many artists for a single viewer. The poster that announces, interprets and comments the performance, is a work of one or two artists for a large group of participants in a theatre celebration that each stage performance is.
Stanisław Wyspiański’s lithographs printed in 1899 for a Stanisław Przybyszewski’s lecture „;Mysticism and Maeterlinck”; that took place on February 20th of that year in the Krakow City Theatre, and for the staging of Maurice Maeterlinck’s fantasia „;Interior”; are considered to be the first Polish theatre posters. The performance was „;kindly attended by Zapolska, Bednarzewska, Pomian, Przybyłko, Teodorowicz and Kamiński, Roman, Węgrzyn. Polish theatre poster is known for its interesting, captivating form, it combines a variety of styles and trends. It provokes reflections and meditations. It can talk interestingly about the beauty and wisdom of theatre, about its activities and dilemmas in its own loud voice. A special curiosity and inquisitiveness are aroused in the audience by the emotions and sensitivity with which the artist designing a poster reacts to the work of another artist —a theatre director, by the way the poster designer translates the director’s stage ideas, concepts and intentions into artistic image.
The older generations of poster designers delighted the audience, theatre people and art critics with the originality and diversity of their projects, the peculiar language of metaphors and expression, their „;painterly”; vision and, finally, their national spirit. They not only informed and commented, but also aroused fascinating, intriguing artistic and spiritual experiences.
At the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, there was another interesting generation of designers who continued the painterly way of composing posters used by their predecessors and, just like them, were building the world of imagery based on distinctive signs, symbols. The generation that debuted a few years later, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, was subjected to increased political pressures and constraints of censorship. They created their artistic space opposing pressures and bans imposed by the authorities. In difficult, dramatic days of martial law, they helped create the movement of independent culture. Their designs are characterised by expression, bold comments on the contemporary reality and graphic simplicity, concise, clear signs and symbols.
The youngest designers of the Polish theatre posters are modern, willing to experiment, enjoy digital photography and computer graphics systems. The art of the young is based on a condensed sign, paintings of everyday, common, often useless items, and the man was entangled by them in a variety of surprising sets of life situations. They are eager to create fun, wonder-inspiring collages and puzzles. In their works they document personal experiences and feelings, as well as moods and atmosphere of the times in which they live and create, make decisions and deal with issues pervading the contemporary society. Poster art is under constant transformation, absorbs subsequent generations of talented graphic designers, painters, photographers. Because of them, its nature, poetics, visual language keep changing. They create its uniqueness, originality and spontaneity.
Theatre poster continues to attract attention, gets enormous interest of passers-by and the audience of theatres and other places where drama, comedy and other forms of theatrical creativity found their significant place.