Antoni Sadlak/Jaworski, director of Woolly Mammoth's current production of "America Hurrah," has an interesting theory about the difference between New York and Washington audiences. "In New York there is a certain kind of hype in just getting to the theater," the recent ex-New Yorker said. "The experience on the street with people shoving you, and so forth, is such that your adrenaline is at a high pitch when you sit down. You're in an aggressive mood, and you want aggressive theater, so you don't sit back and let a theater experience occur.
"Here, if you go to the Kennedy Center, there is a sort of reverential feeling. You don't think you should speak above a whisper. If you go downtown there are rarely more than half a dozen street people. The psychology is completely different."
Some people find that different psychology stultifying, but Sadlak/Jaworski finds it stimulating. He has recently given up a wonderful Manhattan apartment (five rooms, $300 a month -- only death should part you from such a deal) to return to Washington, where he hopes to line up a teaching job and continue his directing and writing projects.
He lived in Washington as a congressional brat (his late father was representative Antoni Sadlak of Connecticut) and college student (Georgetown and then Catholic University for a graduate degree), and because he has friends in the region he visited often during the 10 years he lived in New York. But "America Hurrah" is the first production he has directed here. A friend is on the board of Woolly Mammoth and got them together. "She said, 'You're crazy, and they're crazy, so it might work out.' "
Sadlak/Jaworski will be traveling this year to Poland, where last year he directed a production of "The Fantasticks" in Polish, a language he speaks, thanks to his mother, who was born a countess there. At one point, in rebellion against his father's family, he dropped the name Sadlak and used only Jaworski, but lately he uses both. His bent is toward new plays and experimental theater, although he also spent five years working for the New York City Opera as staff director. He has also written a play, "Eggplants Are for Eating," which was produced at the Troupe Theatre in New York.
"In many ways, I think Washington is more innovative than New York," he said. "You don't have La Mama, but you do have Woolly Mammoth. I think there is a willingness to take chances here."