The result is supposed to be contribution to modern staging - scenography using current sculptural or electronic ideas, contemporary music, actors in- dependently projecting clownish or cabaret stereotypes. I know that scene: I used to be part of it. Our Theatre Laboratory productions are going in another direction. In the first place, we are trying to avoid eclecticism, trying to resist thinking of theatre as a composite of disciplines.

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The result is supposed to be contribution to modern staging - scenography using current sculptural or electronic ideas, contemporary music, actors in- dependently projecting clownish or cabaret stereotypes. I know that scene: I used to be part of it. Our Theatre Laboratory productions are going in another direction.

In the first place, we are trying to avoid eclecticism, trying to resist thinking of theatre as a composite of disciplines. We are seeking to define what is distinctively theatre, what separates this activity from other categories of performance and spectacle. Secondly, our productions are detailed investigations of the actor-audience relationship. That is, we consider the personal and scenic technique of the actor as the core of theatre art.

It is difficult to locate the exact sources of this approach, but I can speak of its tradition. I was brought up on Stanislavski; his persistent study, his systematic renewal of the methods of observation, and his dialectical relationship to his own earlier work make him my personal ideal. Stanislavski asked the key methodological questions. Our solutions, however, differ widely from his - sometimes we reach opposite conclusions.

I have studied all the major actor-training methods of Europe and beyond. Also particularly stimulating to me are the training techniques of oriental theatre - specifically the Peking Opera, Indian Kathakali, and Japanese No theatre. I could cite other theatrical systems, but the method which we are developing is not a combination of techniques borrowed from these sources although we sometimes adapt elements for our use. The actor makes a total gift of himself.

The result is freedom from the time-lapse between inner impulse and outer reaction in such a way that the impulse is already an outer reaction. Impulse and action are concurrent: the body vanishes, burns, and the spectator sees only a series of visible impulses. Ours then is a via negativa - not a collection of skills but an eradication of blocks.

Years of work and of specially composed exercises which, by moans of physical, plastic and vocal training, attempt to guide the actor towards the right kind of concentration sometimes permit the discovery of the beginning of this road. Then it is possible to carefully cultivate what has been awakened. The process itself, though to some extent dependent upon concentration, confidence, exposure, and almost disappearance into the acting craft, is not voluntary.

The requisite state of mind is a passive readiness to realize an active role, a state in which one does not "want to do that" but rather "resigns from not doing it. In their daily work they do not concentrate on the spiritual technique but on the composition of the role, on the construction of form, on the expression of signs -i.

There is no contradiction between inner technique and artifice articulation of a role by signs. We believe that a personal process which is not supported and expressed by a formal articulation and disciplined structuring of the role is not a release and will collapse in shapelessness. We find that artificial composition not only does not limit the spiritual but actually leads to it. The tropistic tension between the inner process and the form strengthens both. The form is like a baited trap, to which the spiritual process responds spontaneously and against which it struggles.

The forms of common "natural" behavior obscure the truth; we compose a role as a system of signs which demonstrate what is behind the mask of common vision: the dialectics of human behavior. A sign, not a common gesture, is the elementary integer of expression for us.

In terms of formal technique, we do not work by proliferation of signs, or by accumulation of signs as in the formal repetitions of oriental theatre. Rather, we subtract, seeking distillation of signs by eliminating those elements of "natural" behavior which obscure pure impulse. Another technique which illuminates the hidden structure of signs is contradiction between gesture and voice, voice and word, word and thought, will and action, etc. It is difficult to say precisely what elements in our productions result from a consciously formulated program and what derive from the structure of our imagination.

I am frequently asked whether certain "medieval" effects indicate an intentional return to "ritual roots. At our present point of artistic awareness, the problem of mythic "roots," of the elementary human situation, has definite meaning.

However, this is not a product of a "philosophy of art" but comes from the practical discovery and use of the rules of theatre. That is, the productions do not spring from a priori aesthetic postulates; rather, Sartre has said: "Each technique leads to metaphysics. My friend and colleague Ludwik Flaszen was the first to point out this confusion in my work: the material and techniques which came spontaneously in preparing the production, from the very nature of the work, were revealing and promising; but what I had taken to be applications of theoretical assumptions were actually more functions of my personality than of my intellect.

I realized that the production led to awareness rather than being the product of awareness. Since , my emphasis has been on methodology. Through practical experimentation I sought to answer the questions with which I had begun: What is the theatre? What is unique about it? What can it do that film and television cannot? Two concrete conceptions crystallized: poor theatre, and performance as an act of transgression.

By gradually eliminating whatever proved superfluous, we found that theatre can exist without make-up, without autonomic costume and scenography, without a separate performance area stage , without lighting and sound effects, etc. It cannot exist without the actor-spectator relationship of perceptual, direct, "live" communion.

This is an ancient theoretical truth, of course, but when rigorously tested in practice it undermines most of our usual ideas about theatre.

It challenges the notion of theatre as a synthesis of disparate creative disciplines - literature, sculpture, painting, architecture, lighting, acting under the direction of a metteur-en-scene.

The Rich Theatre depends on artistic kleptomania, drawing from other disciplines, constructing hybridspectacles, conglomerates without backbone or integrity, yet presented as an organic artwork. By multiplying assimilated elements, the Rich Theatre tries to escape the impasse presented by movies and television. Since film and TV excel in the area of mechanical functions montage, Instantaneous change of place, etc.

This all nonsense. No matter how much theatre expands and exploits its mechanical resources, it will remain technologically inferior to film and television. Consequently, I propose poverty in theatre.

We have resigned from the stageand-auditorium plant: for each production, a new space is designed for the actors and spectators. Thus, infinite variation of performer-audience relationships is possible.

The actors can play among the spectators, directly contacting the audience and giving it a passive role in the drama e. Or the actors may play among the spectators and ignore them, looking through them.

The spectators may be separated from the actors - for example, by a high fence, over which only their heads protrude The Constant Prince, from Calderon ; from this radically slanted perspective, they look down on the actors as if watching animals in a ring, or like medical students watching an operation also, this detached, downward viewing gives the action a sense of moral transgression.

The elimination of stage- auditorium dichotomy is not the important thing - that simply creates a bare laboratory situation, an appropriate area for investigation. The essential concern is finding the proper spectator-actor relationship for each type of performance and embodying the decision in physical arrangements.

It is particularly significant that once a spectator is placed in an illuminated zone, or in other words becomes visible, he too begins to playa part in the performance. We found that it was consummately theatrical for the actor to transform from type to type, character to character, silhouette to silhouette - while the audience watched - in a poor manner, using only his own body and craft.

Elimination of plastic elements which have a life of their own I. By his controlled use of gesture the actor transforms the floor into a sea, a table into a confessional, a piece of iron into an animate partner, etc. Elimination of music live or recorded not produced by the actors enables the performance itself to become music through the orchestration of voices and clashing objects.

The acceptance of poverty in theatre, stripped of all that is not essential to it, revealed to us not only the backbone of the medium, but also the deep riches which lie in the very nature of art-form.

Why are we concerned with art? To cross our frontiers, exceed our limitations, fill our emptiness — fulfil ourselves. This is not a condition but a process in which what is dark in us slowly becomes transparent. This defiance of taboo, this transgression, provides the shock which rips off the mask, enabling us to give ourselves nakedly to something which is impossible to define but which contains Eros and Caritas.

In my work as a producer, I have therefore been tempted to make use of archaic situations sanctified by tradition, situations within the realms of religion and tradition which are taboo. I felt a need to confront myself with these values. They fascinated me, filling me with a sense of interior restlessness, while at the same time I was obeying a temptation to blaspheme: I wanted to attack them, go beyond them, or rather confront them with my own experience which is itself determined by the collective experience of our time.

A rational review of the problem of myth was called for. Then I clearly saw that myth was both a primeval situation, and a complex model, with an independent existence in the psychology of social groups, inspiring group behavior and tendencies. The theatre, when it was still part of religion, was already theatre: it liberated the spiritual energy of the congregation or tribe by incorporating myth and profaning or rather transcending it.

The spectator thus had a renewed awareness of his personal truth in the truth of the myth, and through fright and a sense of the sacred he came to catharsis. As social groupings are less and less defined by religion, traditional mythic forms are in flux, disappearing and being reincarnated. The spectators are more and more individuated in their relation to the myth as corporate truth or group model, and belief is often a matter of Intellectual conviction.

This means that it is much more difficult to elicit the sort of shock needed to get at those psychic layers hind the life-mask. Group identification with myth - the equation of personal, individual truth with universal truth - is virtually impossible today.

What is possible? First, confrontation with myth rather than identification. If the situation is brutal, if we strip ourselves and touch an extraordinarily intimate layer, exposing it, the life-mask cracks and falls away. Only myth - incarnate in the fact of the actor, in his living organism - can function as a taboo.

The violation of the living organism, the exposure carried to outrageous excess, returns us to a concrete mythical situation, an experience of common human truth.

Again, the rational sources of our terminology cannot be cited precisely. I am often asked about Artaud when I speak of "cruelty," although his formulations were based on different remises and took a different tack. Artaud was an extraordinary visionary, but his writings have little methodological meaning because they are not the product of long-term practical investigations.

They are an astounding prophecy, not a program. When I speak of "roots" or "mythical soul," I am asked about Nietzsche; if I call it "group imagination," Durkheim comes up; if I call it "archetypes," Jung.

But my formulations are not derived from humanistic disciplines, though I may use them for analysis. But the hieroglyphic signs of the oriental theatre are inflexible, like an alphabet, whereas the signs we use are the skeletal forms of human action, a crystallization of a role, an articulation of the particular psycho-physiology of the actor.

I do not claim that everything we do is entirely new. We are bound, consciously or unconsciously, to be influenced by the traditions, science and art, even by the superstitions and presentiments peculiar to the civilisation which has moulded us, just as we breathe the air of the particular continent which has given us life.

All this influences our undertaking, though sometimes we may deny it. Even when we arrive at certain theoretic formulas and compare our ideas with those of our predecessors which I have already mentioned, we are forced to resort to certain retrospective corrections which themselves enable us to see more clearly the possibilities opened up before us.


Towards a Poor Theatre

Yozshum The Development of an Aesthetic. In this period of his work, Grotowski traveled intensively through India, Mexico, Haiti and elsewhere, seeking to identify elements of technique in the traditional practices of various cultures that could have a precise and discernible effect on participants. Jerzy Grotowski October 12, at 3: Customers who bought this item also bought. Theatre can todards on any space and entertain even an audience of one if it projects theatrically on life humanely. And that, surely, is the point?




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