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Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999)

Grotowskis challenge was to question prevailing practice and to do it so with a radical alternative. Similarly to Artaud, Grotowski believed that the audience needed to be shocked to get at those psychic layers behind the life-mask by the experience of total theatre, rather than by political arguments. The only solution was to confront the audience with close encounters that demanded a spiritual re-examination on the part of the spectator. The confrontation of a man or a group of people with the phenomenon of the prescribed world becomes the work itself The actors being determined by their bodies. THEORY AND PRACTICEThe performance as an experiment into the actor/spectator relationship. Grotowski asks the question- What makes theatre unique? For him it was the actor and the actor alone who can give us the spiritual and mythic experiences we seek, and which e so conspicuously lack in both our everyday lives and todays theatre. Two distinct strands: The foregrounding of the actor as the holy and spiritual figure; The establishment of unique and confrontational environments for each new production, This new theatre consciously drew from the continental tradition of he actor as the comedian, a versatile and highly skilled actor whose intense physical presence was his overriding attribute. Physical theatre! Grotowski reminds us that the actor is at the core of the creation/the art. CAIN 1960- A production in which the actors addressed the audience directly and the audience themselves were given roles of Cains descendants. DZIADY (FOREFATHERS EVE) 1961- The audiences awareness of each other and their individual fragmented view of the production were both part of the performance style which sought to integrate the audience into what Grotowski called the relationship between ritual and play. The productions were demonstrations of the experience in the Laboratory theatre, where work was tested by exposure to an audience. TRAINING- Although Grotowski used certain techniques when he trained his actors, he did not want to endorse these because he felt that an actor should find his own unique methods and techniques. His methods were appropriate to him and his actors but that did not necessarily mean that they would have the same affect on all actors. Kind of suggesting- this is what I do and it works for me but it may not work for you. There were three categories of work: Exercises plastiques- rotations of the head, elbows, wrists, chest, hips and torso, the joints and limbs going in opposite/contradictory directions. Exercises corporals- suppleness in the spine. Has connection with Yoga. Vocal and Respiratory work Plastiques- Grotowski related these to what he called body memory, a belief that our entire body is memory, and it is by means of the body memory that the impulses are released. He

went on to suggest that this memory was only waiting to be released from the body what had stored certain experiences of life. Breathing- Use the air. Dont economise. Take air when its necessary, and afterwards dont economise on it. It is that that works, its not only the vocal apparatus but the outbreath. Key points to sum: Training was just as important as performance. It is intensely physical It sought to isolate specific movements; The actor was to be a receptive and creative being.

One of his main aims through confrontation with the performance, to analyse himself. AKROPOLIS 1962- The performance bean with the props and costume stages on stage. Nothing was brought onto the stage in the performance; everything that was used was there from the beginning. THE TRAGICAL HISTORY O DOCTOR FAUSTUS 1963- We preferred to forget the spectator, forget his existence. We began to concentrate our complete attention and activity on, above all the art of the actor. THE CONSTANT PRINCE 1965- Ryszard Cieslak was the lead and after this performance, he was considered one of the great actors of his time. His performance was acknowledged as transcendent, the result of hours of individual work with Grotowski to whom he had committed his professional life. The audience were positioned as voyeurs, overseeing and hearing the terrible acts that took place below. (Audience positioned above the actors- they are not involved with the performance) The spectator, distanced in space, placed in a position of an observer who is not even accepted, who remains exclusively in the position of observer, is really in a position to coparticipate emotively, in that he way eventually discover in himself the primitive vocation of he spectator. When you are the spectator you see the potential in the performer- act in life! Feel! The most recognisable parallel noted between Artaud and Grotowski was their wish to disturb and shock a receptive audience through the power of the show to an emotional response. APOCALYPSIS CUM FIGURIS 1969-80- This was the first production which evolved out of exercises and improvisations which specifically sought to facilitate the actors selfexploration. It was more to do with the self-development of the individual rather than the company piece, each actor was able to reach his or her own personal total act. The speech came last. Grotowskis role as the director changed in his production and he took more of a role as an observer. This saw the work of the Laboratory theatre become more company centredtheatre as therapy, paratheatre. The actors were indistinguishable from the spectators. Summary: The actors training ran alongside regular public performances; The progressive actor training marked the mergence of the holy actor Classic texts drawn from Polands romantic past were adapted to meet the demands of the Laboratorys work Montage was the means by which different sources were integrated;

For each production there was created a unique actor/audience relationship; Emotional expressionist performances shocked the spectator Props were evident from the beginning of the work and nothing was introduced into the space that was not there at the start Costumes reflected the environment and has nothing to do with the characters Performance encouraged identification with the actor, by which means an audience would be moved to re-examine themselves The means was through reconstructed mythic and religious texts.

TOWARDS A POOR THEATRE published in Polish 1965, in English 1967- rethinking of the actors relationship with the space he worked in. Main points of this publication: He maintained that the personal and scenic techniques of the actor [is] the core of theatre art. everything is concentrated on the ripening of the actor a complete stripping down the actor makes a total gift of himself. With the actor is at the centre of creativity, rather than the training process that is inductive (a series of learnt skills), his actors process was deductive, what he calls the via negativa or eradication of blocks. Poor theatre- stripping away and exploiting its intrinsic uniqueness. the essential concern is finding the proper spectator-actor relationship for each type of performance and embodying the decision in physical arrangements. Poor= actor revealed. No false noses, no makeup, transformation was to be effected by using his own body and craft, the mask is to be achieved by the actors own muscles not by a piece of painted paper mache. Transformations of objects are revealed by the way they are handled; the floor can become the sea, an upturned table a boat to sail on it. Such radical cutting away and denial of the tangible works towards the actor as a spiritual centre of all performance activity. The actor must be: He must be attentive Confident and free His growth is attended y observation By astonishment And desire to help My growth is onto him Or rather is found in him Our common growth becomes a revelation. the actor is re-born- not only as an actor but as a man- and with him, I am reborn THE HOLY ACTOR- is an actor who rids himself of tricks and rather than accumulating a series of skills (inductive technique) he strips away inhibitions and lies to reveal the total act (the deductive techniques). Grotowski begins by deploring the role of the actor in society, likening him/her to a prostitute who is paid to display his/her art. Rather he suggests that in offering his body publicly, the actor, through training should be seen to move beyond the mere imitation of the everyday to a higher plane of spirituality where the outcome is evidence of his/her holiness. the body vanishes, burns and the spectator sees only a series of visible impulses. The stripping away of the mask of everyday and revealing the innermost core.