"What are you doing here?", and I said, "I'm an actor!" [interview with Maciej Góraj]
Maciej Góraj was a promising actor. He was fascinated by the character of Zbyszek Cybulski, played scenes with Marek Kondrat, appeared in the films of Wajda and Morgenstern. Despite this, he left Poland at the peak of his career and never returned. In an interview with Maja Baczyńska, he tells why.
Maja Baczyńska: You left in the breakthrough year 1989.
Maciej Góraj: Yes, after the film serial, where I earned so much that – if not for inflation – I could buy a polonez. I was not politically involved, I had two children in Poland, but my marriage was not going well. It all influenced me in such a way, that I found myself in “Hollywood”.
It was not an easy decision.
In the USA, I tried everything, including marketing. I was even curing people with the sound of Tibetan bowls, I graduated from a massage school. The latter, until the regulations changed, and now I only professionally massage my wife.
Have you requalified again?
I currently teach the analysis of financial needs.
And the movie, the theater...?
Upon my arrival, we played “Miss Julia” in 1992, a Polish performance that was very well received. There is no theater as such here. Actors create the theater. The level is high. However, recently we organized the 1st Congress of Chicago Theaters at the Polish Museum. We would like it to become a tradition.
Do you play on stage?
I have recently worked on “Love Games”. I was very excited about it, this performance touches everything that is related to love in the modern world, deeper than other performances I know. We even have an idea to go to Poland with this spectacle.
Why should the viewers in Poland watch it?
I have various, also difficult personal experiences behind me, they made me think a lot. The main character of “Love Games” would like to stop her love, for this she uses some manipulation. Of course, it is best for love to end in marriage, family... but something deeper is needed for that.
On the one hand, everything is constantly changing, on the other, there is a need for something permanent. You met love in exile.
It began at the age of twenty-several years in Poland. It returned also years later in the Polish Museum in Chicago. We met here at a performance.
Isn't it so that after some experiences, some difficult life trials, we can sometimes find a common ground with someone else?
Yes, but we needed time. For two years, we were saying goodbye to our past. Of course I had contact with my children in Poland all the time, today I have also four grandchildren. But there was a time when I felt a lot of stress about separation and started using various relaxation methods on myself to deal with it, including relaxation with the sound of bowls, tai chi, yoga etc. I have always been interested in how other religions work, so I got to the Buddhists and the philosophers in Chicago.
Let's get back to art. Do you feel that you have your audience here?
Yes, some are coming back. When we were playing “Christmas Eve”, we ran out of chairs! But even when fewer viewers come, it does not mean we do not have satisfaction.
Even one spectator is enough?
Yes, if she or he appreciates and receives what we do.
And how does it work in the business sense? Especially in such a place like the United States?
The actors must do everything by themselves. They must be self-sufficient. We usually live from other jobs. Although I am a pensioner, I still work.
And you still find time for the theater.
When we played “Miss Julia” a long time ago, I was going to two jobs. To be able to practice the text, I used to hide in a nearby shop and was training there. For three days, I had not attracted anyone's attention. And finally, the started looking at me and asking: “What are you doing here?” And I said, “I'm an actor!”
Polish version HERE