Binge Fringe Magazine

INTERVIEW: A Digital Pint with… AST Cracow, burning ‘Ashes’ at Prague Fringe 2023

Today we’re joined for a pixelated pilsner by Director Stanisław Chludziński, Actor Filip Lipiecki and Scenographer Maciej Mirocha to discuss all things Ashes at Prague Fringe. The trio are bringing the show to Prague from the Akademia Sztuk Teatralnych (National Academy of Theatre Arts) in Poland, and asking questions all about loss, life, and what to say at your Mother’s funeral when you’re used to making people laugh for a living. We wanted to know more about the earnest nature of the piece, so we sat down to chat all things grief ahead of the show’s arrival in Prague at the end of the month.

Catch Ashes at Prague Fringe between May 22nd and 24th at Divadlo Inspirace (times vary by day). Tickets are available through the Prague Fringe Box Office.

Hi guys! So ‘Ashes’ is all about personal loss and how, if at all, we can build it into our personal lives. What inspired the piece and how was it creating something comedic out of a deeply traumatic emotion?

Our inspiration came from the show Bojack Horseman. It turned out that both me and Filip love the show, especially the episode in which Bojach speaks at the funeral of his mother. When we met to write up the script, we opened up to one another on a personal basis and we realized that although we were still young we already had to deal with traumatic loss. Whether it is the death of a family member, close friend or even a forgotten relationship, human beings need time to heal their wounds. People try various rituals to increase the speed of the healing process. We believe that a funeral, which is deeply rooted in religious practices, is an example of such a ritual. We also realized that the funeral in Poland and generally a way that we deal with pain is grief and prolonged times of sadness. We exhibit our pain to the world in every way possible.

The rituals differ in their form and approach across the world. In South America during the Day of the Dead people dance, drink and sing. They create a joyful event, spending time with their close ones that have passed as if they were still very much alive. That is why we decided to use humor as a way to cope with loss. We also decided that contact with the dead is a better approach than closing off and trying to forget about them. You will see Witek on stage trying this method to handle trauma and trying to deal with all the family mess that was made up through all these years.

The piece is inspired somewhat by the ‘Free Churro’ episode of Bojack Horseman, here in Ashes, Witek gives a speech at his mother’s funeral. What about Bojack inspired elements of the piece and how are you hoping the audience relates to it?

Even though our piece is only inspired by the show Bojack Horseman we really hope the audience will find joy in seeing the some of the mutual elements, which will appear in the performance, but in a slightly altered, rearranged form. Our aim was to be inspired by the format, the convention that Bojack presents in ‘Free Churro’ rather than to copy the content, which is completely different for us.

The show contains comedy, poetry and drama – how was it balancing those and how do you hope those elements synthesise together?

The balance of comedy and drama was quite difficult to maintain for our actor Filip Lipiecki. We had run throughs in which the comedy side of it was more vibrant and people laughed through most of the show. On the other hand we had performances that underlined the dramatic moments and people in the audience cried relating to the problems of our hero. Obviously the best performances took place when Filip managed to jump from the comedic to dramatic instantly. We really hope we won’t fall from the walking on the thin line. Poetry is another ritual that is added on top of our dramatic structure as a new layer for dealing with loss and trauma. The combination of all the forms accounts for a great structure in terms of dramaturgy.

Now that we’re gearing up for Prague Fringe, what are you most excited for?

We are most excited to see the other shows that are invited from all over the world. Visiting the beautiful city of Prague is also definitely a perk 🙂

Given the themes of Binge Fringe, if your show was a beverage of any kind (alcoholic, non-alcoholic – be as creative as you like!), what would it be and why?

Bojack was a whiskey lover so I think our show would be a whiskey on the rocks – a smoky taste with a fruity finish.

Jake Mace

Our Lead Editor & Edinburgh Editor. Jake loves putting together novel-length reviews that try to heat-seek the essence of everything they watch. They are interested in New Writing, Literary Adaptations, Musicals, Cabaret, and Stand-Up. Jake aims to cover themes like Class, Nationality, Identity, Queerness, and AI/Automation.

Festivals: EdFringe (2018-2023), Brighton Fringe (2019), Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Prague Fringe (2023), Dundee Fringe (2023)
Pronouns: They/Them