First, what is theatre? The answer may be tough to find. For some professor, theatre is a recitation prepared by actors that have learned a text by heart. This recitation goes with costumes, sound effects and lightning. However, Jerzy Grotowski did not see theatre from this point of view. For him, the actors and their training were the core of his theater, the poor theater. It is maybe the only theater where poverty is not a drawback, where the lack of money is not an excuse to justify the absence of costumes, lightning or stage. In fact, it is mainly a work on actors. This way of paying more attention on the actors may suggest craft. Moreover, without all those equipments, the audience as all their left to watch is the performance itself.
Grotowski started poor theater because he saw an opportunity to escape the control of power, which could prohibit the shows but not the rehearsals, or that it is what interested Grotowski. He went to Moscow to follow the teaching of Zavadski, who was the best player in Vakhangov before becoming Stanislavski’s assistant in his last period. In 1959, he joined the Laboratory Theater, a school and company financed by the polish government. His experiments focused on the actor, involving how they grow control over themselves (mentally, physically and vocally) so that during performances they might change themselves as demanded by their role. Moreover, at this time, technologies were starting to impress people. Slowly, theater had technical improvement in its theatrical devices. This improvement was constructing Rich Theater. And this was competing with the new technologies: cinemas and the television. In front of this, Grotowski argued that if theater “cannot be richer than the cinema, then let it be poor” (1968). That is how Poor Theater was born. Poor theater has its own features. Let’s take a look to all of them: First, the movements and gestures was one of the main features of Grotowski’s work. Indeed, Grotowski...
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