In 1957 Plucińska’s crew joined a travelling theatre company. She decided to ground her film story in the distinction between high culture and mass entertainment. As the short claims, the overall interest in conventional theatre performances couldn’t match that in popular culture shows and travelling actors dropped to the bottom of the funding priorities. Aiming to resolve this situation, the documentary demonstrates problems with promoting theatre in villages, where unrefined tastes of audiences determine their choices of performances.
To set the scene, Plucińska opens with shots of the box office in the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. We see ‘sold out’ stickers attached to posters advertising rock’n’roll dance shows.
The next cut takes us to a small town, where a popular production, Atom Sex Bomb plays to a packed auditorium. The voice-over mocks the show’s actors, its ‘cheap’ writing and its viewers. A few days later, the same venue hosts soloists from the National Philharmonic Orchestra. The audience is much smaller and the narrator is quick to point out that the piano plays out of tune and the room hasn’t even been heated.
Then the camera spots a bus with branding for the Mazovian Theatre/Teatr Ziemi Mazowieckiej. In the following few scenes, we observe its actors who, according to the voice-over, are the real deal. They perform for smaller local audiences in the evenings and travel through the night to reach the next town or village. When we see them sitting on the bus, they appear exhausted.
As the camera pauses on a close-up of one of the women’s faces, the narrator asks: ‘What are you thinking about?’ This question serves as an excuse for the filmmaker to show drawings of prototypes of theatre trailers that would house changing rooms and small bedrooms.
When we return to the bus, the camera remains focused on individual faces. The narrator delivers his final mini-lecture on the popularity of kitsch shows and the lack of funding for real art. Posters advertising concerts and comedy plays illustrate his remarks dismissing the popular culture. In the end, he calls for a revision of cultural politics and for the introduction of special taxes to support the central theatre fund.