From Krakow to Burque With Love

Nasze Miasto / Our City at Theatre X

I first fell in love with Krakow in 1998. I was living in Prague and had taken a night train with a roommate to the southern Polish city to check it out, and also to go to the town of Oświęicm, or as the Germans called it, Auschwitz. The latter was an experience that's still hard to quantify, but the city of Krakow affected me just as much. I went back in 2005 to study Polish for six weeks at Jagellonian University. I did really well and aced my beginner's course, even getting to the point where I was having conversations with natives (about things that are nice, like cake and music, but still). And then I came back to America and it all fell out of my head.

Nasze Miasto / Our City addresses some of these very themes. Wanderlust, falling in love with foreignness, the difficulty of being in a place where even simple things (how to hold a fork, which side people pass on) are different. The essential concept of this piece, a collaboration between members of Tricklock and Krakow's Teatr Figur, is that one person's foreign land is another person's home, and surely we can come together in that.

There is language in this work, in both Polish and English, but it's used sparingly. The majority of the action occurs in pantomime, both in front of and behind three white screens. Now this is important: what ever you think that means, what you'll see is something different. Music, lights, shadow puppets, choreography--they're all used to a surprising and satisfying extent. I've been trying to think of the perfect word to describe this, and I keep landing on "charming," though that doesn't quite capture the headiness of it. Perhaps there's a word in Polish.

The six actors, four from Krakow and two from Albuquerque, work together as a tight ensemble. The audience was impressed by the hour-long show. On a personal level, it filled me with longing. I can only describe it as homesickness, but in reverse. A desire not to return to the familiar, but to make familiar the foreign. I have to think we've all felt that, and though Krakow may not be the focus of your own wanderwant (I just made that up), Nasze Miasto's looping desires and searches are recognizable to all.

Catch the show during its next two performances: Sat., Jan. 16, at 8 p.m. and Sun., Jan. 17, at 2 p.m. at UNM's Theatre X. For tickets, call 925-5858 or go to unmtickets.com. Check out this week's feature in the Alibi for more more more.