The oldest drama academy in Warsaw, focused on education for professional actors was opened in 1811 by Wojciech Bogusławski. A direct predecessor of the capital Academy of Drama was Państwowy Instytut Sztuki Teatralnej (PIST; The National Institute of Theatre Art) founded in 1932. It included The Acting Department, conducted by Aleksander Zelwerowicz (the first director of PIST) and The Directing Department, run by Leon Schiller.
Academy of Drama
Soon after World War Two was over, The National Institute of Theatre Arts (PIST) was reactivated in Łódź and was named Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna (The State Academy of Drama) with Schiller as the rector. Whereas in Warsaw Aleksander Zelwerowicz (first related to PIST) organized a competitive college which was finally called Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Aktorska (The State Actor’s Academy). In 1950 both Academies united into Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna (PWST: The State Academy of Drama) which functioned in the capital city of Warsaw. Jan Kreczmar became the Rector of the Academy. In 1955 special celebrations marked the naming of the Academy after Aleksander Zelwerowicz. In 1962 PWST got academic status. In 1996 due to Parliamentary law it received a new title: The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art.
The Collegium Nobilium Theatre
In September 1999 The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw opened The Collegium Nobilium Theatre. The architectural elements of the theatre refer to the preserved plans and descriptions of a convict theatre, designed and built by the royal designer Jakub Fontana in the years 1743-1750. Presently, students’ performances (mainly productions) compose constant cultural offer for the citizens of Warsaw and tourists.
Mission & Methods
Acting according to principles of freedom of education, artistic creation and scientific research, and the respect for cultural heritage, the Academy educates students in the spirit of truth, humanism, patriotism and tolerance. It prepares students for the active and responsible participation in cultural life of The Republic of Poland.
Half a century history of the Academy has been a permanent aspiration for improving the means of education and a constant searching for the most adequate methods of training in a dialogue with reality facing the challenge not only in the field of art but also in the sphere of transmission technics of new media.
There have been also doubts: between an isolation of the Academy and its relation to theatre, which cannot be avoided irrespective of theoretical postulates and declarations; between a narrow specialization or practical proficiency and a board interdisciplinary knowledge. Since there are not any patterns in such a delicate field as art, one has to work them out using an empirical method. As a result one can gain well-earned victories but also suffer inevitable defeats.
Nevertheless, numerous graduates of the Academy speak the best for its educational success. Final exam spectacles often announce individual careers in the future and they gain great popularity of an audience as well as approval of the jury at international festivals where they have been awarded. The Academy is also engaged in scientific life of the country undertaking researches and organizing scientific symposiums concerning the history of theatrical education.