adapted and directed by Matt Mitler
directed by Jerzy Grotowski
Thursday, January 2, 2003 - Sunday, January 19, 2003
La MaMa E.T.C.
74A East 4th Street, New York, NY
The Polish Cultural Institute is pleased to call attention to a local though multi-national theatrical initiative having deep roots in the traditions of contemporary Polish theatre in general and especially in the work of Jerzy Grotowski and the Polish Theatre Laboratory.
Thanks to a Kosciuszko Foundation grant in 1977, Matt Mitler, originally trained in Humanistic Psychology (studying with R.D. Laing and Carl Rogers), spent most of one year getting hands-on exposure to the varied work of Ryszard Schechner, Tadeusz Lomnicki, Jozef Szajna, Tadeusz Kantor, and Krakow's Teatr Stu. Invited by Piotr Skrzynecki, Mitler and another young partner from New York were a sell-out hit at the Piwnica pod Baranami. The deepest impression of all came from his work with Jerzy Grotowski and a two-week paratheatrical workshop with Grotowski's lead performer, Ryszard Cieslak. Following the Kosciuszko Foundation tour Mitler stayed on for one semester teaching non-verbal theatre at Warsaw University's Institute of Psychology.
He has since then designed and directed more than 50 theatrical productions in the U.S. and Europe, with work presented at major international festivals, including Festival Mondial du Theatre and The Theatre of Nations. His 1995 film "Cracking Up" garnered many awards, including Best Film at the Venice International Film Festival Critic's Week, and People's Choice at the New York Underground Film Festival. He is also profiled in "Working on the Inside: The Spiritual Life Through the Eyes of Actors" by Retta Blaney.
Mitler founded DZIECI in 1997 (DJEH-chee, the Polish word for "children") as an international experimental theatre ensemble dedicated to a search for the "sacred" through the medium of theatre. DZIECI aims to vigilantly uphold Stanislavski's maxim: "We must love not ourselves in art, but art in ourselves." Towards this aim, the ensemble balances its work on performance with work of service through creative and therapeutic interaction with patients in a variety of institutional settings, which have included, among many others, Rockland Psychiatric Hospital and Cabrini Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. DZIECI believes that by helping others, a profound healing effect is generated that not only serves the patient, but strengthens the ensemble's work. Artistic DirectorMatt Mitler sees in his choice of the name "Dzieci" a reflection of Grotowski's belief in the importance of the idea of "transmission", as well as a reflection of the ensemble's approach to "the play" as childlike in its openness, freshness, trust, and total commitment to "play".
THE DEVILS OF LOUDUN (Thursday - Sunday, 7:30 PM) is a multilayered chamber piece about mass possession, sin, and redemption, inspired by Aldous Huxley's historical treatise. The story, set in 17th century France, involves a group of nuns who become possessed by devils, and the local parish priest who is burned at the stake as a result. In development for five years, the piece has grown from a strictly movement-based performance piece into a ritualized integration of text, music, and movement that makes for a compelling, visceral, and rewarding experience for actors and audience alike. The text has been compiled from a variety of sacred and classic sources; the abundant vocal music comes from a wide range of Medieval and Renaissance sources; and elements of sacred movement and traditional dance, as well as techniques from mime, Commedia dell'Arte, and Meyerhold have been integrated into the staging. A performance owing much to Jerzy Grotowski, of a story rendered variously by Kawalerowicz, Penderecki, and Ken Russell.
In FOOL'S MASS (Sundays at 2:30 PM), dedicated to Grotowski, a group of medieval village idiots are forced to enact the mass on their own because of the sudden death of their beloved pastor, who had given them shelter and taught them to sing. Buffoonery and comic audience participation are combined with sacred hymns and chants from the 8th through the 17th centuries in a work that travels from the ridiculous to the sublime. It has been performed seasonally at Grace Episcopal Church in Manhattan since 1998.
For more information on DZIECI visit
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