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Missing Pieces: A Little On Grotowski’s Towards A Poor Theatre

I’ve been reading Jerzy Grotowski’s Towards A Poor Theatre lately, a work which was reference by many of my teachers in college, but never assigned. As I’m picking through the pages the debt that they owe him, and indeed the debt that my own thinking owes him, grows increasingly obvious to me. I wonder if an earlier exposure to the book would have jumpstarted certain directions of creative, and dare I say “spiritual,” growth. I can’t be certain, that ship having sailed. If anything it might have been that I would have found Grotowski over-intellectual, instead of seeing that this is a translation from Polish into English of a man who wasn’t even working with words as his primary medium for communication.

Words are clunky, clumsy things. Indicators of real world objects and experiences that are often confused for the things themselves. The language that Grotowski developed—not the one he used to talk about it, but the physical language of his theatre—seems instead to be focused on the thing itself. I gather that’s what he means when he talks about what is interpreted as “signs” and “contact.”

Jesu Maria, it’s like reading Theatre Yoda.