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bio

Christopher Vened Szwaja


Christopher was born in Poland in 1952. He began his professional theater career at the age of 20 working as a dancer in the Wrocław Music Theater.

In 1974-81, he was a mime working  for the Wroclaw Pantomime Theater - the world famous avant-garde theater founded and directed by Henryk Tomaszewski.

 He performed leading roles there, often cast in the parts of gods, monsters, and lovers. The dual role of Guest-Dionysus in the production of Arriving Tomorrow brought him stardom. He also distinguished himself in the roles of Medium in the production of The Menagerie of Empress Filisa, Monster in the production of Mr. Twardowski, Paris and Homunculus in the production of Dr. Faust, Satyr in the production of Hercules and Hebe, and Galahad in the production of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.
 
Christopher regularly toured internationally with the Wroclaw Pantomime Theater  and participated in the most prestigious theater festivals in the world.

In 1977, he was awarded the Brown Spire in Wroclaw for the best performer.

While on tour in Germany, Christopher defected to the West when Martial Law was declared in Poland on December 13, 1981.

He stayed in West Berlin for about two and a half years where he worked as a movement instructor. His classes had a considerable following. Students were coming to attend them from all over Europe. He also choreographed performances in Transformtheater.

 In 1983, he founded Impulse – Movement Theater, whose members were his students, and produced Sechs Uhr Morgan, a choreodrama inspired by Kafka’s story The Metamorphosis, in Kreuzberger Tanzfabrik.

In April 1984, he permanently immigrated to the United States. He settled in Los Angeles, where he taught in acting studios and choreographed performances in various theaters.

 In 1985, Christopher was awarded the Los Angeles Drama-Logue’s Critic’s Award for outstanding achievement in Theater for choreography in the production of Voyage to Arcturus at the Odyssey Theater.

A few years later, in 1989, Christopher moved to Seattle and became the cofounder and the director of Drama Studio in Seattle. There he focused on teaching and exploring acting techniques. He taught Character Study, Scene Work, and Movement for Actors classes. He also directed Private View By Vaclaw Havel, and The Maids by Genet.

In 1994, Christopher returned to Los Angeles and taught acting in UCLA and various other schools around the country.

In 2000, Christopher’s book In Character: An Actor’s Workbook for Character Development was published by Heinemann.

In 2002, Christopher wrote his first biographical short story The Knife in a Curiosity Shop Window (4,697 words.) He keeps writing short stories until now.

In 2003, Christopher was the movement director for the production of Faust at the Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles.

In the fall of 2007, Christopher directed Dracula at the North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach.

In the end of 2009, Christopher finished writing the screenplay Gilgamesh, which is based on the Sumerian epic of the same title.

In 2010, Christopher wrote a biographical play, An Interview with Myself. Its first public reading/performance is scheduled for March 2012 in Seattle.

In the fall of 2011, Christopher was a speaker at a theatrical symposim in Poland about Henryk Tomaszewski's Wrocław Pantomime Theatre. His 25 pages biographical essay My First Pantomime that he presented at the symposium was published in the prestigious literary monthly Odra in March 2012.

In the fall of 2012, Christopher’s Theatrical Memoir: An Interview with Myself Part IV was published in the academic journal The Polish Review under the title Playing Dionysus.

In December 27, 2013, HUMAN IDENTITY A One Man Show Written and Performed by Christopher Vened opened at Co Ho Theater, Portland, Oregon.

In Januray 5, 2014, HUMAN IDENTITY A One Man Show Written and Performed by Christopher Vened premiered at The Lounge Theatres, Los Angeles.

Work in Progress:

Collection of short stories 

A film production of Gilgamesh

A biographic play An Interview with Myself