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Episode Info:

Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999) undoubtedly had a profound infl­uence on the transformation of contemporary theatre over the last 40 years.

Starting out as a young director in the Polish provinces, he soon realised that for theatre to reach its true potential as a communion between actor and spectator and survive in the age of mass entertainment, the actor should attain complete mastery over their craft. His small group of actors committed to intensive daily training sessions to achieve this, while Grotowski began to radically experiment with theatrical texts in order to achieve his vision.

But having achieved international recognition for his ground-breaking productions in the mid to late 1960s, he decided to leave theatre behind and start all over again…..

This episode is a Stories From The Eastern West collaboration with the Theatre History Podcast, produced by Howlround Theatre Commons,a free and open platform for theatremakers worldwide, based in Boston, Massachusetts. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram.

Time stamps

[00:55] Intro
[03:38] The beginning
[05:15] A new phase of intensive training
[08:16] The rehearsal process
[10:31] Out into the world
[13:33] Do we need spectators?
[15:34] A different direction
[17:39] Travels to Haiti
[18:11] Dangerous times
[19:47] Thanks & credits

Further watching
  • Letter From Opole / (1963, dir. Michaela Elstera) short film providing a glimpse into the work of Grotowski's team at the Theatre of 13 Rows in Opole. Only in Polish, but worth checking out for non-Polish speakers nonetheless
Further reading Also worth visiting Thanks

Prof. Paul Allain / for talking to us about Grotowski's life, work, and his important influence on the world of the performing arts. Paul is a Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent and former director of the British Grotowski Project.

Maja Komorowska / sharing with us her experience of working with Grotowski and the Theatre of the 13 Rows in the early 1960s. Maja is an acclaimed theatre, film and television actress.

Thomas and Cécile Richards / for giving their time and helping make this episode possible. Thomas Richards is the Director of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards in Pontedera, Italy. Cecile is Richard’s assistant and a member of the centre.

Grażyna Soczewka / for skillfully providing the English voice-over for Maja Komorowska.

Episode credits
  • Michael Lueger (Theatre History Podcast): co-presenter

  • Wojciech Oleksiak: sound design, mixing

  • Piotr Wołodźko: co-presenter, script, production

  • Nitzan Reisner: co-host, ambassador of righteousness

  • Adam Zulawski: co-host, editor

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