In October 2023, the London Literary Awards of the Association of Polish Writers Abroad (ZPPnO) were awarded for the 72nd time. The jury consisting of chairwoman Regina Wasiak-Taylor, president of ZPPnO; priest prof. Janusz Ihnatowicz, Houston, USA; Dr. Aleksandra Ziółkowska-Boehm, Wilmington, USA and Dr. Adam Wierciński, University of Opole, granted the award for lifetime achievement to the director, playwright, writer and academic lecturer Kazimierz Braun.
The editorial team of Kuryer Polski, on behalf of all readers and theater lovers, would like to congratulate the winner.
The Literary Award has been granted by the Association of Polish Writers Abroad since 1951. It was one of the first literary awards given to writers who did not decide to return to Poland after the war, and to those living in Poland who shared the pro-independence position of emigrants. This award is currently, next to the award for translators granted since 1927 by the PEN Club, the oldest continuously awarded Polish literary award. Its phenomenon lies in its continuity and, above all, in its social patronage.
Considering his rich achievements, Professor Kazimierz Braun deserves such an award like no one else.
He was born in the Kielce region in 1936. He graduated from two fields of study - Polish philology at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, and directing, at the Aleksander Zelwerowicz Higher State Theater School in Warsaw.
He made his debut in the theater as a director in 1961 and since then he has collaborated with many Polish theaters, including: Polish Theater in Warsaw, Wybrzeże Theater in Gdańsk, Juliusz Słowacki Theater in Krakow, Wilam Horzyca Theatre in Toruń, Ludwik Solski Theatre in Tarnów, and with many theaters abroad, including in the USA, Ireland, Canada, Germany.
In the years 1975–1984, he was the general and artistic director of the Wrocław Contemporary Theater, from where he was dismissed by the authorities due to his opposition activities. Since 1985 he has worked and lived in the USA. He directed, among others, at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Odyssey Theater in Los Angeles, Chicago Actors Ensemble, Kavinoky Theater in Buffalo, and at universities.
He also obtained subsequent scientific degrees, up to the rank of professor, doctor of humanities, which was awarded to him by the University of Wrocław in 1992. He received his second professorship at the University of New York located in Buffalo.
Since 1961 (since his debut), he has directed over 150 theater and television shows in Poland and abroad. A special place in his theater work is occupied by such authors as: C.K. Norwid, T. Różewicz, S. Wyspiański, W. Shakespeare, B. Brecht, but he also used Witkacy's plays (The Shoemakers) and Mrożek's dramas.
Braun practiced poetic theater, which, in addition to staging Norwid's works, manifests itself in his stage interpretations of T. Różewicz's works. He combined stage practice with theoretical reflection. He is the author of theater scripts, novels, radio plays and volumes of poetry.
To date, 77 of his books have been published. They concern the history and theory of theater, as well as works devoted to contemporary theater. Let's just mention some of them: "Cyprian Norwid's theater without theater" (1971), "Community Theater" (1972), "The Second Theater Reform?", "Theatre Space" (1982), People - Ideas of Events (1984), "The Excess of Theater" "(1984), "Languages of the theater" (1989), "Polish theater (1939-1989): Areas of freedom - Areas of enslavement" (1994), "Pocket history of theater in the world" (2000), "Pocket history of Polish theater"( 2003), "A Brief History of the American Theater" (2005). "Burning Theater" (2018).
He published several hundred sketches on the history and workshop issues of theater in Polish and English.
An important role in K. Braun's work is played by the figures of great Polish emigrants. Over the course of more than 20 years, a series of performances was created about great Polish women: the painter Tamara Łempicka "TamaraL", "Radiation" - about the great scientist Maria Skłodowska-Curie, a steadfast patriot, a prisoner of German camps and also a scientist, the protagonist of the drama "Karolina Lanckorońska." There were also performances about Pola Negri, Hanka Ordonówna, and Helena Modrzejewska.
He also dedicated two plays to JI Paderewski - "Paderewski's Children" and "Paderewski Comes Back".
Kazimierz Braun gained great recognition among theater audiences in Poland, Europe and America. He was awarded many times for directing plays by Norwid and Różewicz. He has also been a recipient of many awards, including:
- Medal of Merited Cultural Activist
- Gloria Artis Gold Medal - Gloria Artis for Merit to Culture,
- Medal of the National Education Commission
- Golden Cross of Merit.
ZPPnO Literary Award for lifetime achievement given to prof. Kazimierz Braun, falling in a time of a universal crisis of values in our lives, is all the more significant because the laureate's work evokes Norwid's virtues of beauty, goodness and patriotism.