The main protagonist of the documentary film debut by Sławomir Batyra is the Grand Theatre in Warsaw. We watch it from a totally different perspective than the one of the "ordinary" viewers, we look behind the scenes of the preparations for the performance of "Madame Butterfly," directed by Mariusz Treliński. Our guides in this unusual journey are the people connected with this place (technical staff, members of the orchestra, opera singers). Each of them appears at least for a moment, some of them for a longer time, such as the stage manager, some of them for a shorter time. Each of them is an integral part of the great organism.

In his film, Batyra treats the theatre as a macrocosm, a separate planet, consisting of innumerable elements, bigger and smaller details. The first scene is preceded by a quote from one of the most well-known autos by Calderon de la Barca, "The Great Theater of the World": This earthly ball / Let unfold, for there of all / That is done, the scene must be. Later, the largest opera hall in the world is revealed to us. We approach it without unnecessary haste, step by step, corridor after corridor, room after room. Our movement is accompanied by a blaze of diverse sounds and images. The film by Batyra is a documentary symphony, which has its own unique rhythm.

Real art is born before our very eyes: the stage design is being assembled, costumes are being sewn, large ramps are being set in motion. Tearing off the curtain and showing what happens behind the scenes does not, however, mean breaking the magic of theatre. The world, presented by Batyra, is no less interesting or fascinating than the one on the stage.    

"The Great Theatre" is a cinematic mosaic. Watching it, we have the impression that we commune with a finished work of art, incredibly well-thought-out and full of specific kind of drama, captured by an extremely watchful eye.

Daniel Stopa