Michał Borczuch was born on June 2, 1979 in Krakow. Initially, he studied at the Faculty of Graphic Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts. He is a graduate of the Ludwik Solski Academy of Dramatic Arts in Krakow at the Faculty of Direction. His debut was Małgorzata Owsiany’s “COMPOnents” played at the Stary Theatre in 2005. When studying theatre direction he was an assistant to Krystian Lupa working with him at Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”, which premiered at Theater an der Wien in 2006. For a year Borczuch worked with Patrice Chéreau within the framework of the grant program The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. On three occasions he was nominated for Paszport POLITYKI, the most important weekly magazine in Poland.
The committee of Paszport POLITYKI justified their choice in the following way: “a sensibility that lets him create amazing new worlds that are unobvious, surprising, yet always very personal, as well as his unique way of working with actors, which results in equally unique creations verging on buffoonery and painful exposure”. Michał Borczuch made performances i.a. with socially disabled children and autistic people. “You’d Better Not Go There” (2013) was made partly with participation of children from an Orphanage in Szamocin, who created scenography, lights, and audio-visual materials for the performance. Their child perspective allowed for a description of capitalism of the Polish peripheries. In “Paradiso” (2014), theatrical dialogue between professional actors and amateurs with various stages of autism changed into a humanistic parable surprising with its novelty.
In 2007 the public opinion started using the phrase “Borczuch’s actors”. In Frank Wedekind’s “Lulu” Marta Ojrzyńska created the character of an underage prostitute, without shocking with pathological sexuality. The first time in Poland Borczuch used an uncensored version of Wedekind’s play, yet he preserved detachment towards its naturalistic story. In “Werther” (2009), Krzysztof Zarzecki created a character of a spectre from Goethe’s epistolary novel. The life attitude of the Romantic hero becomes here a ridiculed, empty pose, preserving the existential experience of “a man without qualities” and that of an outsider at the same time.
In 2009 Michał Borczuch directed in Warsaw Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Inspired with camp aesthetics, the director created a portrait of the contemporary generation of metropolitan 30-year-olds. Realised at Warsaw’s TR, the performance was to prove the come back of one of the most important theatres in Poland. In 2010 “The metaphysics of a two-headed calf” by S. I. Witkiewicz was made. At the time, Aneta Kyzioł wrote in POLITYKA: “If Witkacy’s ‘Tropical Madness’ directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna in the same theatre 13 years before was a portrait of the decline of the world of values and the birth of chaos, ‘The Metaphysics of a Two-Headed Calf’ shows the consequences of that process for the next generation”.
The year 2012 brought Michał Borczuch’s debute at the Schauspielhaus Theatre in Duesseldorf. The director showed there Svetlana Alexievich’s “War’s Unwomanly Face“, whose characters are women soldiers fighting for their homeland in high heels. For this project, the director invited Tomasz Śpiewak, who worked on dramaturgy. This work resulted subsequently in their “Quay West. Return to the Desert” by Bernard-Marie Koltes (2013) – a performance aiming to shake the viewers out of their rhythm and their habits. In his earlier “Hans, Dora, and the Wolf” (2012) Borczuch “made a direct attack on the contemporary culture of ‘analysis’ shaped by Sigmund Freud” (Joanna Wichowska).
As a scholarship winner of The Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative (a program for the most talented young artists from all around the world) Borczuch succeeded in building a partnership with Patrice Chéreau, a French film and theatre director. The two artists, different in their approach to the text and in the way they structure the story, found a common denominator in their exploration of the nature and aims of theatre as art. At the end of the programme Borczuch, as one of seven selected artists from all around the world, presented in Venice sketches for his staging of “Apocalypse” that later premiered in Nowy Theatre in Warsaw (2014). The characters include Pier Paolo Pasolini, Oriana Fallaci and Kevin Carter – great but at the same time petty critics of culture and society in which they lived and died.
Borczuch avoids great narratives and the so-called “important problems”. He sticks to the spheres of everyday life and to privacy. He explores issues of death, weakness, and self-destruction; he maintains an ironic perspective, believes ugliness rather than beauty, yet stays away from all kinds of dogmatism in this respect.