Grotowski and the “Objectivity” of Performance

  • Teemu Paavolainen
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)


Having now outlined the schematic contours of Jerzy Grotowski’s theatrical rhetoric, there are several reasons to concentrate on one specific production of his, so as to examine its embodiment in a very specific “score” of performer-object interactions. Premiered in Opole in October 1962—staged with Józef Szajna, “to the words” of Stanisław Wyspiahski from 1904—Akropolis appears a watershed on many scores. It was during the preparations for this very production that Ludwik Flaszen first evinced the concept of the “poor theatre,” and that the group officially identified its work with the scientifically contained research of a laboratory. The first of Grotowski’s four acknowledged “masterpieces”—along with The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, The Constant Prince, and Apocalypsis cum figuris—it may well remain his best known, not least because it has been the only one readily available on video. In five slightly different “variants,” it was performed both domestically (to meager acclaim) and internationally (to considerable acclaim) for nearly eight years, “set[ting] the style and tone,” as Robert Findlay has it, “for much of the avant-garde experimentation of the late 1960s and early 1970s, both in Europe and in North America.”1


Concentration Camp Direct Perception Poor Theatre Laboratory Theatre Wedding Procession 
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© Teemu Paavolainen 2012

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  • Teemu Paavolainen

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