Penguin Islands Archipelago might surprise anyone who knows Ingmar Villqist’s plays. This satirical, ironic and very funny tale about the adventures of a gallant officer in the Kunst Army presents the issues of concern to this controversial playwright – including loneliness, art and violence in a completely new way. Shrouded in mystery, it took more than ten years to complete.
At the Royal Ladies’ College preparations are underway for a patriotic staging of The Victorious Eagles, which will be the highlight of a special event in honour of the Royal Grandmother. The young art teacher and his pupils are working on the set design. Soon after he is mobilised and takes part in a ludicrous war against the Republic of Sydonia. When we meet him again, he is Junior Assistant at the Royal National Museum, whose Director is in the course of implementing his mad plan to militarise the plastic arts, as the only possible salvation for the country’s art that is “up to its neck in nonentity”. The First Kunst Army that he has created, armed with canvas stretchers and paintbrushes, fights its Ultimate Battle on the shores of the Flat Lake. Meanwhile in the city Operation Fortress is going on – the Sydonians carry out regular air raids, the Library goes up in flames and the Museum is reduced to rubble. At the Theatre the premiere of The Victorious Eagles is on, when the blast of a gigantic explosion throws the hero into the middle of the audience. The stage drama soon turns into a proper scene of carnage. Will the former art teacher get out of this tight spot safe and sound? Where will he fly away to in his sniper friend’s balloon? Will the riddle of the Penguin Islands Archipelago ever be explained?
Ingmar Villqist (born 1960) is an art historian, playwright, theatre director and lecturer at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. His plays are performed in repertoire at almost twenty theatres, in Poland, Germany, Britain, Lithuania, Slovakia and Bulgaria. They have been translated into ten languages and have often been published in theatre journals and anthologies of modern drama.