Jerzy Grotowski

  • David Bradby
  • David Williams
Part of the Modern Dramatists book series (MD)


Of all the directors under discussion in the book, none has enraged and engaged the imaginations of theatre practitioners and audiences over the past 20 years as profoundly as Jerzy Grotowski. Starting out as a director quite content to treat his actors as his raw material, he has changed and developed to the point where he now sees his role as simply that of a catalyst of others’ creativity. The major performances by his Laboratory Theatre — Akropolis, The Constant Prince, Apocalypsis cum Figuris — served as slaps in the face of the largely unfocused and complacent experimental theatre that mushroomed worldwide in the 1960s. The rigorous exigencies of his ethic have had extensive repercussions for the members of his group, carrying them beyond the domain of theatre, determining a way of life. However, despite the mass of material produced around the ‘Grotowski phenomenon’, much remains misunderstood or shrouded in the obscurantist mysticism that appears to characterise Grotowski’s own gnomic utterances (the fruit of a peculiarly Polish blend of Catholicism and existentialism).


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  1. 1.
    Throughout this chapter we are indebted to Jennifer Kumiega’s The Theatre of Grotowski (London: Methuen, 1985)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cited in Eugenio Barba, ‘Theatre Laboratory 13 Rzedow’, Drama Review, T27 (Spring 1965) 157.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre (London: Eyre Methuen, 1975) p. 25.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Ibid., p. 16. Cf. Peter Brook’s avowed aim in The Empty Space (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968)Google Scholar
  5. 13.
    ‘Holiday — the Day that is Holy’, tr. from Grotowski’s Polish original by Boleslaw Taborski, Drama Review, T58 (June 1973) 116.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Bradby and David Williams 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Bradby
  • David Williams

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