Rank #1: BEAR
Hear all about a brave bear named Wojtek who came to join the army in a time of war.
After being released from Soviet prison camps, exiled Polish soldiers reunited under General Władysław Anders and were informally dubbed ‘Anders Army’. This army, after evacuating the Soviet Union, traveled to the Middle East to join Allied forces. While in Iran, the Anders’ Army added an unlikely member to their ranks who played an important role in the company as he helped to boost morale, carry ammunition, and perform guard duties. Though this soldier may appear to be rather typical, he was far from it. He was, after all, a Syrian brown bear.
In this episode, our hosts John and Nitzan will discuss the unbelievable story of Wojtek the bear and his legendary role in the 22nd Company of Anders’ Army. How did the army find this bear and why did they keep it, even incorporate it? How did Wojtek contribute to the military efforts? And what became of him after the war was over?Time stamps [02:10] A brief introduction to events in Poland during the Second World War [05:35] How Wojtek was introduced to the Anders’ Army [08:35] How Wojtek was incorporated into the army [11:14] How could a bear be tamed and trained as a soldier? [14:27] How did the soldiers manage to feed an animal as large as Wojtek? [15:58] How Wojtek helped his company at the Battle of Monte Cassino [17:57] What happened to Wojtek and his company following the battle [22:35] Wojtek’s impact on Polish soldiers and his legacy Further reading
- One Photo One Story: Wojtek the Soldier Bear / on Culture.pl
- Trail of Hope / a site chronicling stories from the Anders Army that went into Trail of Hope, Norman Davis' book on the subject
- Wojtek the Bear / on Wikipedia
- Norman Davies on the Trail of Anders’ Army / on Culture.pl
- Battle of Monte Cassino / on Wikipedia
Wojciech Narębski / emeritus professor of the Polish Academy of Sciences and ex-soldier of the Anders' Army, who kindly allowed us to interview him and told the story of the unit Wojtek served in.
Tadeusz Kaleta / professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, who kindly explained how bears behave in their natural habitat.Songs & sound clips On My Way to New Orleans / Performed by Arthur Collins and Byron G. Harlan; Issue Number: Edison Blue Amberol: 2650, Edison Record: 3744; Release year: 1915 Jazz Baby / Performed by Marion Harris; Released under Victor Records; Release year: 1919 WWII Chronicle / Film Bulletin; Produced by Signal Corps Photographic Center; Issue no 48 Air Raid Siren Sound Effect / A RNaudioproductions original recording // Audio 2005 Writing on Paper with Pen Sound Effect / A SoundEffectsFactory original recording
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller & Barbara Rogala
Aug 31 2017
Rank #2: ESPERO
Learn how Ludwig Zamenhof single-handedly created an entire language, Esperanto, in the 19th century.
Esperanto is the most widely-spoken artificial language in the world today. It has allowed people from vastly different backgrounds with vastly different cultures to connect with one another and share experiences. Despite its success, many often forget Esperanto’s humble origins and the fascinating story of its creator, L.L. Zamenhof, a man whose main goal was bringing peace to the world.
[00:25] A quick reminder of the Tower of Babel legend [02:50] Introducing Mark Fettes, president of the Universal Esperanto Association [03:30] How living in multi-cultural Białystok shaped L.L. Zamenhof’s views on peace and minorities’ rights [06:48] How a teenage Zamenhof came up with his first version of the constructed language [08:30] What is Zionism, and what is Homaranismo? [11:40] Zamenhof's struggle to make Esperanto popular [16:42] Our hosts go to Białystok to attend an Esperanto convention [19:39] How the US Army (mis)used Esperanto in their combat training programme [21:03] What is a gateway language? [23:05] Is Esperanto just a language or is it a philosophy? Why is Esperanto worthwhile?
- Białystok: The Original Babel of the Eastern European Borderlands
- How Much Polish Is There In Esperanto
- Did David Bowie Know Esperanto? The Invented Language of Warszawa & the Eastern-European Story Behind It
- The Legacy of Ludwik Zamenhof Gallery
- 9 Things You Need To Know About Esperanto and Its Creator
- Tim Morley's full TED Talk speech
Łukasz Żebrowski / Esperanto and beer blogger. Łukasz gave us plenty of advice on how to discover the world to Esperanto, let us know about the convention and largely helped in scheduling the interview with Mark Fettes. Thanks Łukasz!
Przemysław Wierzbowski / president of the Bialystok Esperantist Association. For kindly inviting us to Esperantists convention and facilitating finding great interviewees.
Conference participants: Michaela Stegmaier, Hamlet Randall, Mathieu Desplantes, Szabolcs Szilva and Iwona Zalewska who kindly gave us a short introductory Esperanto lesson.Esperanto pop song playlist
Let It Be / The Beatles
Jolene / Dolly Parton
Hello / Adele
New York, New York / Frank Sinatra
Unconditionally / Katy Perry
I’m a Believer / The Monkees
Check our full playlist on Youtube!
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner & Michael Keller
Sep 20 2017
Rank #3: CRACKED
Finland + technology = Nokia, doesn’t it? Yes, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finland is responsible for many technological breakthroughs from the last couple decades, such as the SSH cybersecurity protocol used on over half of the world’s web servers, and Internet Relay Chat, which people born in the 1980s will remember as the first instant messenger.
But back in the early 1990s, Finland’s tech scene was mostly just a lot of teenagers pirating software illegally. They would code at squat parties filled with cigarette smoke. None of the glossy corporate world that lay ahead was on anybody’s mind.
In this episode, Molly Schwartz, who lived there for almost two years, goes on a journey to the roots of Finland’s tech transformation. She dives deep into 8-bit music, pixelated computer screens and the days when games were distributed on C-cassettes. Just how did this small, cold, dark and sparsely-populated country become an IT powerhouse?Time stamps
[02:26] Wili Miettinen runs away from home and starts coding and… pirating[03:58] What were the beginnings of the Demoscene? [06:45] Demoparties![08:28] Why was it so difficult to create demos back in the early 1990s?[09:39] Demosceners start using their skills to make money...[12:28] … and serious business players take notice[14:40] Introducing Taneli Tikka[17:40] Taneli Tikka invents proto-Twitter[19:28] The demoscenes’ impact on the startup scene[23:02] Molly’s final monologue[24:45] Credits & thanksFurther watching
- Second Reality PC Demo by Future Crew / on YouTube.com
- Making Of Second Reality / Future Crew / on YouTube.com
- Some hard data on the Demoscene / on Wikipedia
- Demoscene Still Alive and Kicking / on Wired.com
- Demoscene So Far / on a 90s-style Finnish blog
- How 1990s Polish Kids Discovered Nintendo through Piracy / on Culture.pl
- Wili Miettinen / for telling us about his personal experiences throughout his long career and how the tech industry grew out of squats and parties. You can find him on Twitter (where his username is, of course, OG): @wili
- Taneli Tikka / for talking to us about his experiences at Assembly as a teenager and how his forays into inventing social media. You can also find Taneli on Twitter: @tanelitikka
- Molly would also like to thank all the people who helped her along the way. Her special thanks go to Jussi-Pekka Harviainen, Pekka Aakko, Marko Reunanen and Jukka Kauppinen.
Written & produced by Molly SchwartzEdited by Adam Żuławski & Wojciech OleksiakScoring & sound design by Wojciech OleksiakHosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
Feb 28 2019
Rank #4: TRANSMUTATION
Alchemy – the supposed ancient art of turning everyday objects into gold – is widely believed to be obsolete. Interestingly, however, every bit of this notion is wrong.
First of all, as it turns out, alchemy is still being practised today and, according to one of our guests, is doing better than ever. And second of all, it apparently was never actually an art of the physical transmutation of objects, but a very profound blend of philosophy, chemistry, physics and religion.
Join us on SFTEW as we travel back to the Middle Ages and meet Michael Sendivogius, an alchemist who contributed to the discovery of something absolutely essential...Time stamps
[01:10] A transmutation in Emperor Rudolph’s court[03:37] Why were alchemists sought after? [04:43] What actually happened at the Emperor’s court?[06:39] What was alchemy really all about?[08:42] Were alchemists nothing more than a bunch of fraudsters?[10:53] Alchemical code[12:51] ‘There’s a secret substance in the air’[13:47] How Sendivogius came to his startling discovery [17:29] Alchemy is not dead[21:07] Credits
Zbigniew Andrew Szydlo / for revealing all the secrets of transmutation and alchemy to Adam, our editor and host. Dr Szydlo is an acknowledged chemist, educator and a great performer with a mission of presenting experiments outside of the classroom.
Mark Stavish / for talking with us about the state of alchemy today. Mark is the director for the Institute for Hermetic Studies in Pennsylvania and a life-long student of esotericism with over 25 years experience in comparative religion, philosophy, psychology, and mysticism with emphasis on Traditional Western Esotericism.
Rafał T. Prinke / for explaining how close Sendivogius really was to the world of science. Dr Prinke is a historian specialising in astrology, esotericism and ancient games. John Beauchamp / for his Sendivogius impersonation. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.Credits
Written & produced by Elizabeth Lawrence & Wojciech OleksiakEdited by Adam ŻuławskiScoring & sound design by Wojciech OleksiakHosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam ŻuławskiResearch by Monika Proba
Jan 31 2019
Rank #5: ZBIGNIEW
How a well-known opposition leader evaded capture by the communist authorities for almost five years. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain.
In the early 1980s, Zbigniew Bujak was the head of Solidarity in the Warsaw region, a pro-democratic labour movement that was gaining in strength. So much so, in fact, that the communist leadership declared martial law in December 1981 in order to stop the opposition dead in its tracks. Hundreds of political activists were arrested, including much of the leadership of Solidarity. But Bujak managed to go into hiding before they had a chance to find him. Making use of an underground oppositionist network as well as methods of masking his movements, he managed to evade capture for five years.
Keeping Zbigniew in hiding became crucial for the underground opposition since not only was he orchestrating anti-regime actions, but his continued freedom remained a symbol of the secret police’s weakness.
How did his hiding end? What was the long-term impact of his activity? What did freedom mean for Bujak himself? How does he remember the shift of power from his own perspective? You’ll find all the answers in the opening episode of Stories From The Eastern West’s new mini-series The Final Curtain.
Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter!Time stamps
[01:45] Life in 1970s Poland [04:51] Zbigniew Bujak starts his anti-regime activities [09:47] Martial law [11:25] Going into hiding [17:17] Arrest. What next? [19:37] Glasnost: what it means, and what it meant for Poles [22:37] Communism is gone. Who takes over now?Further reading
Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
Aug 23 2019
Rank #6: BOWIE
Explore the meaning and story behind one of David Bowie's most iconic songs.
In 1973, while travelling by train across the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, David Bowie had a brief and seemingly insignificant stopover in Warsaw. However, what he witnessed there, and elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc, served as an inspiration for Warszawa from the widely-acclaimed 1977 album Low.
In this episode, our hosts John and Nitzan will look deeper into the origins of this iconic song. Why was Bowie so fascinated with Eastern Europe and the nature of Cold War politics in the first place? How did the sights and sounds that Bowie witnessed during his brief time in Warsaw impact the song’s creation? What were the inspirations for the sonorous yet mysterious lyrics found in the song? And finally, our hosts will attempt to answer arguably the most perplexing question – is Warszawa even about Warsaw?Time stamps [03:30] How Bowie’s drug addiction led him to move to the centre stage of Cold War politics, West Berlin [04:12] The origins of Bowie’s new album and his collaboration with Brian Eno [07:20] How Bowie’s fear of flying led to his journey across the Soviet Union and his eventual stop in Warsaw [09:51] Bowie’s famous walk in Warsaw and how his experience inspired the melodious lyrics found in Warszawa [12:00] The creation of Warszawa’s ambient and mesmerising melody [14:25] The creation of Warszawa’s lyrics and how Bowie’s experience behind the Iron Curtain influenced these lyrics [17:03] How Low redefined Bowie’s musical career and impacted people on both sides of the Iron Curtain [19:19] Is Warszawa actually about Warsaw? Further reading
- How David Bowie Created Warszawa / on Culture.pl
- Did David Bowie Know Esperanto: The Invented Language of Warszawa and the Eastern European Story Behind It / on Culture.pl
- The Story Behind David Bowie’s Mythical Walk in Warsaw - Video / on Culture.pl
- Helibo Seyoman: A Tale of Two Cities / on Culture.pl
- Brian Eno / on Wikipedia.org
- Tony Visconti / on Wikipedia.org
- The Communist Regime in Poland in 10 Astonishing Pictures / on Culture.pl
- Warszawa (song) / on YouTube.com
- Tony Visconti's lecture for Red Bull Music Academy / on redbulmusicacademy.com
- Brian Eno's lecture for Red Bull Music Academy / on vimeo.com
- Low (full album) / on Spotify
Agata Pyzik / critic, writer, author of Poor but Sexy: Culture Clashes in Europe East and West. Agata kindly agreed to take us on a walk following the footsteps of David Bowie's visit to Warsaw and tell us the story of Warszawa's creation. You can get her book here.
Chris O'Leary / writer, editor, and journalist based in western Massachusetts, author of the Pushing Ahead of the Dame blog, devoted to analysrd himself reading several lines from his book Rebel Rebel. You can get his amazing book here.
The Culture.pl video team / for letting us use their recording of the walk with Agata Pyzik.
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller & Weronika Fay
Sep 13 2017
Rank #7: WOJCIECH
How Polish opposition activists began transmitting their own pirate radio and 'hacked' communist-run state TV. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain.
Wojciech Stawiszyński was an opposition activist, who suddenly found himself in charge of running Radio Solidarność, a mobile radio station that would be the voice of the pro-democracy Solidarity movement. Their success depended on a sophisticated game of cat and mouse with the authorities, with each broadcast taking place at a new location.
In the darkest period of martial law, they had to resort to incredibly complicated ways of operating, funding, broadcasting and even communicating with each other.
Did they make it through? Did they manage to outmaneuver the communist secret services? What happened when communism was gone? Find out in the latest episode of The Final Curtain.
Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter!Time stamps
[01:08] How Wojciech found himself in charge of the outlawed Radio Solidarność [03:50] How do you reach listeners when the secret police is on your back? [05:55] Radio Solidarność programme content [09:05] Outsmarting the communist regime with technology [14:35] Hardships and low points [16:42] How to live a dangerous dual life [20:36] Adjusting to capitalism after 1989Further reading
Written & produced by Wojciech Oleksiak Edited by Adam Zulawski Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Music by Blue Note Sessions Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
Aug 29 2019
Rank #8: CHRIS
How a photographer from London gave the rest of the world a glimpse of everyday life behind the Iron Curtain. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain.
The Polish-British photographer Chris Niedenthal found himself in the heart of Communist Poland in the 1970s and 80s, documenting both how ordinary people lived, as well as the major political events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet-backed regime.
His photographs ended up in major Western periodicals, such as Newsweek, Time, Der Spiegel and Forbes. Through his camera, he created a window into the Polish People's Republic for the rest of the world to peer through.
His iconic photograph of an armoured vehicle in front of a poster for the film ‘Apocalypse Now’, taken after martial law was declared in Poland, remains one of the defining images of the period – but how did he end up taking it, and what happened next?
Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter.Time stamps
[01:07] How he came to Poland [04:15] The election of John Paul II and how it changed Chris’ life [05:30] Martial law and Chris’ most iconic photo [10:04] Other revolutions Chris witnessed and photographed [12:59] How he happened to be the first photographer to shoot the fall of the Berlin Wall [16:00] What did Chris do after communism had ended?Further reading
ChrisNiedenthal.com // Chris's official website
Written & produced by Monika Proba Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski Music by Blue Dot Sessions & SIR HARDLY NOBODY (Chris Niedenthal's band)
Aug 23 2019
Rank #9: SIEGBERT
How an East German cameraman filmed the first major demonstrations in the GDR from the top of a church steeple in Leipzig. A month later, East Germany would effectively cease to exist. Part of our mini-series The Final Curtain.
Siegbert Schefke was officially unemployed after being fired from his job as a building engineer. Unofficially, he began to arrange for diplomats to smuggle videotapes from East Germany to be broadcast on West German TV stations. As it happens, most East Germans could also pick up Western TV on their receivers. Siegbert didn't really know how to use a video camera, but that didn't really matter, what mattered was that the world could see what was really going on behind the Wall.
How did Siegbert and his friend Aram Radomski end up filming the first major protest in the GDR on 9th October 1989? How did they outfox the Stasi and get the footage to the West? Find out in the newest episode of The Final Curtain.
Like our show? Sign up for our newsletter!Time stamps
[01:08] Born in the GDR [03:50] From part-time revolutionary to full-time revolutionary [06:22] Smuggling videotapes to the West [08:40] Foreign diplomats & secret codes [11:11] The Monday Demonstrations in Leipzig [14:27] Making history [18:22] The day the Berlin Wall fell [21:12] What next?Further reading
The Monday Demonstrations in East Germany // on Wikipedia
Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko Edited by Adam Zulawski & Wojciech Oleksiak Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Zulawski
Sep 06 2019
Rank #10: HUNT
During WWII, the Third Reich had a systematic policy of plundering artwork from countries they invaded. In occupied Poland, this took place on a massive scale. Over half a million individual works of art were taken over the course of the war, including countless national treasures.
But while some of these works of art were destined for the walls of high-ranking Nazi party officials and the planned Führermuseum, others were marked for destruction. In fact, there was one particular painting that the Germans were really keen to get rid of.
‘The Battle of Grunwald’ was painted by Jan Matejko in the late 19th century and portrayed a battle that had happened over 500 years ago, so why did the Third Reich want it gone so badly? And just how would it avoid being captured seeing as it was 10-metres long and weighed nearly a tonne?Time stamps
[00:58] How big is this painting then? [03:00] The evacuation begins [04:43] What makes this painting so wanted? [07:32] The journey continues and tragedy strikes [10:19] Time to hide this enormity somewhere safe... [14:48] ...with the hunt at its peak [16:09] The Germans are gone. What next? [18:20] Where is the painting today and is it worth seeing? [20:10] CreditsFurther watching / listening
- The Tale of the Battle of Grunwald / by the National Museum in Warsaw, on youtube.com (Polish Only)
- Hitler's Fuhrermuseum / by the Art Curious Podcast, an excellent episode about stolen art in WWII and Hitler's planned Fuhrermusem.
- The Battle of Grunwald Explained / on Culture.pl
- Jan Matejko's Battle of Grunwald / on Wikipedia.org
- The Battle of Grunwald (First Battle of Tannenberg) / on Wikipedia.org
- Nazi Plunder / on Wikipedia.org
Prof. Maria Poprzęcka / for talking to us about the history of the painting and its incredible war-time adventures. Poprzęcka is a professor of Art History at the University of Warsaw and presents an art history show on Polish Radio.
Piotr Lisowski / for talking to us about the painting and its restoration, and sharing with us its many secrets. Lisowski is a paintings conservator at the National Museum in Warsaw.
The National Museum in Warsaw / for their assistance.
John Beauchamp / for becoming Piotr Lisowski's English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.
Grażyna Soczewka / for becoming the voice of Maria Poprzęcka. Grażyna is head of the Artists & Works section at Culture.pl and is our go-to voice for many of our videos.Credits
Written & produced by Piotr Wołodźko
Edited by Adam Żuławski
Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
Feb 14 2019
Rank #11: NAKED
The German Democratic Republic was known for being one of the more politically repressive countries in the former Eastern bloc, with its Stasi secret police keeping a firm grip on any form of dissent. But it is also known for its long tradition of nude bathing – known in Germany as Free Body Culture or FKK. In the mid-1950s, this tradition came under threat as the GDR government tried to ban nude bathing completely.
Unexpectedly for a country that had no tolerance for dissent, the East German fans of Free Body Culture fought back…Time stamps
[00:19] Imagine it's the middle of summer [02:21] Train across the border [03:43] Meeting Dr Wolle [04:57] A bit of history [06:45] Lake Motzener [08:33] The 1930s & WWII [09:57] The birth of the DDR [12:39] FKK outlawed [15:07] Opening of the floodgates [17:13] Mass popularity [18:07] The Iron Curtain falls [20:00] Free Body Culture survives? [21:35] Conclusion [22:46] CreditsFurther watching
- 1976 News Report from an East German Beach (with Christmas Carols?!) / at mdr.de (Central German Broadcasting) CONTAINS NUDITY (in German)
- Freikorperkultur (Free Body Culture) explained / at Wikipedia.org
- Nudity in Germany: The Naked Truth / at CNN Travel
- Will Public Nakedness Fade Out in Germany? / at Citylab.com
- Love in the Time of Communism / book by Josie McLellan at Amazon.com. The chapter on FKK in East Germany was an invaluable resource in researching this topic.
Dr Stefan Wolle / for sharing with us his knowledge about the origins of Free Body Culture and its popularity in the former East Germany. Dr Wolle is the Head of the Research Department at the DDR Museum in Berlin.
Reinhard Gens / for inviting us to visit the AKK Birkenheide eV: FKK Verein (Birkenheide General Body Culture Association) at Lake Motzener, and for speaking to me about the history of FKK and his own experiences. Reinhard is retired and an FKK enthusiastic since the late 1950s.
Jürgen Krull / for inviting us to his club and talking to me about the history of FKK and Adolf Koch. Jurgen Krull is the President of the Familien-Sport-Verein Adolf Koch e. V. (Adolf Koch Family Sports Association) in Berlin.
Mark / for talking to us about this experiences with FKK. Mark is an FKK enthusiast and member of the Adolf Koch Family Sports Association.
The DDR Museum in Berlin / for their assistance. The DDR Museum is located in Central Berlin and is open 365 days a year.
Colin Delargy & Sabrina Schaffarczyk / for their linguistic assistance and helping Piotr navigate the Berlin FKK scene.
John Beauchamp / for becoming Dr Wolle's English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.Credits
Written, produced & presented by Piotr Wołodźko
Edited by Adam Żuławski
Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
Hosted by Nitzan Reisner & Adam Żuławski
Jan 17 2019
Rank #12: BULLETPROOF
Learn how a Polish monk created the first bulletproof vest and, in doing so, changed the world.
In 1897, at a public demonstration in Chicago, a man accomplished the unprecedented and seemingly physics-defying feat of stopping a bullet. After being shot with a revolver at close-range, and temporarily falling to the ground, the man was completely unscathed. That man, Kazimierz Żegleń, had succeeded in creating a vest that made him bulletproof.
In this episode, our hosts John and Lea discuss the man behind the vest, Kazimierz Żegleń, and the story of its creation. Who was Żegleń in the first place? How was he inspired to create a potentially life-saving vest and how did he manage to invent it? What was the immediate impact of this supposedly bulletproof vest? Did it save any lives? And finally, how has Żegleń’s invention influenced modern-day bulletproof vests?Time stamps [02:10] Introduction to Kazimierz Żegleń, creator of the bulletproof vest [03:33] Why would a monk become interested in durable materials? [05:00] How did Żegleń create his bulletproof vest? [08:10] How Żegleń’s daring public demonstration of vest his vest came to fruition? [10:45] How is silk even capable of stopping bullets? [12:45] Why Żegleń went to Europe and met the ‘Polish Edison’ [16:00] Did Żegleń manage to turn his invention into a commercial success? [18:25] Why was 1901 such an important year for bulletproof vests? [20:20] The legacy of Żegleń’s invention Further reading
- The Monk Who Stopped Bullets with Silk: Inventing the Bulletproof Vest / on Culture.pl
- Kazimierz Żegleń / on Wikipedia.org
- Jan Szczepanik / on Wikipedia.org
- Tailored to the Times – The Story of Kazimierz Żegleń Silk Bulletproof Vest / on Academia.edu
- Bulletproof vest / on Wikipedia.org
Sławomir Łotysz / professor at the Institute of the History of Science at the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw. Professor Łotysz kindly agreed to tell us the story of Kazimierz Żegleń, as well as provide us with lots of materials on Żegleń's inventions and biography. Professor Łotysz's research was made possible largely thanks to the generous support of the Chemical Heritage Foundation of Philadelphia.
Lisa Treynor / curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds, who kindly agreed to explain to us how on earth silk is capable of stopping bullets.
SFTEW Team: Wojciech Oleksiak, Adam Zulawski, Lea Berriault, John Beauchamp, Nitzan Reisner, Michael Keller & Barbara Rogala
Sep 07 2017
Rank #13: Rabbithole Two
In this bonus episode, you’ll get to hear a song that usually doesn’t leave the thick walls of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Italy.
Jan 14 2019
Rank #14: MESMERISED
The story of a man who mesmerised half a continent...
In 1989 the Cold War was coming to an end. Soviet Union and the whole Eastern Bloc were crumbling. There was confusion everywhere. One day, state television channel started showing something really strange. A man, looking like Doctor’s Spock muscly brother, was staring at the camera promising to programme people’s brains and free them from all the pain and suffering.
Who was he? Where did he come from? Did his methods have anything to do with medicine or science? Or, was he just another charlatan who profited from people’s insecurities in turbulent times? Listen to MESMERISED, a Stories From The Eastern West episode on the rise and fall of Anatoly Kashpirovsky, a man who mesmerised half a continent.
- A Common Madness / on bbk.ac.uk
- Anatoly Kashpirovsky, Russia’s New Rasputin / on TheGuardian.com
- A Psychic Healer Tried to Hypnotize Soviets to Distract from the Fall of Communism / on Atlas Obscura
- Memories from growing up in 1990s Poland / on Culture.pl
- Kashpirovsky wishing his Youtube followers a happy 2019 / on Youtube
- A 72-year-old Kashpirovsky lifting 245kg (540lb) / on Youtube
- The first full episode of Kashpirovsky’s TV show, 8th October 1989 / on Youtube
- Highlight footage of Kashpirovsky meeting with a live audience in 1989 / on Youtube
- Footage from the live operation on Lyubov Grabovskaya, 31st March 1988 / on Youtube
Żenia Klimakin / for recounting his meeting with Kashpirovsky from a few years back. Żenia is a journalist at Culture.pl/ru.
Krzysztof Rowiński / for delivering wonderful voice over for Żenia Klimakin to open and close this episode. Krzysztof is a PhD scholar in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Maria Litwin / for being resistant to Kashpirowsky's super powers and telling us what she saw, when nobody else was looking.
Polina Justova / for becoming the English voice of Maria Litwin. Polina is an editor for Culture.pl/ru and also works as a literary translator and language teacher.
Jan Morawicki / for helping us build a political perspective on those hectic times. Jan Morawicki was born in Saint Petersburg in Russia. He is a journalist and anthropologist working at the University of Łódź, Poland
Jerzy Oleksiak / for devoting his time to becoming Jan Morawicki’s English doppelganger. Jerzy is a former intern at Culture.pl, but now digs holes in the desert, looking for traces of extraterrestrial presence back in Ancient Egypt.
Romuald Polczyk / for explaining why hypnosis can actually work. Dr Polczyk works at the Institute of Psychology at the Jagiellonian University. He wrote his doctoral thesis on hypnosis.
John Beauchamp / for becoming Kashpirovsky’s dusty English voice. John is a seasoned radio journalist, currently working on Unseen Warsaw, a series of soundwalks located in Warsaw.
Zuzanna Grębecka / for helping us dig into the meanderings of Soviet pop culture and science. Dr. Grębacka works at the Institute of Polish Culture at the University of Warsaw.
Grażyna Soczewka / for becoming the voice of Zuzanna Grębecka. Grażyna is head of the Artists & Works section at Culture.pl and is our go-to voice for many of our videos. Marcin Kuropatwa / for inviting us into his childhood memories where Kashpirovsky was capable of anything. Marcin Kuropatwa is an ethnographer and a musician, and works for the National Museum of Ethnography in Warsaw.Credits
Written & produced by Monika Proba
Edited by Adam Żuławski
Scoring & sound design by Wojciech Oleksiak
Hosted by Adam Żuławski, Monika Proba & Nitzan Reisner
Jan 03 2019
Rank #15: CONTINUATION
After having to leave Poland, Grotowski continued his ground-breaking work in the United States, before finding a permanent home in Pontedera, Italy. There he began work on Art as Vehicle, the final stage of his work at the newly-established Workcenter. This work, based around songs of tradition and objective movements, arranged into performance structures, is done more or less in secrecy, away from the prying eyes of the media and mainstream theatrical world.
In the late 1990s, the Workcenter started to show its work to select groups of people, and open itself to the world. Listen to Part 2 of our episode on Jerzy Grotowski to find out for yourself what happened there, and what goes on at the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards today…
You can catch up with Part 1 of this story here. Both these episodes are a Stories From The Eastern West collaboration with the Theatre History Podcast, produced by Howlround Theatre Commons, a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide, based in Boston, Massachusetts. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.Time stamps
[01:15] Intro [02:26] Meeting Thomas Richards [04:19] Work on acting and songs of tradition [06:57] Period in the US coming to an end [08:28] Transmission of the work [09:34] Flight to Italy [11:00] Beginnings of the Workcenter [12:30] Who are we? [14:24] Members of the Workcenter [16:00] Sacrifices and controversies [18:06] Performance of The Living Room [22:02] Conclusion [24:30] Thanks & creditsFurther reading
- Jerzy Grotowski / biography at culture.pl
- Thomas Richards / biography at grotowski.net
- Brief History of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards on their official site
- At Work With Grotowski on Physical Actions / book by Thomas Richards, at amazon.com
- Heart of Practice: Within the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards / book by Thomas Richards, at Amazon.com
- Teksty Zebrane (Collected Texts) / complete texts of Jerzy Grotowski at Empik.com (Polish and Italian only)
- Jerzy Grotowski / book by James Słowiak and Jairo Cuesta, an excellent introduction to his ideas and practice as a theatre director, at Amazon.com
- The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards / official site of the Workcenter in Pontedera, Italy
- Jerzy Grotowski Institute / official site of the Wrocław-based institute
Prof. Paul Allain / for talking to us about Grotowski's life, work, and his important influence on the world of the performing arts. Paul is a Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent and former director of the British Grotowski Project.
Maja Komorowska / for sharing with us her experience of working with Grotowski and the Theatre of the 13 Rows in the early 1960s. Maja is an acclaimed theatre, film and television actress.
Thomas and Cécile Richards / for giving their time and helping make this episode possible. Thomas Richards is the Director of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Pontedera, Italy. Cecile is Richard’s assistant and a member of the centre.
The members of the Workcenter in Pontedera / especially Lynda Mebtouche and former member of the Open Program Alejandro Thomas-Rodriguez for sharing their experiences.
Grażyna Soczewka / for skillfully providing the English voice-over for Maja Komorowska.Episode credits
Michael Lueger (Theatre History Podcast): co-presenter
Wojciech Oleksiak: sound design, mixing
Piotr Wołodźko: co-presenter, script, production
Nitzan Reisner: co-host, sole beacon of light
Adam Zulawski: co-host, editor
Dec 20 2018