Poland’s Got Talent!

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There you go. Another talented person. Don’t you just hate them? I would, if only the ones here weren’t all so fucking humble and nice and likeable.

I did a show recently called ‘The Teacher,’ a comedy where a student learning English undergoes a complete 180 and gets to teach Polish to an idiotic Irishman. Cue lots of laughs as idiot Irishman asphyxiates himself trying to say the days of the week in a language that’s the verbal equivalent of being rugby tackled by a giant lesbian.

Move past the laughs though and the real star was my co-actor, Zosia Sznajder, a young lady of such extraordinary acting talent that it’s hard to believe she’s not a bitch, as almost every good performer can be divided into one of two categories; pricks and bitches. Not Zosia. She’s got it – ‘it’ – the ability to reach deep into a vast unquantifiable reservoir of emotion and weave it into that most difficult of qualities – sympathy, and make an audience care. If she wants to, she could be the Polish actress of your generation.

She probably won’t as she doesn’t possess the burning, monstrous desire to be ‘famous’ at all costs. Without exception, any actor who struts and frets upon the big or small screen will have done anything to get there, up to and including bludgeoning Japanese children to death with a copy of James Joycye’s Finnegans Wake.

Zosia’s case would warrant a column all to herself if humble talent wasn’t so thick on the ground in Silesia. There’s a serious amount of people here who are seriously good at things and they’re all so relaxed about it. How is this? How is the young girl in my building, whose name I don’t even know and probably never will know, one of the best skiers in Poland for her age? What? The girl who wanders around the park with her pet rabbit that I’ve nearly killed several times while cycling? Her? Yes.

Or the former waitress in my favourite café, Marta, who’s on the Polish National snowboarding team, but hates talking about it. Or my wife’s younger cousin, Ania who sang at her sister’s wedding and everyone stopped to listen because the sheer power in her lungs was enough to make you take notice the way you do when thunder is unleashed and you feel you are close to something awesome.

The only thing more shocking than Ania’s Florence Welch-like vocal ability was both her and her family’s indifference to it. But coming from a long line of Math and Engineering gurus as she does, performance talent is frowned on, as if it were a curse bestowed on her by fate, like a really bad stammer, or an over-active thyroid gland, her aunts and uncles tutting and shaking their heads wishing poor Ania had been born instead with the ability to build a hydro-electric dam or a robot who makes perfect beetroot soup.

Or what about Judo champion Bronislaw Wolkowicz who’s constantly wandering around the gym I go to? Or Marcin Wrodarczyk who makes bikes in his spare time. The guy has a full-time job, but still finds time to create these off-the-charts super-cycles on par with anything the big hipster shitheads in Portland or Oregon are knocking off. I look on his bikes as the equivalent to owning a piece of art, that’s what they are – in twenty years time, I’ll be pontificating at a cocktail party saying how I own several ‘Wrodarcyk’s’. Again, he treats his gift as a matter of course, like flowers in spring or teenage pregnancies in families with no dominant father-figure.

There are talented people in every country, but it’s so downright weird to routinely bump into them here. Like all talentless people, I want to hate them, I want to be them and every time I meet them I want to wish them well.

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