Monday, July 30, 2018

Hollywood Bowl on August 23 and Polish Theater on September 1, 2018

We are delighted to inform all members and guests of the Helena Modjeska Culture Club about the election of the new board (see the names of the new Board of Directors on the Board page - link above) and about our plans for the summer and autumn of 2018. The club will organize receptions with prominent guests, in the form of exclusive meetings held only for club members in private residences (at least four per year), and public events - concerts, film screenings or lectures, including Polish-themed performances or concerts of other organizations (up to eight times per year). For these concerts or performances, the Club will offer free or discounted tickets to its members.

We are starting our 2018-2019 season with two events shared with others - Chopin Piano Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl on August 23 and Polish Theater from Toronto on September 1. Deadlines for RSVP are coming up shortly.


The selection of Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 (with Sergio Tiempo, piano solo) and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 5 makes up a lovely summer program. The long intermission of over 30 minutes gives time to talk and party - bring your own picnic basket and wine! Low-price tickets are available to groups, so the Club may make a reservation for at least 20 people to sit together in one section of the enormous auditorium and enjoy music under the stars (with the addition of helicopters and coyote howling at times).

Club reservations will be taken to August 1, email Maja Trochimczyk, The concert is free to members who will RSVP in time,
by August 1, 2018.


"Tamara de Lempicka" based on a biography of a famous Polish painter. Modjeska Club members are encouraged to attend and meet-up at this event, sponsored by Club PAPA of Orange County.  Curtis Theater City of Brea,  1 Civic Center,  Brea, CA, tickets $35.   

Club members receive discount of $15 and pay $20 per ticket. RSVP to be on the discount list to by August 15, 2018 AND make reservations for the actual tickets with Club PAPA at the same time - to Darek Swiatkowski at We do not purchase tickets, only subsidize club members's tickets by making a one-time payment to Club PAPA for the pre-registered Modjeska Club members. 

Dormeuse by Tamara de Lempicka

Interview with Dr Jan Iwanczyk, physicist, winner of the 2018 Award "Eminent Pole/ Wybitny Polak" - in a private residence in Brentwood, for Club members only.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Modjeska Club's Patron - Helena Modrzejewska

Portrait of Helena Modrzejewska by Tadeusz Ajdukiewicz, 1880 (fragment).
Helena Modjeska (Modrzejewska) was a Shakespearean actress born in Krakow, Poland, on October 12, 1840 (as Jadwiga Benda); who emigrated to California in 1870s, settled on an estate in Orange County (that she called Arden) and died in Newport Beach, California, on April 8, 1909.  The following biographical entry is written by Krystyna Cap for The Polish American Encyclopedia, edited by James Pula and published by McFarland in 2011. Used by permission. For more information about the Encyclopedia visit McFarland Publishing website.

Helena Modjeska in her roles as  Barbara Radziwillowna (1867).
Vintage postcard published in Poland. Wikimedia Commons.

Although her paternity has been contested by claims that Modjeska was  illegitimately fathered by Prince Wladyslaw Sanguszko, Jadwiga Benda (later christened Helena Opid), was born into a family that traveled in artistic circles. Despite their relative poverty,  from a young age Modjeska was influenced by her adopted musician father, Michal, and his  literary and artistic friends. In 1861 Modjeska married Gustave Sinnmayer Modrzejewski, who  had supervised her early education and promoted her fledgling acting career. In the same year  she made her first onstage appearance in a one-act comedy named The White Camellia.

Modjeska as Juliet

 After her husband died in 1866, she continued her career in Poland, remarrying in 1868. Her second husband, Count Karol Bozenta Chlapowski, was a well-known Polish patriot and  journalist. Throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s, she continued to receive critical   acclaim for her various roles on the Warsaw stage. In the years prior to emigration, she and her husband briefly traveled to Krakow, where Chlapowski published a partisan journal and where Helena became active in Polish politics. Upon return to Warsaw, the radical nationalist position held by both Modrzejewska and Chlapowski resulted in increasing harassment by Russian authorities, and led the pair to leave Warsaw for America in 1876. Thus she migrated to California with her son from her first marriage, Ralph (later a well-respected civil engineer; Ralph Modjeski), her husband Count Chlapowski, and a handful of Polish friends and colleagues, including Julian Sypniewski and Henryk Sienkiewicz.

Modjeska's home "Arden" in Silverado Canyon, Orange County in 1910 (vintage postcard) 

Ewa Boryczko as Modjeska and Maja Trochimczyk in Arden (2011) The property is a Historic Home
owned by Orange County  and partly supported by the Helena Modjeska Foundation.

Modrzejewska and her husband purchased a twenty-acre farm near Anaheim, established a ranch there, and with their Polish friends, intended to found a utopian Polish farming colony. When plans  failed owing to a lack of agricultural knowledge (and lacking the funds to return home),  Modjeska traveled to San Francisco, where she began English language lessons with the intention   of returning to the stage. Not long after, with the assistance of several Poles resident in San Francisco, she approached Barton Hill and John McCullough of the California Theater for a role. It was McCullough who suggested that she shorten her name to Modjeska to make it easier for American audiences to pronounce. On August 20, 1877, Modjeska made her American debut in San Francisco in an Ernest Legouve and A. E. Scribe play, Adrienne Lecouvreur.  Achieving critical acclaim for her successive roles, including Ophelia and Juliet, she soon began touring American stages in a variety of roles, appearing in Boston, Buffalo, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York, and elsewhere.

 In 1878 Modjeska briefly toured theaters in Russian Poland and traveled to England in 1880. Upon her return to America in 1882, she produced and starred in a version of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House. In America, Modjeska became famous chiefly for her portrayal of several Shakespearean roles, including Juliet, Desdemona, Rosalind, Queen Anne, and Ophelia. In May 1893, she was invited to speak at an international conference at the Chicago World's Fair, where she delivered a stirring speech on the status of Polish women, uttering several highly patriotic remarks regarding the injustice of  Poland's eighteenth-century partitions. In Russia her speech met with the ire of Tsarist authorities, who issued an ukase prohibiting her from ever returning to Russian Poland.

Modjeska as Marie Antoinette.

After spending over 20 years on her beloved estate, Arden, in Silverado Canyon, Orange County, California (see the photographs above), Modjeska died in 1909 at her home on Bay Island in Newport Beach, California; however,  Chlapowski buried her remains in Krakow, Poland. One year later, her memoirs were published in  America and thereafter translated into Polish. Throughout her career, Modjeska played  in over 225 towns and cities throughout the United States and Canada.

Modjeska as Ophelia

In popular culture, Modjeska inspired Susan Sontag's novel, In America (1999), which was awarded the National Book Award. Sontag's novel was based on Modjeska's life after emigration and came under public scrutiny for allegedly having plagiarized passages from Modjeska's  own memoir and other biographical sources. A small collection of primary and secondary materials on Modjeska's career in Poland and the United States is housed in the Special Collections and Archives of the University of California, Irvine. 

Map of Arden - Home of Modjeska in Modjeska Canyon, OC.


  • This entry by Krystyna Cap is reprinted from The Polish American Encyclopedia, edited by  James Pula, McFarland Publishing, 2011. Used by Permission.  More information about the Encyclopedia  is here.
  • Ellen K. Lee,  "The Catholic Modjeska," Polish American Studies, Vol. 31, no. 1 (1974), 20-27
  • "Helena Modjeska," in Charles H. Shattuck, ed.,  Shakespeare on the American Stage: From Booth and Barrett to Sothern and Marlowe  (London: Associated University Presses, 1987), Vol. 2, 125-36  
  • Arthur P. Coleman and Marion Moore Coleman, Wanderers Twain: Modjeska and      Sienkiewicz. A View of California (Cheshire: Cherry Hill Books, 1964) 
  • Marion Moore Coleman, Fair Rosalind: The American Career of Helena  Modjeska  (Sheshire: Cherry Hill Books, 1969) 
  • Antoni Gronowicz, Modjeska: Her Life and Loves (New York: Thomas Yoseloff,  1956)
  • Helena Modjeska, Memories and Impressions of Helena Modjeska: An   Autobiography (New York: Benjamin Blom, 1969) 
  • Beth Holmgren, "Virility and Gentility: How Sienkiewicz and Modjeska Redeemed   America," The Polish Review, Vol. 46, no. 3 (2001), 283-96
  • Beth Holmgren, Starring Madame Modjeska: On Tour in Poland and America (Indiana University Press, 2011)
  • Susan Sontag, In America (Faber and Faber, 2000)


  • Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles

  • Helena Modjeska Foundation (Orange County)

  • Helena Modjeska Society (Orange County)

  • Arden - Modjeska Historic House (Orange County)

  • Modjeska Playhouse Theater in Orange County

  • Modjeska Woman Triumphant - Documentary

  • Portrait of Modjeska by Ajdukiewicz, 1880, Sukiennice Gallery, Krakow, Poland.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Barbara Krafftowna Receives the 2012 Modjeska Prize

    The renowned Polish actress Barbara Krafftówna is the recipient of our 2012 Modjeska Prize. The eminent actress who started her career in 1946 is celebrated for hundreds of theater, film and TV theater roles in Poland and California. She is recognized as a specialist in the theater of the absurd (Witkacy, Gombrowicz) and is beloved for her performances in cabaret, including the legendary Kabaret Starszych Panow.

    The presentation of the Prize will take place at the Opening Gala of the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles on October 9, 2012. The Modjeska Club members will then attend a special reception and an interview with the star scheduled for October 13, 2012 at a private residence in Los Angeles.

    Krafftówna started her acting career in 1946, performing on the stage, on TV, in films and cabarets. Her oeuvre includes: 62 outstanding theatrical roles (in theaters in Gdynia, Łódź, Wrocław, Warszawa, and Los Angeles), 33 roles in TV theater and over 43 film roles (in such films as Wojciech Has’s – Jak być kochaną, 1962; Andrzej Wajda’s – Popiół i diament, 1958; as well as films by Jan Nowicki, Kazimierz Kutz, and others). She has specialized in the theater of grotesque and the absurd (Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz, Witold Gombrowicz, Eugene Ionesco, etc.). She also performed numerous cabaret and comic roles. Her contributions to Polish culture, to the history of theater in Los Angeles and to the history of Polish émigrés in California are invaluable. Barbara Krafftówna received over 20 awards and medals from the Government of Poland, such as the Commodore Cross of Polonia Restituta, Medal Gloria Artis, and more.

    In 1983, in Los Angeles for the title role in Mother (Matka) by Witkacy, directed by the founder of the Modjeska Club, acting coach, director, and author Leonidas Dudarew Ossetyński, Krafftówna received 11 awards from a number of critics. She has performed in three productions for UCLA Laboratory of Theater Research (Seneca's Hippolytus in 1989; A Feast at Countess Kotlubaj's in 1997 and A Meditation on Virginity in 2004--both based on Gombrowicz short stories).

    Created in 2010, the “Modjeska Prizes” were previously awarded by the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club to Polish actors Jan Nowicki, Anna Dymna and Marian Dziędziel. Ms. Krafftówna will be the guest of the Modjeska Club and simultaneously of the Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles where her films will be screened. The Modjeska Prize is named after Polish actress who settled in California, Helena Modrzejewska (1840-1909).

    Krafftowna at the Modjeska Club in 2003, L to R:
    Krystyna Kuszta, Barbara Krafftowna, Jolanta Zych, and Tadeusz Podkanski.
    The event took place at the residence of Joanna and Andrzej Maleski.

    To see pictures from Krafftowna's visit to California in October 2012 visit our Picasa Web Album:

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Who Was Pola Negri? A Play by Kazimierz Braun

    On Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 5:00 p.m. the Modjeska Club presents a play written and directed by eminent Polish playwright and scholar, Prof. Kazimierz Braun: Stories of Pola Negri.  The one-evening performance will take place at Magicopolis, 1418 4th Street, Santa Monica, CA. Starring AGATA PILITOWSKA with MARIA NOWOTARSKA, the play (performed in Polish with English subtitles) traces the history of Polish star of silent film, Pola Negri.

    POLA NEGRI was the greatest Polish star in the history of cinema. She was born as Apolonia Chałupiec, in the small town of Lipno, near Toruń in 1897. From 1923 to 1934, she performed in twenty four Hollywood films, including The Spanish Dancer, Forbidden Paradise, A Woman of the World, Hotel Imperial, Loves of an Actress, and A Woman Commands. Each of them received enthusiastic reviews. At the same time, Negri also gained notoriety as the heroine of a scandalous romance with Charlie Chaplin, followed by an engagement to Rudolf Valentino. Just before their wedding, Valentino died in unexplained circumstances. Shortly afterwards, Negri married a Georgian prince, Sergey Mdivani. This was her second marriage. To make matters worse, public opinion judged Negri's marriage to Mdivani as a betrayal of Valentino, whom she had mourned publicly and for whom she had arranged a spectacular funeral. Attendance at her films fell, which translated into a withdrawal of contracts from film studios. Negri returned to Europe to work in Germany. As the Nazis tightened control over the film industry, screenplays in which she wanted to perform were censored. Asked to appear in an overtly anti-Polish film, she fled Germany. Negri lived for a while on the French Riviera, until the Second World War caught up with her. In 1940, she left once more for America. Apart from three insignificant roles, however, no film offers awaited her in Hollywood. She spent her last years in San Antonio, Texas, where she died in 1987.

    Kazimierz BRAUN

    Prof. Braun is a director, writer and a scholar. He studied Polish language and literature at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland, where he obtained his doctorate, and later obtained his postdoctoral “habilitation” degree at the University of Wrocław in Poland. He studied theatre direction at the University Theatre School in Warsaw, Poland. He holds the title of professor in Poland as well in the United States where he presently teaches at the New York State University in Buffalo. Professor Braun was a director of the J. Osterwa Thetre in Lublin and the Contemporary Theatre in Wrocław, Poland. There, he directed a sensational production of The Plague based on the novel by A. Camus, in which he alluded to martial law imposed on Poland at that time. For this, he lost his job and was forced to emigrate. Presently he directs plays and lectures in the Unites States and other countries, including Poland. He is the author of over thirty books, papers, as well as novels which were published in Polish, English and Czech languages. He also wrote several plays, staged in Poland, The United States, Canada, Ireland, and Russia. For Maria Nowotarska and Agata Pilitowska he has written a series of plays, featuring great women who emigrated from Poland: Helena - Play About Helena Modjeska, American Dreams, Tamara L., Radiation, Tales of Pola Negri, and Ordonka’ Secrets. These plays were performed in many countries - in Polish, with simultaneously projected translations in other languages. Professor Braun received many prestigious artistic and literary prizes and awards: Guggenheim, Fulbright, Turzański Foundation, and from a Foundation in Japan. He also received the Polish Cross of Merit and the Polish “Gloria Artis” medal.


    Established in 1990 by Maria Nowotarska, the Polish Theater presents plays and poetry readings on a range of Polish topics to audiences around the world. The most important part of the theater's repertoire are plays written by Kazimierz Braun for Maria Nowotarska and Agata Pilitowska and directed by the author: American Dreams, Tamara L., Promieniowanie (Radiation), Opowieści Poli Negri (Tales of Pola Negri), Tajemnice Ordonki (Ordonka’s Secrets). These plays were performed in Toronto and other Canadian and American cities: Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Sarasota, Phoenix, San Francisco as well as in Europe: Warsaw, Cracow, Zurich, Paris, Stockholm, Malmo, Utrecht, Duesseldorf, Vilnius, Lyon, Toulouse, Athens, Braga, Palma de Mallorca, London, Vienna and in Brazil's Sao Paulo.


    Maria Nowotarska graduated from the Cracow University Theatre School and for thirty three years was a staff actress at the J. Słowacki Theatre in Cracow, Poland. During her career there, she played many significant roles under the direction of several outstanding directors, both in comedy and drama. She played in a number of Polish films: Nad Niemnem (On the River Niemen), Między Ustami a Brzegiem Pucharu (Between lips and the rim of the cup), Kolory Kochania (Colours of love) and in many TV productions. She came to Canada in 1990 and singlehandedly created Polish theatrical life in Toronto. She is the artistic director, stage director, as well as actress of the “Salon of Poetry, Music and Theatre” Polish Theatre. The Salon's productions included an array of the best Polish poets, from Kochanowski to Szymborska and Twardowski. Ms. Nowotarska created the Actors' Studio which is associated with the Salon and which introduces young people of Polish origin to work on stage. Ms. Nowotarska’s Salon was honoured with the Medal of Polish Senate, and the “Cracow 2000” medal . She herself was awarded the Prize of The Adam Mickiewicz Foundation in Canada, and from the Turzański Foundation. She was also accorded the title “Woman of the Year” (1995) and received the Golden Medal of the Canadian Polish Congress. She was awarded the “Cross of Merit” by the President of the Polish Republic, the title “Distinguished Advocate of Polish Culture”, and the “Gloria Artis” medal by the Polish Minister of Culture. She was awarded a Gold Medal by the American Polish Institute in Miami, Florida and the “Golden Owls” statuette in Vienna, Austria.


    Agata Pilitowska graduated from the Cracow University Theatre School in Cracow, Poland and came to Canada in 1986. Agata Pilitowska lives in Toronto. She played many English speaking roles in local theatres. From 1992 she is associated with the Salon of Poetry, Music, and Theatre where she played in more than 100 productions, most notably in the series of dramas, written and directed especially for her and for Maria Nowotarska by Kazimierz Braun. These plays were performed not only in Toronto, but also in many cities throughout Canada, the United States, Europe, as well as in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her evening of poetry, Szymborska Nobel 96, was performed in Polish and English, among other places at the Concordia University in Montreal, Washington University in Washington D.C., and as part of the International Writers’ Festival in Ottawa. Since 1999 she has been a presenter and journalist for OMNI TV, where she hosts a weekly programme Z Ukosa (Sideglance). For OMNI TV she dubbed thirty three hours of TV programme “Canada, the Peoples' History” and twenty programmes Ecce Homo. She was also narrator and host of Polish language version of the series Science Show. Agata Pilitowska was awarded the title “Distinguished Advocate of Polish Culture” (2004), the medal “Gloria Artis” (2006), and the “Golden Owls” statuette (2011) for her achievements in acting and theatre in Vienna, Austria.

    Saturday, September 1, 2012

    Carmageddon? No! "Pola Negri" - Polish Theatre from Toronto at Magicopolis, 9/30/12

                                  POLA NEGRI STORIES - MAGICOPOLIS, 9/30/2012

    On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles, I'm delighted to invite Club Members and Guests to a fascinating spectacle about a silent film star, Pola Negri.  The play, written by the eminent playwright and director, Kazimierz Braun, follows Pola Negri's career and presents its highlights, with film excerpts.  This rare treat will be in Polish; with Agata Pilitowska as Pola Negri and Maria Nowotarska.  The silent-film era costumes will delight the audience, as will the sultry and passionate portrayal of the famous actress.

    This spectacle is a touring production by Teatr Polski w Toronto (Polish Theater of Toronto) and willl be presented in Polish on Sunday, Septe3mber 30, 2012 at 5:00 pm (the second day of the Carmaggedon, i.e., the closure of the 405 freeway). MAGICOPOLIS, 1418 4th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. We hope you will be able to arrive on time; the door will open at 4:30 p.m.  RVSP to September 15, 2012 to Elzbieta Kanski; after that tickets will be available to the general public ($35 guests, $20 club members).



    In the fall 2012 season the following events are planned:

    • 30 September - Teatr Polski from Toronto "Pola Negri" - Magicopolis, Santa Monica (the same day as the closure of the 405 freeway)
    • 13 October - Barbara Krafftowna receives the Modjeska Prize, she confirmed her attendance, the event is for club members only and VIP guests  
    • 14 October - Paderewski Lecture, Polish Music Center (our Club donates annually $500), free
    • 24 November - tour of the Modjeska House and Estate, Arden, OC and a picnic in the park; the tour at 10 am  (first group of 45), and at 1 pm. (second group if neded)
    • 2 December - Teatr Polski from Poland, Anna Seniuk with P. Malecka (viola) "Wieczor w Teatrze Wielkim"- $20 members, $35 guests
    • 15 December - Holiday Party and Caroling in the home of Mrs. and Mr Chmielewski in Pasadena, free to members only
    • 31 December - New Year's Eve Party, Long Beach Petroleum Club, DJ - Richard (as during our last New Year's Eve and the Anniversary Ball), $120 per person
    Hope to see you all during our enjoyable new season!

    Newly Elected Board of Directors of the Modjeska Club for 2012-2014

    Maja Trochimczyk, President
    Elzbieta Kanski, Vice President
    Danuta Zuchowski, Treasurer
    Leela Chmielewski, Secretary
    Krystyna Bartkowski
    Andrew Dowen
    Krystyna Okuniewski
    Wanda Presburger
    Bogdan Plewnia
    Jolanta Wilk

    During the meeting new bylaws were approved and Barbara Krafftowna was voted as the next recipient of the Modjeska Prize.

    Pictures from the General Electoral Meeting are at: Modjeska Club Elections 2012 Picasa Web Album. Links to other albums are on the right margin.

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    General Meeting of Modjeska Club - June 23 at 5 p.m., Pasadena

    A quick reminder that the general meeting of the Modjeska Club and the elections of the new President and Board are scheduled for Saturday, June 23, 2012 at 5 p.m. at the hospitable home of Danuta and Wieslaw Zuchowski in Pasadena. The address and other details have been provided in an email and letters to all Club members who have paid the dues. Whoever did not pay the dues yet and is not eligible to vote, may come to the meeting, pay the oustanding yearly dues, and pick up the ballot to exercise their right to vote.

    Over the course of the last two years, the Bylaws of the Modjeska Club have been revised by a committee lead by Andrew Z. Dowen and the resulting text has been sent to all members in good standing with a ballot for approval. The English version is the legal document, and a Polish translation has been posted on the website:

    Prof. Norman Davies (center) surrounded by the Modjeska Club members. L to R: Andy Dowen, Jola Zych, Krystyna Bartkowska, Bozena Szeremeta, Dorota Olszewska, Elzbieta Kanska, Krystyna Okuniewska, Maja Trochimczyk, Helena Kolodziey, Krystyna Kuszta and Bogdan Plewnia, May 19, 2012, Beverly Hills. Poster by Lech Majewski, commissioned by Consul General Joanna Kozinska-Frybes jako dar dla Klubu.

    The Club has hosted 15 events in the 39th season (2010-2011) and 13 events in the 40th anniversary season (2011-1012), including presentations by artists, writers, actors, musicians, and politicians from Poland, Polish-American poets, musicians, and scholars specializing in Polish culture.  Additionally two events focused on presentations of the Modjeska Prizes to Marian Dziedziel and Anna Dymna. Several events were organized in collaboration with Polish and American partners, to mention only: the Bowers Museum, Jacaranda Music Group, the UCLA Hammer Museum, Instytut Adama Mickiewicza, USC Polish Music Center, Polish Film Festival in Los Angeles, and, our greatest supporter, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland.

    Our events were mostly open to the public and about 50% used English as the main language. The "members-only" events included meetings with Prof. Jerzy Balcerowicz, former Chairman of Poland's National Bank in 2010, and with Prof. Norman Davies, a British expert on European history in 2012 

    We received honors and recognitions from the City and County of Los Angeles. We have instituted a new award, called the "Modjeska Prize" and given in recognition of outstanding achievements by actors in Poland. Jan Nowicki, Marian Dziedziel and Anna Dymna have received the Modjeska Prizes so far.

    Much progress was made in documenting the Club's history as new sources came to life from the collections of the Polish Museum of America in Chicago thanks to the President's reasearch.  In addition, founding members, active in the club's first decade (Wanda Baran, Jerzy Zagner) have also contributed important sources and information.  Research continues. The results will be published in the book "A Grand,  Historical Album" ("Album Wielce Historyczny") that is currently being edited. The publication of the Polish version will be scheduled for the fall 2012. The book will include biographical notes about important artists, writers, scholars and scientists who have belonged to the Club over the 40 years of its history.

    It has been a pleasure to serve as the Club's President for the past two years and I'm proud of our collective accomplishments.  I've been assisted by an amazing, dedicated, hard-working, and cohesive Board of Directors: Krystyna Kuszta, Vice-President; Danuta Zuchowski, Treasurer; Krystyna Bartkowski, Secretary; Andy Dowen, Krystyna Okuniewska, Wanda Presburger, Bogdan Plewnia, and Bozena Szeremeta.

    Friday, June 8, 2012

    Anna Dymna Receives the 2011 Modjeska Prize in Poland

     On May 29, 2012 in Kraków, the eminent Polish actress, Anna Dymna accepted the Modjeska Prize 2011 awarded to her by the Helena Modjeska Art and Culture Club in Los Angeles in October 2011 for her extraordinary contributions to Polish culture.

    The low-key, warm and friendly ceremony took place at a luncheon sponsored by the US General Consulate in Krakow and held at a gourmet Avanti restaurant, featuring Italian cuisine. The attendees included the Public Affairs Officer in the US General Consulate in Krakow Benjamin Ousley Naseman, and Mrs. Maria Brzostek the Educational Adviser in the Consulate, the President of the Board of Directors of the Polish American Historical Association, Prof. Neal Pease, the President of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, Prof. Mieczysław B.B. Biskupski, Prof. Dorota Praszałowicz of the Jagiellonian University, and many other scholars from several countries who participated in the Fifth Workshop on “American Ethnicity: Rethinking Old Issues, Asking New Questions” organized by Prof. Praszałowicz and her team.

    The award was presented by an émigré music historian and poet, Dr. Maja Trochimczyk, the President of the Modjeska Club and a Board member of the Polish American Historical Association. In addition to the 2011 Modjeska Prize, Ms. Dymna also received a certificate of congratulations from the City Council of Los Angeles.

    Anna Dymna studied acting at the celebrated Theater School of Kraków and started her illustrious career while still a student, performing for the Julius Słowacki Theater in 1969. She joined the National Helena Modrzejewska Old Theatre in Kraków immediately after her graduation in 1973 and has performed on its stage since then. Like Modrzejewska, recognized for her talent and beauty, Dymna starred in major plays from the classical repertoire and in numerous films and television series, appearing in over 250 roles to a great critical acclaim. In 2002, she established a Poetry Salon presenting readings by the most celebrated poets and actors and recognized as one of the most interesting cultural activities in the region.

    Dedicated to her charity work, in 2003 Dymna established her charity foundation Mimo Wszystko (“Against the Odds”) to provide services to the disabled. She is a recipient of numerous awards for her artistic achievements including the Golden Mask (1996, 1999, 2000), the Golden Screen (1984), and the Golden Lions (1994). In 2004, she received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta and The Order of the Smile from disabled children.

    Ms. Dymna, accompanied by the Director of her charitable foundation Mimo Wszystko that provides assistance to disabled children, Mr. Marek Kowalski, was gracious and personable in her acceptance speech. She talked about her appreciation of this distinction and her pride of having been honored by an émigré organization maintaining its strong ties with Poland and named after her famous predecessor, actress Helena Modrzejewska. Another poignant link was provided by the fact that for over 40 years, Ms. Dymna has been performing at Kraków’s distinguished cultural institution, the Old Theater (Teatr Stary), named after Helena Modrzejewska.

    She also explained the multitude of charitable and artistic duties that she has been engaged in that had prevented her from traveling to Los Angeles to accept the award in person in California. The current projects include a premiere of a new theater show Chłopcy [Boys) by Stanisław Grochowiak, ongoing series of widely popular Poetry Salons in Kraków, and several large-scale charitable events, including Zwyciężać Mimo Wszystko [To Win Against All Odds].

    The international group of scholars gave the beautiful actress a standing ovation, in appreciation of her decades of astounding artistic contributions and over ten years of generous charitable activities, helping many children and individuals in Poland. With her talent and heart, Ms. Dymna knows how to make the world a better place.

    The Modjeska Club created its Annual Modjeska Prize In 2010, in order to commemorate its patron, the famous Polish actress Helena Modrzejewska (known in America as Modjeska). The Modjeska Prize is awarded to recognize the achievements and contributions of actors to Polish culture. Other past recipients of Modjeska Prizes include actors Jan Nowicki and Marian Dziędziel.

    For those who did not make it to Krakow, here are the links to a Photo Album from the Award Ceremony and, as a special treat, to the Krakow's signature melody - Hejnal Mariacki:



    1. General Election Meeting of the Modjeska Club will be held on June 23, 2012 at 5 p.m. at the residence of Danuta and Wieslaw Zuchowski in Pasadena. Only members in good standing can vote.

    2. The Revised Bylaws will be sent for approval to all Club members in good standing next week.  The vote will be either by mail to Chair of the Bylaws Committee, Andrew Z. Dowen, or in person at the General Election Meeting. We have updated the official English version of the Bylaws and will post the Polish translation on our website.

    3. During the General Meeting a preview copy of the Modjeska Club History book will be available for review - Polish version only. If any Club members have pictures or memorabilia, especially from the early period, we are looking forward to receiving photographs for inclusion in the book.

    3. We would like to organize a summer trip to Modjeska's House, Arden, in Orange County. The house is open for tours only twice a month and advance reservations are required. Further details will be posted after the elections.