Fillmore: The Beats in the Western Addition

“If all art aspires to the condition of music, then in the postwar coteries that would sometimes be called beat, that music was jazz, and its salient qualities were spontaneity, improvisation, collaboration, subversion, low and outlaw status, hipness/coolness, and an indigenous, hybrid, vernacular Americanism distinct from the Europhilia that had overwhelmed their predecessors. For visual artists jazz would be enormously important in that era, and one source of this cross-pollination was the presence of so many of the visual artists and poets of beat-era San Francisco in the Fillmore District. Though cheap rent was also part of the draw, the ambience was important. The poet Michael McClure told me, ‘North Beach was like a reservation in which there was a free space for bohemians and oddballs of all stripes to meet in between the Italian and the Chinese districts in what was still a remarkably inexpensive part of town with lots of [residential] hotels. A lot of those very constructive people got out of there in ’56 or ’57 when the ‘beatnik’ thing started–because of the tour buses–and the obvious place to go was the Western Addition. We were enjoying the black stores, the black ambience, the black music,’ recalls McClure. ‘We had our faces toward them but our butts towards Pacific Heights.’  … It was a predominantly African-American neighborhood from Haight to California Streets, Van Ness to Masonic, and most of the African-Americans had arrived not long before, during World War II. The imprisonment of the neighborhood’s Japanese-descent population was part of what opened the area to them. Through the 1950s central Fillmore Street was the ‘Harlem of the West,’ with nightclubs, bars, theaters and more fostering a dynamic cultural life. … It was a period of mixing it up, of bringing ideas and epiphanies from one medium to another, a period when not only jazz (and later, rhythm and blues and rock’n’roll), but esoteric and occult traditions, contemporary politics, popular culture, mass media, drugs, sex, and non-European traditions as well as dada and surrealism influenced and appeared in the work. From it emerged the great experimental films of Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, Larry Jordan, Kenneth Anger, the paintings of Jay DeFeo, Wally Hedrick, Jess, Artie Richer, Joan Brown, the collages and assemblages of Conner, Jess, Berman, George Herms, Edward Kienholz, and an array of great poetry by Jack Spicer, David Meltzer, Robert Duncan, Michael McClure, tied to the other poets’ circles that included Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Bob Kaufman, and many more. …”
Found SF
The Art Scene Rebels of San Francisco
W – Six Gallery reading, Verdant Press: Six Gallery, Beatitude – Nos. 1-34, J – Jack Spicer, etc.
The Beats, Zen, the Panthers and the Dead
amazon: Fillmore West Final Farewell 4TH July 1971

Bekins Moving & Storage workers remove The Rose from Jay DeFeo’s home and studio at 2322
Fillmore Street, November 9, 1965.
Posted in Allen Ginsberg, Bill Graham, Black Power, Grateful Dead, Haight-Ashbury, Happenings, Jack Kerouac, Jazz, Music, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Muhammad Ali Explains Why He Refused to Fight in Vietnam: “My Conscience Won’t Let Me Go Shoot My Brother… for Big Powerful America” (1970)

“In April of 1967, Muhammad Ali arrived at the U.S. Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station in Houston, Texas. ‘Standing beside twenty-five other nerve-racked young men called to the draft,’ writes David Remnick at The New Yorker, Ali ‘refused to respond to the call of Cassius Clay!.’ Offered the choice of going to Vietnam or to jail, he chose the latter ‘and was sentenced to five years in prison and released on bail.’ Ali lost his title, his boxing license, his passport, and — as far as he knew at the time — his career. He was newly married with his first child on the way. When Ali refused to go to Vietnam, he was ‘already one of America’s greatest heavyweights ever,’ notes USA Today. ‘He’d won an Olympic gold medal for the United States in Rome when he was just 18 and four years later, against all odds, defeated Sonny Liston to win his first title as world champion.’ Ali, it seemed, could do no wrong, as long as he agreed to play a role that made Americans comfortable. He refused to do that too, becoming a Muslim in 1961, changing his name in 1964, and speaking out in his inimitable style against racism and American imperialism. Ali stood on principle as a conscientious objector at a time when resisting the Vietnam War made him extremely unpopular. Sports Illustrated called him ‘another demagogue and an apologist for his so-called religion’ and pronounced that ‘his views of Vietnam don’t deserve rebuttal.’ Television host David Susskind called him ‘a disgrace to his country’ and even Jackie Robinson felt Ali was ‘hurting… the morale of a lot of young Negro soldiers over in Vietnam.’ … But the country also gave Ali the opportunity to take his case to the Supreme Court, as his lawyer told Howard Cosell in the ABC news segment at the top. ‘Ali had no intention of fleeing to Canada,’ DeNeen L. Brown writes at The Washington Post, ‘but he also had no intention of serving in the Army.’ Ali strung together a living giving speaking engagements at anti-war events around the country for the next few years as he fought the verdict. … Ali remained prominently in the public eye throughout his appeal. He had become a ‘fixture on the TV talk show circuit in the precable days of the 1960s and ‘70s,’ writes Stephen Battaglio in a LA Times review of the recent documentary Ali & Cavett. He remained so during his hiatus from boxing thanks in no small part to Dick Cavett, who had Ali on frequently for everything from ‘serious discussions of race relations in the U.S. to playful confrontations aimed at promoting fights.’ …”
Open Culture (Video)

In this April 28, 1967 file photo, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali is escorted from the Armed Forces Examining and Entrance Station in Houston by Lt. Col. J. Edwin McKee, commandant of the station, after Ali refused Army induction. Ali says he was a conscientious objector who would not serve in the Army of a country that treated members of his race as second-class citizens. 
Posted in Draft board, Religion, Sports, Vietnam War | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How Cuba Remembers Its Revolutionary Past and Present

Castro’s cabin at the rebel headquarters had a simple bed, a fridge, a study and a secret trapdoor, in case he came under attack. 

“It’s not hard to see why Fidel Castro’s guerrilla headquarters during the Cuban revolutionary war was never found by the army. Even today, getting to the command post feels like a covert mission. Known as Comandancia La Plata, the remote hide-out was built in the spring of 1958 in the succulent rainforest of the Sierra Maestra at Cuba’s eastern tip, and it still lies at the end of steep, treacherous, unpaved roads. There are no road signs in the Sierra, so photographer João Pina and I had to stop our vehicle and ask for directions from passing campesinos on horseback while zigzagging between enormous potholes and wandering livestock. In the hamlet of Santo Domingo, we filled out paperwork in quadruplicate to secure access permits, before an official government guide ushered us into a creaky state-owned four-wheel-drive vehicle. This proceeded to wheeze its way up into one of the Caribbean’s last wilderness areas, with breathtaking views of rugged green peaks at every turn. The guide, Omar Pérez, then directed us toward a steep hiking trail, which ascends for a mile into the forest. Rains had turned stretches into muddy streams, and the near-100 percent humidity had us soaked with sweat after only a few steps. A spry local farmer, Pérez pushed us along with mock-military exhortations of Vámanos, muchachos! By the time I spotted the first shack—the dirt-floored field hospital set up by the young medical graduate Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara—I looked like a half-wild guerrilla myself. In any other country, the Comandancia would make an excellent eco-lodge, but in Cuba it remains one of the revolution’s most intimate historical shrines. The base was first carved out in April 1958 and continued to be Fidel’s main command post until December 1958, as the guerrillas gained one unexpected victory after the next and began to seize the rest of the island. Its 16 thatch-roofed huts were home to some 200 rebel soldiers and had the ambience of a self-contained—and strikingly beautiful—jungle republic. The structures are all original, Pérez insisted, and are lovingly labeled with wooden signs. Che’s hospital was used to treat wounded guerrillas and enemy soldiers, and ill local peasant supporters. (‘Che performed a lot of dentistry here,’ Pérez said. ‘Not very well.’) Paths lead to the press office, where the rebels’ newspaper, El Cubano Libre, was produced mostly by hand. At the summit, Radio Rebelde was transmitted around Cuba using an antenna that could be raised and lowered unseen. …”
¡Cuba, Cuba! 65 Years of Photography
Guardian – This is the real Cuba: a timeline of gripping photography since the 50s

Fidel Castro (seated left) and his comrades in revolution review plans at the Sierra Maestra command post in 1958.
Posted in Che, Cuban Revolution | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dangerous Visions – Harlan Ellison (1967 – Editor)

Dangerous Visions is a science fiction short story anthology edited by American writer Harlan Ellison and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. It was published in 1967. A path-breaking collection, Dangerous Visions helped define the New Wave science fiction movement, particularly in its depiction of sex in science fiction. Writer/editor Al Sarrantonio writes how Dangerous Visions ‘almost single-handedly […] changed the way readers thought about science fiction.’ Contributors to the volume included 20 authors who had won, or would win, a Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, or BSFA award, and 16 with multiple such awards. Ellison introduced the anthology both collectively and individually while authors provided afterwords to their own stories. Advertisements described Dangerous Visions as ‘For the first time anywhere—33 great new stories by all the science fiction masters of our time’, and ‘Not collected from magazines, not collected from other books … one of the biggest anthologies of original material ever assembled in any field’. The stories and the anthology itself were nominated for and received many awards. ‘Gonna Roll the Bones‘ by Fritz Leiber received both a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award for Best novelette, whilst Philip K. Dick‘s submission ‘Faith of Our Fathers’ was a nominee for the Hugo in the same category. Philip José Farmer tied for the Hugo Award for Best Novella for ‘Riders of the Purple Wage‘. Samuel R. Delany won the Nebula for Best Short Story for ‘Aye, and Gomorrah…‘ Harlan Ellison received a special citation at the 26th World SF Convention for editing ‘the most significant and controversial SF book published in 1967.’ ‘You should buy this book immediately’, Algis Budrys wrote, ‘because this is a book that knows perfectly that you are seething inside’. He especially praised ‘Sex and/or Mr. Morrison‘. Dave Langford reviewed Dangerous Visions for White Dwarf #94, and stated that ‘poked at all SF’s taboos, remains a quicky mix of achievement and hype, of stories still brilliantly fresh and stories already moribund two decades ago.’ The popular collection was followed by an even larger 1972 sequel, Again, Dangerous Visions. The projected third collection, The Last Dangerous Visions, was started, but controversially remains unpublished. The final book has become something of a legend as science fiction’s most famous unpublished book. It was originally announced for publication in 1973, but other work demanded Ellison’s attention and the anthology has not seen print to date. He has come under criticism for his treatment of some writers who submitted their stories to him, whom some estimate to number nearly 150 (and many of whom have died in the ensuing more than four decades since the anthology was first announced). …”
A Look Back at Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions by Ted Gioia
[PDF] Dangerous Visions

Posted in Books | Tagged | 1 Comment

Something Else Press

Wolf Vostell, dé-coll/age happenings (1966). Translated by Laura P. Miller. Wooden box with sliding plexiglass panel as cover. Contents include book plus 15 folded posters, silk-screen print, one package of Bromo-Seltzer mounted on mirrored Mylar, and one piece of matzoh.

“Designed, edited, and produced by Dick Higgins, the Something Else Press books contained offbeat and avant-garde writing in a neat and tidy, yet quirky and distinctive form. The press began in 1964 following Higgins’s break with Fluxus founder George Maciunas and embodied many of the concerns of the then nascent art movement. Early titles included Jefferson’s Birthday/Postface, Higgins’s collection of performance scores; mail art pioneer Ray Johnson’s The Paper Snake, Al Hansen’s A Primer of Happenings & Time/Space Art, and Romanian-born Nouveau réaliste artist Daniel Spoerri’s An Anecdoted Topography of Chance. Higgins’s foew&ombwhnw (a 1969 collection disguised as a prayer book) contains his important essay ‘Intermedia,’ in which he describes artworks which ‘fall between media,’ arguing that the social conditions of the time (early to mid-1960s) no longer allowed for a ‘compartmentalized approach’ to either art or life. Indeed, the range of works published by Something Else exemplifies a very diverse approach: first American editions of several of Gertrude Stein’s works, including The Making of Americans; a reprint of Henry Cowell’s New Musical Resources; Merce Cunningham’s Changes: Notes on Choreography; John Cage’s anthology of unusual musical scores, Notations; Jackson Mac Low’s Stanzas for Iris Lezak; R[ichard] Meltzer’s The Aesthetics of Rock; One Thousand American Fungi by Charles McIlvaine and Robert K. Macadam; as well as Emmett Williams’s important Anthology of Concrete Poetry, among many others. Artists’ books, critical theory, conceptual art, amusement, back-to-the-land hippie culture—through the use of conventional production and marketing strategies, Dick Higgins was able to place unconventional works into the hands of new and often unsuspecting readers. Something Else Press had published more than sixty books when it ended in 1974, in addition to pamphlets, newsletters, cards, posters, and other ephemera. …”
From a Secret Location
W – Something Else Press
Something Else Press Newsletters 1966-83
Granary Books: [PDF] The Something Else Press Collection
Brooklyn Rail: Intermedia, Fluxus, and the Something Else Press: Selected Writings by Dick Higgins
vimeo: Dick Higgins – “Something Else Press and Since: a lecture by Dick Higgins”

Wolf Vostell and Dick Higgins, eds., Fantastic Architecture [1970 or 1971].
Posted in Books, Hippie, Poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Eula Biss on How Motherhood Radicalized Adrienne Rich

“‘… He had heard about ‘essential workers’ in the news, I realized, and he was telling me that, from his point of view, I was an essential worker. I would remember this term, life worker, months later when I saw video footage of the Wall of Moms in Portland, women who were leveraging the symbolic power of motherhood in support of Black Lives Matter protesters, chanting, ‘Feds stay clear, the moms are here!’ In her 1986 introduction to Of Woman Born, Adrienne Rich warns of a tendency, particularly among white women, to idealize motherhood, to conflate motherhood with moral authority, and to participate in the kind of thinking once used to justify a ‘separate sphere’ for women. But the mothers of the Wall of Moms were doing what some people once feared women would do if they were given the right to vote. And their protest suggests the potential of motherhood to radicalize mothers, which is what it did for Rich. I felt the first stirrings of that potential over a decade ago, when my child was an infant. … Back then, I didn’t fully understand my resistance to calling myself a mother, but I understand it now, and all the more clearly after reading Of Woman Born. What I was resisting was becoming a role, rather than a person. I didn’t want to enter the institution of motherhood. … I was overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. Within the institution of motherhood, I felt every emotion Rich noted feeling fifty years before I became a mother—ambivalence, weariness, demoralization, powerlessness, and rage. … I am two generations removed from Rich’s experience, and my understanding with my husband is that my work is as real as his. Still, as a new mother I struggled to do the unpaid work of mothering and the mostly unpaid work of writing while also doing the paid work of teaching, which subsidized my other work. And now, with childcare unavailable during the pandemic, I am once again struggling to do my work as an artist while doing the work of mothering. Rich’s predicament, as a mother who was also an artist, remains a predicament today. And what she did with that predicament, what she did with her rage and frustration, remains deeply instructive. Of Woman Born lays bare the cultural and medical and economic practices that define motherhood, and exposes how our everyday experience of mothering is shaped by this enduring institution. The institution of motherhood, Rich writes, is superimposed over the potential of motherhood. This is the potential relationship women might have to our reproductive powers and to children. The institution of motherhood limits the full range of possibilities, and limits our ability to imagine them. …”
A Change of World: An oral history of poetry and the women’s movement.
[PDF] Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution

Posted in Books, Feminist | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Hustler – Robert Rossen (1961)

The Hustler is a 1961 American CinemaScope drama film directed by Robert Rossen from Walter Tevis‘s 1959 novel of the same name, adapted for the screen by Rossen and Sidney Carroll. It tells the story of small-time pool hustler ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson and his desire to break into the ‘major league’ of professional hustling and high-stakes wagering by high-rollers that follows it. He throws his raw talent and ambition up against the best player in the country, seeking to best the legendary pool player ‘Minnesota Fats‘. After initially losing to Fats and getting involved with unscrupulous manager Bert Gordon, Eddie returns to try again, but only after paying a terrible personal price. The film was shot on location in New York City and stars Paul Newman as ‘Fast’ Eddie Felson; Jackie Gleason as Minnesota Fats; Piper Laurie as Sarah; and George C. Scott as Bert. It was followed by The Color of Money in 1986, with Newman reprising his role. The Hustler was a major critical and popular success, gaining a reputation as a modern classic. Its exploration of winning, losing, and character garnered a number of major awards; it is also credited with helping to spark a resurgence in the popularity of pool. … Rossen filmed The Hustler over six weeks, entirely in New York City. Much of the action was filmed at two now-defunct pool halls, McGirr’s and Ames Billiard Academy. Other shooting locations included a townhouse on East 82nd Street, which served as the Louisville home of Murray Hamilton’s character Findley, and the Manhattan Greyhound bus terminal. The film crew built a dining area that was so realistic that confused passengers sat there and waited to place their orders. Willie Mosconi served as technical advisor on the film and shot a number of the trick shots in place of the actors. All of Gleason’s shots were his own; they were filmed in wide-angle to emphasize having the actor and the shot in the same frames. Rossen, in pursuit of the style he termed ‘neo-neo-realistic’, hired actual street thugs, enrolled them in the Screen Actors Guild and used them as extras. Scenes that were included in the shooting script but did not make it into the final film include a scene at Ames pool hall establishing that Eddie is on his way to town (originally slated to be the first scene of the film) and a longer scene of Preacher talking to Bert at Johnny’s Bar which establishes Preacher is a junkie. Early shooting put more focus on the pool playing, but during filming Rossen made the decision to place more emphasis on the love story between Newman and Laurie’s characters. … The Hustler is fundamentally a story of what it means to be a human being, couched within the context of winning and losing. Describing the film, Robert Rossen said: ‘My protagonist, Fast Eddie, wants to become a great pool player, but the film is really about the obstacles he encounters in attempting to fulfill himself as a human being. He attains self-awareness only after a terrible personal tragedy which he has caused — and then he wins his pool game.’ …”
Criterion Channel (Video)
YouTube: The Hustler | Trailer

Posted in Movie | Tagged | 1 Comment

John Coltrane – Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album (2018)

“Expectations ran high when it was announced last month that a lost (!) John Coltrane album, Both Directions at Once, had been discovered by the family of his ex-wife Naima, and would finally be released for fans to hear. Would it prove worthy of Sonny Rollin’s comparison to ‘finding a new room in the Great Pyramid’? Such discoveries can lead to dead ends and disappointments as often as to revelations. In this case, the album yields neither, which is not to say it isn’t, as Chris Morris writes at Variety, ‘a godsend.’ The album lives up to its title, chosen by Coltrane’s son Ravi, as a transitional document, stunning, but not particularly surprising. Hear all 7 cuts on the single-disc version of the release on this page, with typically excellent playing by Coltrane’s classic quartet (bassist Jimmy Garrison, drummer Elvin Jones, and pianist McCoy Tyner) and an early take on ‘one of the warhorses of the Coltrane catalog’—’Impressions’—including three additional takes on the Deluxe Version, which you can stream on Spotify here or purchase here. (Tyner sits out the take on the single disc version, turning it into a ‘hard-edged, percolating showcase for Coltrane in trio format.’) Several critics have suggested that this “lost album” isn’t a proper album at all, but rather, as Ravi Coltrane put it, ‘a kicking-the-tires kind of session,’ and perhaps that’s so. Nonetheless, it works as ‘a portrait of an artist and a band on the brink of a historic explosion,’ Morris writes. … Others echo this assessment. Drowned in Sound’s Joe Goggins calls Both Directions at Once ‘hard evidence that he was still looking for new sounds within old structures,’ and The New Yorker’s Richard Brody describes the session as ‘something of a stocktaking’ that balances the experiments of the band’s live sets with the reigned-in discipline of its early 60s studio work. Brody also laments that ‘little on the album matches the music that Coltrane was making at the time in concert.’ … All of this internal tension makes for an exciting listen, especially in its two new originals, known only as ‘Untitled Original 11383’ and ‘Untitled Original 11386,’ and the 11-minute ‘Slow Blues,’ which Morris aptly describes as ‘a geared-down, encyclopedic workout on blues changes’ that builds, after its tempo doubles, to a ‘full-cry conclusion.’ In all, the new lost album shows Coltrane just about to break new ground, but not quite yet, which perhaps makes it a newly essential document for the Coltrane completist. For most lovers of the great innovator, it’s just a damn fine ‘new’ Coltrane record, both daring and accessible at once. …”
Open Culture (Video)
John Coltrane’s ‘Lost Album’ Is A Window Into His Pursuit Of The Impossible (Audio)
Guardian – Full scream ahead: John Coltrane’s Both Directions at Once (Audio)
W – Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album 7 videos

John Coltrane (right) with McCoy Tyner at New Jersey’s Van Gelder studios in 1963, one day after the session that would become the newly unveiled Both Directions at Once.
Posted in Jazz, Music | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“The Death of the Author” – Roland Barthes (1967)

Ecclesiastes famously warns us that ‘Of making many books there is no end’ – the same, of course, applies to book commentaries. George Steiner has long denounced the ‘mandarin madness of secondary discourse’ which increasingly interposes itself between readers and works of fiction. For better or worse, the internet – with its myriad book sites – has taken this phenomenon to a whole new level. Since Aristotle’s Poetics, literature has always given rise to its exegesis, but now that no scrap of literary gossip goes untweeted, it may be time to reflect a little on the activity of literary criticism. I have chosen to inaugurate this series with a few considerations on ‘The Death of the Author’ because of its truly iconic nature: it symbolises the rise of what would come to be known as “theory”. Even if he never names them, Roland Barthes (like Proust before him) launches an attack on the traditional biography-based criticism à la Sainte-Beuve or Lanson which still dominated French academia in the sixties. The paradox, of course, is that this essay – with its symbolic slaying of the paternal ‘Author-God’ – could lend itself to a textbook psychological reading given that Barthes lost his own father before his first birthday. The ‘Death of the Author’ theme itself takes on added meaning, in hindsight, when you consider that Barthes’s critical career was, at least in part, a displacement activity to avoid writing the novel he dreamed of. Does any of this invalidate his theories? I’ll let you be the judge of that… In 2002, the prestigious Pompidou Centre in Paris devoted a major exhibition, not to an artist, philosopher, scientist or novelist, but a literary critic: Roland Barthes. Now that the ‘theory wars’ – which had once torn apart literature departments on both sides of the Atlantic – were largely over, it served as a reminder of a time when a posse of structuralists and post-structuralists superseded the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre as France’s premier intellectual icons. Many of them were primarily philosophers, anthropologists, historians, linguists or psychoanalysts – Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva et al – but the locus of this intellectual revolution was undoubtedly literary criticism. La nouvelle critique was flavour of the month, much like its culinary counterpart, nouvelle cuisine, albeit more of a mouthful. Critics-cum-thinkers such as Barthes himself – who was equally at home at the lofty Collège de France or down the trendy Le Palace nightclub – achieved bona fide celebrity status. Their works often became bestsellers in spite of their demanding and iconoclastic nature. Soon, NME journalists were peppering their articles with arcane references to Baudrillard while Scritti Politti dedicated a postmodern ditty to Jacques Derrida. The whole movement seemed as provocative, and indeed exciting, as Brigitte Bardot in her slinky, sex kitten heyday. Its defining moment was the publication of a racy little number called ‘The Death of the Author’. …”
Guardian – In theory: The Death of the Author
How much resonance does Roland Barthes’ The Death of the Author really have?
[PDF] The Death of the Author
YouTube: The Death of the Author: WTF? Roland Barthes’ Death of the Author Explained | Tom Nicholas

Posted in Books, Paris, Religion | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Towards a Poor Theatre – Jerzy Grotowski (1968)

“As theatre directors go, Jerzy Grotowski is up there alongside such greats as Stanislavski, Artaud and Appia. A key figure in avant-garde theatre, during the 1960s and 70s he became known for his intense investigations into the nature of the relationship between actor and audience and for his experiments with the physical and spiritual aspects of theatre. Rather than confining himself to the traditional stage, Grotowski preferred non-traditional spaces such as buildings or rooms. Usually, the audience was seated within the action, becoming, in a way, a part of the performance. He called this ‘poor theatre’ – a performance which focuses more on the skill of the actor without the usual excess of traditional theatre such as costumes and detailed sets. Born in Rzeszów, southern Poland, on August 11, 1933, after finishing his acting studies at the State Higher School of Theatre in Kraków, Grotowski went to Moscow’s Lunacharsky Institute of Theatre Arts. There, he studied directing, learning the craft from pupils of such Russian giants as Stanislavski and Vsevolod Meyerhold. After returning to Poland, in 1957 he made his debut as a director with Eugene Ionesco’s ‘The Chairs’ and began giving lectures on Asian philosophy at the Kraków’s student club. In 1959 he moved from Kraków to smaller town of Opole, also in southern Poland, where he began his own experimental style theatre Teatr 13 Rzędów (Thirteen Row Theatre). In 1965, he closed the theatre down and moved to the city of Wrocław, where he reopened the theatre under the name Laboratory Theatre. By now his fame was beginning to spread and his adaptation of Marlowe’s ‘The Tragic Fate of Doctor Faust’ – which saw the audience sitting around a large table used by the actors as a stage, had been made into a film. In the same year, he wrote a theoretical study titled ‘Towards a Poor Theatre’. Published into English in 1968, with an introduction by the British director Peter Brook, it quickly became a Bible for exploratory theatre. … The end of the 60’s was marked by what is probably his best known staging, ‘Apocalypsis Cum Figuris’. Based on texts taken from the Bible, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Simone Weil and Thomas S. Eliot, this was a breakthrough production which saw Grotowski and his company tour virtually all major international theatre festivals. …”
Jerzy Grotowski: ‘Eccentric genius’ who reinvented theatre
W – Jerzy Grotowski
[PDF] Towards a Poor Theatre
YouTube: Poor Unfortunate Theater: Crash Course Theater #48 13:06

Jerzy Grotowski (L) with English theatre and film director Peter Brook (R) in Warsaw
Posted in Books, Street theater | Tagged , | 1 Comment