What's Eating Gilbert Grape
based on Peter Hedges novel
Karolina Kowalczyk
translation: Aldona Możdżyńska
21 September 2023
running time
90 min
scena mała
Sat 9 March
hour 19.30
Sun 10 March
hour 18.00
Tue 12 March
hour 19.30


Amy Grape
Bonnie Grape [Mama]
Gilbert Grape
Arnie Grape
Ellen Grape


director – Karolina Kowalczyk

adaptation – Natalia Królak i Karolina Kowalczyk

dramaturgy – Natalia Królak

set design and costumes – Bartłomiej Dominik Bonawentura Kruk 

sculptures – Julia Tymańska

music – Jakub Buchner

supervisor of process – Izabela Fornalik

workshop on the dignity of people with disabilities – Katarzyna Żeglicka

consultations about fat-mancipation – Natalia Skoczylas

feedback – Wojciech Ziemilski

stage manager – Zofia Marciniak
voices – Barbara Wysocka (newsreader), Mateusz Łasowski (policeman)

cast – Aleksandra Bożek, Michał Jarmicki, Andrzej Kłak, Daniel Krajewski (guest, Theatre 21), Natalia Lange 


– Something wrong at home?

There’s always something wrong at home.

["What’s eating Gilbert Grape", Peter Hedges]


Each of us has a body. Each of us also has a family. More or less complete, better or worse at functioning. However, they are always the structures that position us in society from the first day of our lives.


The Grapes are a specific family with specific bodies. Ellen is going through a period of rebellion and puberty, Arnie has Down syndrome and is constantly hiding somewhere, Amy never rests, Bonnie wears her fat body like armor, Gilbert just wants peace and quiet, and Albert is dead. And somehow it goes by day after day, month after month, from breakfast to dinner, from one birthday to the next.


"What's Eating Gilbert Grape" is a story where the drama of the body meets the drama of the family, it’s an attempt to look at a life in which love disappeared under a layer of entanglement, pain and trauma. Did it disappear completely?


We reach for the cult novel by Peter Hedges to discover the truth told by a simple family story treated with care and attention. The truth, not our idea of it.


Thanks to the involvement of the experts in the field of disability and obesity, as well as the process supervisor, we are looking for representation-based forms of theater production. We ask questions about the dignity of those who cannot hide their differences from the norm.


Is there a place in contemporary theater for crip – the liberation of people with disabilities – and for the liberation of people with fat bodies? Can this even work?


Do the Grapes still stand a chance? 


The play "What's Eating Gilbert" Grape is directed by Karolina Kowalczyk and written by Natalia Królak. It is their joint project as part of the "Change – Now!" initiative, an international educational program led by the Theater Academy in Warsaw. The aim is to develop new proposals for theater education and practices, based on democratic and team principles (sometimes distant from the traditional teaching models), responding to dynamic social transformations and changing conditions of work in culture, taking into account the transformations that are taking place in the theater environment after the pandemic. An important element of the program is the production of performances by young artists, created in cooperation with renowned Warsaw theaters, based on the synergy effect: an exchange of good practices and mutual learning.


A show for viewers aged 15 and over.




The performance is being created as part of the "Change – Now!" project, implemented by the Aleksander Zelwerowicz Theater Academy in Warsaw.





Project "Change – Now!" is financed by the European Commission under the Erasmus+ program. The show reflects only the position of its authors and the European Commission and the National Agency of the Erasmus+ Program are not responsible for its substantive content.

Teatr Powszechny
im. Zygmunta Hübnera
ul. Jana Zamoyskiego 20
03-801 Warszawa
tickets 22 818 25 16
22 818 48 19