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Grotowski's Theater

In the last half of the 20th century, a number of avant-garde theatrical movements came to the fore and like a star burned brightly. For the most part they burned briefly, too, and faded, having exerted limited influence on the theory or practice of theatre. There were, however, two notable and not unrelated exceptions: (1) the theatre of the absurd, which developed more or less parallel with the philosophy of existentialism as promulgated by such playwright-philosophers as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre and which has been characterized as having brought the avant-garde theatre of the 1920s and 1930s into the Anglo-American mainstream by the end of the 1950s (Esslin 289); and, (2) beginning in the 1960s, the work of Polish impresario, director, teacher, and theorist Jerzy Grotowski, whose experimental Laboratory Theatre and what he envisioned as a "poor theatre," also described as paratheatre, was markedly influential on Euro-American avant-garde theatre. Although Grotowski's career and discourse about it were touched by controversy and although his movement, like others of its type, had a limited life span, his reputation and innovative ideas about the creation and experience of theatre have garnered increasing respect since his death in 1999.

Born in 1933 in Rzeszów, Poland, Grotowski studied theatre in Krakow at Poland's National Theatrical Academy for some eight years (1951-1959). His training as an actor and director was on the whole conventional and fully in keeping with Poland's Cold War ethos, but as a student he was able to travel in Asia and Europe, exploring the theatrical conventions of the classics of many cultures and spending an entire year at the Moscow Art Theatre (officially the State Institute of Theatre Art), which had been founded by the acting teacher Stanislavsky (Kumiega 191). In 1959, with drama critic Ludwik Flaszen, Grotowski founded the Theatre of 13 Rows in Opole, a provincial town in...

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Grotowski's Theater. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 12:49, May 29, 2020, from https://www.lotsofessays.com/viewpaper/2000587.html