The Year of Grotowski



The Polish Cultural Institute in New York and 

The Performance Studies Department, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU 




FEBRUARY 6 – JULY 13, 2009 

From La MaMa E.T.C. to the Lincoln Center Festival 

Curator: Richard Schechner, NYU University Professor, TDR Editor Associate Curator: Dominika Bennacer 

Project Coordinator: Agata Grenda

Tracing Grotowski’s Path: Year of Grotowski in New York is the first in-depth presentation in the U.S. of the innovations and influence of revolutionary theatre director Jerzy Grotowski in all the phases of his artistic career. This broad spectrum of work is being presented through a variety of lectures, panels, films, and workshops. 

UNESCO has designated 2009 as “The Year of Grotowski” – 50 years after the founding of the Polish Laboratory Theatre and 10 after the death of the world-renowned theatre director, master teacher, and, for many, a spiritual leader. 

The program will involve several prestigious institutions throughout New York City: NYU Tisch School of the Arts; NYU Performance Studies Studio; Martin E. Segal Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center; John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY; Judson Memorial Church; La MaMa E.T.C.; Film Society of Lincoln Center; and Lincoln Center Festival. And it will bring together some of the most important contemporary performance practitioners. These include early Grotowski collaborators, former Polish Laboratory Theatre actors, as well as theatre and performance scholars from around the world. By attending to aspects of Grotowski’s work usually overlooked or misrepresented, Tracing Grotowski’s Path will contribute to popular and scholarly discourses on one of the greatest artists and innovators of the 20th century. 

Considered one of the most important and influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century, JERZY GROTOWSKI revolutionized contemporary theatre. Beginning in 1959 with his early experiments in the Polish town of Opole and later with the Polish Laboratory Theatre in Wroclaw, Grotowski changed the way Western theatre practitioners and performance theorists conceive of the audience/actor relationship, theatre staging, and the craft of acting. This phase of his theatrical work, also called “poor theatre,” was the basis for one of the most influential theatre books of the 20th century:Towards a Poor Theatre (1968). After abandoning the “theatre of productions,” Grotowski continued to push the boundaries of conventional theatre, first in his paratheatrical work, and later in his performance research, which took him to India, Mexico, Haiti, and elsewhere, in search of the traditional performance practices of various cultures (Theatre of Sources, 1976-82). This work led Grotowski to his identification of particular abiding elements of ritual traditions (Objective Drama, 1983-86). In the final phase of his work Grotowski explored the far reaches of the performance continuum, which he traced from “Art as presentation” toward what has been called “Art as Vehicle.”

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