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POLAND 2013 - 10 ZŁ Centenary of the Polish Theatre in Warsaw

The "publico-tropism" he aimed for purported that the actors take off the mask of everyday life and perform an act of total self-revelation. Offering himself as an "absolute gift", the Grotowskian actor constitutes the antithesis of the prostitute, with whom nonetheless he has been identified for centuries. For Grotowski, who was well acquainted with India's philosophical traditions, the actor's mission is to embody a complete abandonment to something impossible to name, but describable as including both "the erotic and the charitable".

It was there that he learned about the acting techniques and artistic approaches of such greats of the Russian theatre as Stanislavsky, Vakhtangov, Meyerhold and Tairov. Grotowski made his directorial debut in , with the 'Gods of Rain' production. In this performance he introduced his bold approach to text. Later in , on the invitation of theatre critic and playwright Ludwik Flaszen, Grotowski moved to Opole where he became director of the Theatre of 13 Rows.

There he began to assemble a company of actors and artistic collaborators which would help him realize his unique vision. It was also there that he began to experiment with approaches to performance training which enabled him to shape the young actors initially allocated to his provincial theatre into the transformational artists they eventually became. In Acropolis , Grotowski tried to represent the unrepresentable - the nightmare of Auschwitz. As its central theme, however, Acropolis evoked the idea of resurrection, both in the sense of redemption from death and oblivion, and that of a task to be faced by each man.

The actors seemed to completely negate the presence of the audience, and the strange, hostile world they evoked is said to have depicted the unimaginable reality of the concentration camp.

Alternative Theatre in Poland (Polish Theatre Archives)

Acropolis is considered a masterpiece of 20th-century theatre across the world. Through various physical exercises and ways of working with the voice, Grotowski attempted to tap into the sources of ancient expression. Fascinated with the thoughts of Carl Jung, he sought out archetypes that would prove helpful in building roles and turn his actors' efforts into an act of sacrifice. The ecstatic acting techniques of the Laboratory Theatre were not aimed at achieving a state of trance, but rather on nurturing precise acting in a state of sharpened consciousness.

The Constant Prince and Apocalypsis Cum Figuris were apogees of ecstatic acting, and also exemplified the concept of "poor theatre," about which Peter Brook wrote in The Empty Space, published around the same time—. In Poland there is a small company lead by a visionary, Jerzy Grotowski, that also has a sacred aim.

The theatre, he believes, cannot be an end in itself; like dancing or music in certain dervish orders, the theatre is a vehicle, a means for self-study, a means for self-study, self-exploration, a possibility of salvation. The actor has himself as his field of work.


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In the s Jerzy Grotowski slowly began to abandon theatre and ceased staging productions entirely. He deepened his studies into Central Asian culture and schools of spirituality. In he took his third trip to the East, travelling to India. Earlier, he had voyaged to Central Asia in and visited China in He also travelled to Mexico, Haiti and elsewhere, searching for elements of technique in traditional ritual practices that could have a discernible effect on participants.

He spent time in Haiti and in Rome, where he delivered a series of important lectures on the topic of theatre anthropology at the University of Rome La Sapienza in before seeking political asylum in the United States.

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His friends Andre and Mercedes Gregory helped Grotowski to settle in the US, where he taught at Columbia University for one year while attempting to find support for a new programme of research. This period constituted an attempt to transcend the separation between performer and spectator.

In the model of culture postulated by Grotowski, no one was a consumer, while everyone had the right to create. Subsequent endeavours, referred to as projects, were publicized and open to all those willing to participate. The actions sometimes went on for extended periods, and at times had the participants find themselves in barren natural environments, attempting to provoke in them a deconditioning of impulse.

A telling account of the experience from the perspective of American theatre artist, Andre Gregory, is spoken about in the context of its time and American society in the film My Dinner with Andre, starring Gregory and Wallace Shawn. The funding for further work in Manhattan was not obtained, and in Grotowski was invited to UC Irvine, where he began a course of work known as 'Objective Drama'. This phase was an investigation of the psychophysiological impact of selected songs and other performative elements derived from traditional cultures.

It focused specifically on relatively simple techniques that could exert a discernible and predictable impact on the doer regardless of their belief structures or culture of origin. Ritual songs and related performative elements linked to Haitian and other African diaspora traditions became an especially fruitful tool of research.

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In , Grotowski was invited by Roberto Bacci to shift the base of his work to Pontedera, Italy, where he was offered an opportunity to conduct long-term research on performance without the pressure of having to show results. Grotowski characterized the focus of his attention in his final phase of research as "art as a vehicle," a term coined by Peter Brook. Grotowski's will declared the two his "universal heirs," holders of copyright on the entirety of his textual output and intellectual property.

His life cut short by his abrupt death in a plane crash, the theatre, television, opera and film director Konrad Swinarski is mentioned here for the fruitful and exceptionally strong impact he had on future generations of theatre makers.


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Unlike the aforementioned greats of 20th century theatre, he did not leave behind a body of plays, art objects, or methods of working that stretched the boundaries of theatre to later step right out of them. Konrad Swinarski worked in the theatre. What he brought into it was his own unbending vision, led by the idea of what art ought to bring to the human experience.

The director was born in the south-west of Poland, in the region of Silesia. When both of his parents died, he moved to stay with relatives in the city of Katowice. It was there that he took up his artistic education, starting at the PWSSP state higher school of the visual arts. Swinarski then moved to the coast and continued his studies at the Department of Interior Design. His Theory of Vision made a big impression on Swinarski, who joined the ST artistic group and exhibited with them. The fascination that proved crucial to his career was seeing a play by Bertold Brecht, whose group Berliner Ensemble was touring in Warsaw.

Swinarski obtained a scholarship and studied at the ensemble, playing the role of assistant to Brecht. He was captivated by a theatre that would not so much depict the world as it would try to change it. Swinarski believed the Brechtian aesthetic to be intricately bound with his political thought. Swinarski worked with many theatre companies in Poland and across the world.

He changed his repertoire, as well as the stages he directed on, and continually searched for new means of expression. But he continued to believe that artistic means are only there to express the stance that a director or actor has towards reality. Swinarski understood this purpose of theatre in an increasingly deep manner, and he searched for means of expression more apt to his own contemporary reality, and to the context found in Poland. The developed Swinarski is known to have employed a great variety of solutions and ideas in his stagings. There were purely real elements, such as vegetables and a live hen, there was the naturalistic suggestion of paint meant to look like blood, and then, there were also elements of the fantastic, straight out of the land of fairy tales - with horned devils and winged angels.

But Swinarski went further, not so much blurring the boundary between theatre and reality, as introducing reality and life into the theatre. In the words of theatre critic Treugutt, it seemed as if anything was possible:. With all elements treated on an equal level, their reality, in effect, began to seem questionable. This how historian and theatre critic Marta Fik describes the way in which a very coherent and, indeed, visionary, world was created by the artist. Marta Fik also wrote:.

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In all of these performances, life triumphed over fiction. Quite the contrary … It also turned out that Romantic heroes who are treated like real figures made of flesh and blood do not lose any of their extraordinary character. But it is no longer a superhuman and ideal kind of nature, but rather one that is very human indeed.

Swinarski has been hailed a true romantic for the knot of contradictions he both impersonated and lived. Much like the romantics, he continually took on the theme of conflict between society and the individual, with echoes of the duality in morality and reality, and the juxtaposition of feelings and politics. Before turning his attention to theatre, Lupa was briefly a student at the Physics Department of Jagiellonian University in Krakow, and in , he obtained a degree in graphic design.

This path towards the theatre, starting from the visual arts and stopping by at the Film School, resembles that of Swinarski. Lupa has admitted that Swinarski taught him to explore the meaning of individual scenes and to work with actors. He was also fascinated by the work of Tadeusz Kantor and his view of the function of the actor. On the other hand, Carl Gustav Jung proved to be the most influential philosopher and thinker to Lupa:.

Lupa made his professional theatre debut in , with a production of Slawomir Mrozek 's Slaughterhouse at the Juliusz Slowacki Theatre in Krakow.

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He has worked in theatres all over Poland as well as in Germany, Greece and Austria. But he has created some of his most remarkable productions at the Stary Theatre in Krakow. Lupa also took on Austrian literature for the first time while at this Krakow theatre. Though "Mr. So far, Lupa has adapted six works by the Austrian provocateur. The latter play has also been presented to the Austrian public. But the Pole is an authority on Bernhard, and is even a chairman of the Austrian Thomas Bernhard private foundation. Lupa and Bernhard appear to be a perfect match. Bernhard's writing concerns the human being and its relations with others.