Artist Interview with Mikolaj Chrobot
Please introduce us to you and your creative practise(s).
My name is Miko Chrobot and I am a theatre and film director, writer, drag artist and an all round maker of all things theatre and queer.
Was there anything pivotal or important that has led you to your creative practise?
I didn’t come from an artistic background, my family never had anything to do with the arts and for most of my childhood I was expected to become a lawyer. But as a gay man growing up in a conservative, ultra-catholic country like Poland I always loved stories. They were my way out of a reality that didn’t welcome me and I participated in every school play I could. When I was going to university I chose to study film in London, to many people’s surprise. At uni I kept doing theatre and got involved in the directing side of things for the first time. At the same time, I was becoming more comfortable with my queerness. Making theatre became a way of liberating myself and exploring the world in a way that was free of shame.
Is there a voice or narrative you wish to promote in your work?
In my work, I am particularly drawn to LGBTQIA+ narratives, as well as other marginalised voices. They are the ones who actually have something interesting to say! I’ve always been interested in dramatic structures and love to shape my work in a way that subverts the traditional, hetro/cis-normative three act structure. I believe that this is very important, because the way we structure our stories shapes our expectations of the structure our lives should take. But many people’s experience doesn’t fit neatly into three acts, beginning-middle-end shape. Thankfully, life is more interesting than that! At the same time, I wouldn’t say that I wish to “promote a queer voice or narrative”. That’s because a singular queer voice doesn’t exist. There are as many queer voices as there are queer people. I believe that every artist needs to speak first and foremost with their own voice. Only then they can truly inspire others to use their true voices. (As a certain obscure, niche drag queen once said “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you’re gonna love somebody else”).
Who inspires you and why, and how do you incorporate this into your own work?
There are quite a few artists and people who inspire me and I could never list them all. But one person who comes to mind first is Dominic Cooke, a British theatre director. His shows are often about tragedies of self-delusion and that is something very difficult to ask your actors to do. Acting is all about discovering what the character wants. But with Dominc’s productions it’s about what the character wants but pretend not to want. It’s that divergence that’s usually the source of conflict in his shows.This adds a whole new layer of complexity to the characters and the drama of the story and allows to avoid stereotypical and simplistic portrayals of scenes and situations. It also disrupts the typical story structure. I always ask myself who the characters in the play are pretending to be, who are they posing as, what are they hiding etc. It makes things much more interesting.
Finally, what are your aspirations / why do you do what you do / why is it important?
I do what I do because we need stories to become who we really are and not who society or other people want us to be.