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Jerzy Grotowski
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JERZY GROTOWSKI


Considered one of the most important and influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century, Jerzy Grotowski revolutionized contemporary theatre in multiple ways. Grotowski changed the way Western theatre practitioners and performance theorists conceive of the audience-actor relationship, theatre staging and the craft of acting. Perhaps best known for his notion of poor theatre, Grotowskis practice extends beyond the confines of conventional theatre assuming a long-term and systematic exploration of the possibilities of the human being in a performance context. In practical terms, Grotowskis praxis explores the ways in which specific performance techniques unlock forgotten potentialities in the human being.


In 1959, at the invitation of Ludwik Flaszen - later the literary director of the Laboratory Theatre who played the role Grotowskis internal devils advocate - Grotowski began his work in the Theatre of Thirteen Rows in Opole. In 1965, he moved to Wroclaw, where along with Flaszen, he established the Polish Laboratory Theatre. An early pioneer in the field of environmental theatre, Grotowskis contributions to contemporary performance include a reconceptualization of the physical basis of the actors art and an emphasis on the performers obligation to daily training, as well as the exploration and refinement of a performance technique rooted in the principles of Stanislavskys Method of Physical Actions. Early on, Grotowski articulated a need for a type of performance laboratory modeled after the Bohr Institute (of nuclear physics), a forum for the investigation of the principles governing artistic creativity, which would demystify the creative process. Grotowskis formulation of investigations into the actors craft - while by no means scientific  were governed by certain objective laws. The term objective in Grotowskis terminology denoted observable facts with certain precise and determinable effects on the participants state of energy.


Grotowskis life-long research, while taking various forms and undergoing multiple transformations, is unified by a single underlying propulsion: the work on the self with and through the other. There are at least two threads that run through all stages of Grotowskis work. The first is a focus on the self-development of the individual  both as an artist and as a human being. The second is an exploration of the potentialities of a meeting between two or more people.


Dominika Laster


A Grotowski Chronology

November 2019
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