Polish Cultural Institute                                            Press contact: Agata Grenda

350 Fifth Avenue, #4621                                              tel.212-239-7300, ext.3009

New York, NY 10118                                                   email: a.grenda@PolishCulture-NYC.org



The Polish Cultural Institute in New York


The Performance Studies Department,

Tisch School of the Arts, NYU



– from La MaMa E.TC. to Lincoln Center Festival –

Celebrating the work and legacy of the revolutionary theatre director

Jerzy Grotowski

FEBRUARY 6 – JULY 13, 2009

Curator: Richard Schechner, NYU University Professor, TDR Editor


New York, March 10, 2009 – Following February’s inspiring and remarkably well attended events, which featured some of Grotowski’s most important collaborators from around the world, including Ludwik Flaszen from Poland an
d Maud Robart from Haiti, the March segment of the Year of Grotowski focuses on his influence in America, while April and May events will address some of the most compelling and misunderstood issues associated with this revolutionary director: Is Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre just another Old Boys’ Club? (a meeting with some of Grotowski’s key female collaborators, including the renowned Polish actress, Rena Mirecka, MESTC CUNY, April 16); Couldn’t Grotowski have been revolutionary 
without joining the Communist Party? (a meeting with theater historians atJohn Jay College, April 17); What did Grotowski really think about arch-rival Tadeusz Kantor? (a meeting with specialists on the two directors, NYU, May 4) and much, much more. Program details follow on the next pages.

Tracing Grotowski’s Path: Year of Grotowski in New York is the first in-depth and extensive presentation in the U.S. of the innovations and influence of world-renowned Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski in all the phases of his artistic career. This broad spectrum of work is being presented through a variety of panels, films, lectures, and workshops organized by the Polish Cultural Institute in New York and the Performance Studies Department at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

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 Polish theatre director, who was both master teacher, and, for many, a spiritual leader. With events devoted to Grotowski’s work taking place world-wide, Year of Grotowski:Tracing Grotowski’s Path is the most extensive program anywhere outside Wroclaw. 

The Polish Cultural Institute invited Prof. Richard Schechner of NYU, one of the foremost experts on Grotowski, to serve as curator of this multi-faceted celebration, which brings 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 and historians 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 around 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 subsequently 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.”

A Grotowski Chronology and full February-July Program are available at www.PolishCulture-NYC.org



(unless noted otherwise, all events are free and open to the public):

Women in the Grotowski Diaspora: Training, Transmission, Creativity

Thursday, April 16, 2009, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

Martin E. Segal Theatre at the CUNY Graduate Center

365 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10016

This evening of conversation and work demonstration features three former Grotowski collaborators: Rena Mirecka (Poland/Italy), Stefania Gardecka (Poland), andAng Gey Pin (Singapore/Italy). Although the particularly strenuous physical training emblematic of Grotowski’s approach is not gender specific, it has historically been associated with a masculine conception of the performer because of the central position occupied by Grotowski’s male collaborators in most of his theatrical work and paratheatrical experiments. However, as evidenced by archival sources, personal testimonies, and transmission processes, but – interestingly – rarely by printed materials, several generations of women from different cultures and traditions actively participated in all phases of Grotowski’s research, and continue to play a pivotal role in today’s intercultural Grotowski diaspora. What in Grotowski’s approach has inspired women to dedicate their life to such research? Moderated byVirginie Magnat, Assistant Professor of Performance at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Canada.

Grotowski in Communist Poland

Friday, April 17, 2009, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, Room 630-T

899 Tenth Avenue New York, NY, 10019

Panelists: Professor Kazimierz Braun, director, former Grotowski colleague and author of Ten Days in Poland Under CommunismSeth Baumrin, director, theatre historian, Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice/CUNY, author of Ketmanship in Opole: Jerzy Grotowski and the Price of Artistic Freedom;Agnieszka Wojtowicz, theatre historian; Assistant Professor at the University of Opole, author of From Orpheus to the Hamlet Study: Theatre of the 13 Rows in Opole (1959-64) discuss Grotowski’s political activities in Communist Poland. They explore the complex and often contradictory political realities of cultural production in Poland at that time. The period in question spans the establishment of the Laboratory Theatre in 1959 through to the years of Solidarity in the 1970-80s and beyond to the fall of Communism in Poland in 1989. Just what was Grotowski’s (a Communist Party member for more than two decades) and the Laboratory Theatre’s relationship to the Party, to the emergent anti-communist activism of the 1970s-80s, and to the censors who passed on all phases of cultural production, including the theatre? How did the “political realities” affect Grotowski’s artistic work? Moderated by Daniel Gerould, Professor of Theatre and Comparative L
iterature, CUNY Graduate Center.

The Way – A Workshop with Rena Mirecka

April 18 – 22, 2009

Judson Memorial Church

55 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012

This workshop is not open to the public.

Rena Mirecka was one of the key figures in Jerzy Grotowski’s “theatre of productions” and paratheatrical experiments from 1959 to 1982. She was instrumental in the conception and development of the “plastic exercises” and created all of the leading female roles including those in Acropolis and Apocalypsis cum Fuguris. Since 1982, she has pursued her own personal research in physical and spiritual theatrical expression. Since 1993, she has directed her own Theater Center inSardinia, Italy. Her current work is called “The Way”.

1967: Grotowski in New York, The First Encounter

Wednesday, April 29, 2009, 7:00 – 9:00 PM

La MaMa E.T.C., The Club

74A East 4th Street, New York, NY 10003

A discussion with participants in Grotowski’s first American workshop which took place at NYU in the autumn of 1967. Ellen Stewart, founder and director of La MaMa E.T.C., who was instrumental in bringing Grotowski to America, will also be on the panel. Two participants in the NYU workshop – Thomas Crawley and Jerry Mayer (both deceased) – kept a careful journal of this workshop. The observations concerning Grotowski, his principal actor at the time, Ryszard Cieslak, and the work process are “naive” and thus a very interesting document of American actors’ first encounter with Grotowski and his training methods. Richard Schechner will read from the Crawley-Mayer journal.

Grotowski and Kantor

Monday, May 4, 2009, 7:00 – 10:00 PM

NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Room TBA

721 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

A conversation, moderated by CUNY Graduate Center Professor Daniel Gerould, between two internationally known scholars: Zbigniew Osinski, Professor of Polish Studies at Warsaw University and the founder and first director of The Centre for Studies of Jerzy Grotowski’s Work and for the Cultural and Theatrical Research (from 1990 to 2004); and Michal Kobialka, Professor of Theatre Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, whose most recent book on Kantor,Further on, Nothing: Tadeusz Kantor’s Theatre, will be published in 2009. They will assess the distinctive achievements of these two revolutionary theatre artists from Poland and will endeavor to dispel some of the myths surrounding their work in order to reveal clearly the legacy of each for the future of theatre.


Paratheatre, Theatre of Sources, and Objective Drama

Friday, July 10, 2009, 7:00 – 10:00 PM

NYU Tisch School of the Arts


Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre and Theatre of Sources Period: Film Documentation

Saturday, July 11, 2009, time TBA

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater

The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards: Film Documentation

Sunday, July 12, 2009, time TBA

Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater

The Thomas Richards and Mario Biagini: Grotowski’s Legacy and the Workcenter

Monday, July 13, 2009, 6:30 – 9:30 PM

Lincoln Center Festival

The Polish Cultural Institute, established in New York in 2000, is a diplomatic mission dedicated to nurturing and promoting cultural ties between the United Statesand Poland, both through American exposure to Poland’s cultural ach
ievements, and through exposure of Polish artists and scholars to American trends, institutions, and professional counterparts.

The Institute takes an active collaborative role in the organization, promotion, and actual production of a broad range of cultural events in theatre, music, film, literature, and the fine arts. It has collaborated with such cultural institutions as BAM (Krum by TR Warszawa in BAM’s 2007 Next Wave Festival, which received aVillage Voice Obie Award), Art at St. Ann’s (TR Warszawa’s recent production of Macbeth), La MaMa E.T.C., Lincoln Center, Museum of Modern Art, PEN World Voices Festival, Poetry Society of America, Yale University, and many more. PCI co-produced the off-Broadway run of Irena’s Vow, with Tovah Feldshuh, which will run on Broadway from March 2009.

The Performance Studies Department at the Tisch School of the Arts, NYU takes as its object of inquiry and instruction the whole range of performance from the aesthetic to the social, from popular entertainments to ritual, from law and medicine to business, from gender to the performances of everyday life. Students and faculty in the Performance Studies Department’s M.A. and Ph.D. programs explore the myriad ways that performances in many cultures and widely differing circumstances create meaning and identities while shaping social life and inhabiting the arts. In addition to its many courses, the Performance Studies Department is home to the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics and two journals: TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies and Women and Performance.