Cleansing the Senses

On Thursday night I attended the opening of Peter Rose’s show Cleansing the Senses and was really moved. Peter is a co-founder of P.S. 122 and he’s an intense guy. He’s a long-time acolyte of Grotowski, very into theatre as spiritual practice, and he comes from a really deep place. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but I found myself surprisingly disarmed and moved.

I would actually say the show is a solo performance ritual in which Rose intertwines narrative elements – poetry (other people’s), popular song from days gone by, jewish liturgy and the very moving and powerful story of his struggle with bi-polar disorder – with movement and action: washing of clothes, lighting candles, climbing ladders, washing himself.

For those folks who have read Grotowski or were influenced and informed by stories of The Living Theater or the Open Theater, for people who have read Joseph Chaiken’s “The Presence of the Actor”
this is a great opportunity to see this style of theater in action.

Peter brings a level of attention and presence to the stage that one rarely sees. He’s really and truly there and he’s actually doing whatever he’s doing. I know this sounds sort of esoteric or unapproachable, but its not. I mean, when you’re in theater school we talk about presence and attention, we talk about being “in the moment”, we talk about the radical ideas of early experimental theater and then we move on into the real world.

But after having watched so many performances in which actors manufacture false intensity or just try and create the illusion of connection and doing, it is startling to watch someone actually doing something. I’m not explaining it well. But the piece is kind of like “be here now” – it is not an “entertainment” – Rose is asking the audience to engage in a profound dialogue, to step out of time and into sacred space, to go with him on a journey that you don’t know.

It is a rare kind of performance these days and I encourage you to check it out.

Use the code word GROTOWSKI either online or at the box office for $10 tickets.

For more info on the show visit

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