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

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