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Grotowski’s Empty Room: A Challenge to the Theatre

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Grotowski’s Empty Room: A Challenge to the Theatre
by Paul Allain (editor)
Seagull Books, September 2009

Jerzy Grotowski (1933–99), considered one of the most important and influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century, was a Polish stage director, theatrical theorist, and founder and director of the famous Polish Laboratory Theatre. Most of Grotowski’s theater-making took place in this and similar small theaters and studio spaces, and as a result one of his central fascinations was the actor’s work within the context of an empty room. The essays in Grotowski's Empty Room analyze how Grotowski’s explorations in the theater continue to challenge dramatists and directors.


The contributors to this volume reflect with special insight on how theater scholars and practitioners can further Grotowski’s work and how his legacy will be developed in the theater. Among the contributors are Leszek Kolankiewicz and Zbigniew Osinski, his close collaborators; Marco de Marinis, Franco Ruffini, and Fernando Taviani, scholars who have followed Grotowski’s works from the 14 years he spent in Italy; and Swedish filmmaker and writer Marianne Ahrne and director Eugenio Barba, who reveal the strong impression Grotowski left on all those who met him and express the challenge of those who must now work in the empty rooms he has left behind.


Paul Allain is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent, Canterbury. He collaborated with the Centre for Theatre Practices “Gardzienice” from 1989 to 1993 and published the book Gardzienice: Polish Theatre in Transition (1997). He co-edited the Cambridge Companion to Chekhov (2000) and his book The Art of Stillness: The Theatre Practice of Tadashi Suzuki was published by Methuen (2002) and Palgrave Macmillan, USA (2003). Routledge published his Companion to Theatre and Performance, co-written with Jen Harvie, in early 2006.
Allain was a member of the documentation team for and a partner in the EU funded project 'Tracing Roads Across' with the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, 2003-2006, and he is currently researching the legacy of Grotowski’s work through the AHRC-funded British Grotowski Project, which will culminate in an international conference and a series of publications in 2009. He has recently received an “Outstanding Services to Polish Culture" Badge of Honor from the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage. He is also collaborating with the Moscow Art Theatre School on a two-year research project.

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