A small huddle of people are waiting to go inside the headquarters of radical theatre troupe Komuna//Warszawa to see Future Tales (Sierakowski), a fantastical science-fiction critique of Slawomir Sierakowski, a leftist Polish intellectual idolised by some for his ideological radicalism, and lampooned by others for seemingly becoming part of a new establishment.
As they wait, a bare-chested man marches briskly out of one of the still residential blocks, and appears to make it his business to barge through the group rather than navigate his way around them. Instead of assorted excuse-mes and apologies, an argument ensues, which, with neither party prepared to leave it, threatens to turn physical.
Only when the bare-chested resident has vented his spleen on the person he barged into with what turns out to be the harshest swear-words in Polish before storming off do things die down.
Strangers queueing for Komuna//Warszawa could be forgiven for mistaking such a mini-spectacle for a set-up. As it is, such argy-bargy is a perfect example of the contradictions between cutting-edge art and the people on its doorstep who sometimes resent such intrusions. As Komuna//Warszawa prepare to bring Future Tales (Sierakowski) to Edinburgh's Summerhall venue as part of Polska Arts, a wide-ranging showcase of work in all art-forms brought to Edinburgh by the Warsaw-based Adam Mickiewicz Institute, it is clear what a broad theatrical scene the company is part of.
Alongside Komuna//Warszawa, there will be visits from Teatr Biuro Podrozy, who scored a hit in Edinburgh almost two decades ago with their politically-charged open-air spectacle Carmen Funebre. As well as a special Amnesty International benefit performance of that show, the company will also perform Macbeth: Who Is That Bloodied Man, as well as a brand new show, the science-fiction based Planet Lem, taken from the work of Stanislaw Lem. Lem's novel, Solaris, was made into a feature film by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972, and has since been adapted again for the big screen by Steven Soderbergh.
The Bank of Scotland Herald Angel-winning Song of the Goat Theatre will also return to Edinburgh as part of Polska Arts, as will too the Lublin-based NeTTheatre, who picked up an award last year for their take on Turandot, in a co-production with Grupa Coincidential.
This year, NeTTheatre will bring director Pawel Passini's newly-devised Puppet: The Book of Splendour. This draws inspiration from Tadeusz Kantor, the Polish theatre legend whose Cricot 2 company was brought to Edinburgh in the 1970s by Richard Demarco. With Demarco's extensive archive soon to be housed at Summerhall, it is significant that much of Polska Arts is housed in the same venue, now in its second year of operation.
Beyond Kantor and the companies mentioned, a new generation of Polish theatre-makers will also be in residence. Their shows include productions of three very different works by artists still in their twenties. Wojtek Ziemilski's Small Narration is based on the author and performer's discovery that his loved and respected late grandfather was a collaborator with the communist secret police. We Are Chechens! finds director Marcin Brzowski and the Lodz Film School working with young people to explore the full human consequences of living in a war zone.
Possibly most ambitious of all, 24 H finds young performer Waclaw Miklaszewski playing twenty-four different characters over a real-time experience that runs from 6am to 6am the following day.
"All of the characters live in the same apartment block," says Miklaszewski, "so even if they don't know each other, they are connected somehow."
If this sounds like another Polish auteur, film-maker Krzysztof Kieslowski, whose Dekalog was similarly based around the residents of a block of flats, it's coincidence. Miklaszewski's epic, which he will perform twice at Summerhall, sounds even more draining.
"I have done it before," he says, "so I know what to expect. I am in training now, so audiences too should prepare."
For We Are Chechens!, Brzowski and the students of Lodz Film School are looking to real events in an attempt to define recent history for themselves . It sounds like what in this country would-be viewed as a large-scale piece of issue-based youth or community theatre.
In contrast Wojtek Ziemilski's Small Narration is something of a family affair. Ziemilski's mother was an actor in Cricot 2, and he originally had no desire whatsoever to do theatre. Eventually, however, he couldn't avoid it.
"Once I discovered this story, I had to find the right way to tell it," he says. "That turned out to be theatre, which surprised me, but what I found was that theatre doesn't have to be done in a particular way, and can be anything you want it to be."
Theatre has always played a crucial part in Polish life. An enlightened post World War Two public-funding system enabled the art-form to thrive, both in a traditional institutional way, and through an avant-garde that gave rise to Kantor. The censorship that was in place in the eastern bloc actually gave rise to a more visually-based form, loaded with metaphor. Those that were explicit in their criticisms of the government, such as Theatre of the Eighth Day, who were forged in the ferment of 1968, were forced into exile.
Today, Theatre of the Eighth Day are regarded as icons, while, beyond Kantor, the elder statesmen are Kristian Lupa, who has brought several productions to Edinburgh International Festival, and Grzegorz Jarzyna.
Jarzyna's production of Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis was part of EIF's 2008 programme, while this year he brings a radical take on Shakespeare in 2008: Macbeth.
In different ways, both NeTTheatre and Komuna//Warszawa continue Polish theatre's disparate legacy beyond Jarzyna. Komuna//Warszawa were founded as an anarchist collective by designer Grzegorz Laszuk, whose productions fuse music, text and visual elements to make playfully provocative dramatic collages usually based around real figures.
Watching Future Tales (Sierakowski) in the company's space, it actually looks more akin to a satirical punk revue than a linear piece of theatre.
If Komuna//Warszawa are looking to imaginary futures in their work, then NeTTTheatre are fascinated with Polish theatre's past, even as they attempt to push it forward. By openly referencing Kantor in Puppet: The Book of Splendour, Passini and his company are acknowledging their influences even as they define their own roughshod style.
As with Komuna//Warszawa, music plays a crucial part, with Pawel Passini playing keyboards from among the audience. Both Kantor and Lupa, who Passini names as the most important Polish theatre director alive, made similar interventions with their work while it was in progress.
Joanna Klass, one of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute's officers and an oracle on Polish theatre history, sums up her country's relationship with theatre when she calls it Poland's "national sport."
As he prepares for 24 H, Mikaszewski's sums up his commitment to an already-gruelling show in even simpler terms.
"As I get older, I want to see what happens to my characters as they get older," he says. "I want to do this show for the rest of my life."
We Are Chechens! has its last performances at Summerhall today; Puppet: The Book of Splendour runs to Monday, Small Narration to August 23; Macbeth: Who Is That Bloodied Man? is at Edinburgh University's Old College Quad to Monday, and Carmen Funebre has a single performance there on Tuesday. Other shows are at Summerhall to August 26.