Monday, 8 February 2016

Jerzy Grotowski

Jerzy Grotowski 
Acting through focus and awarness.
His actors were so vocally and physically skilled that they could communicate clearly through sounds and movements. The actors would create an inner harmony and peace of mind that would keep them healthy in both mind and body. Grotowski actors believe that acting is a search for self knowledge and awareness. Their style of training taught them to break free of limitations and realise their full potential.
break free of limitations and realise their full potential- Breaking free from limitations, allows us to experiment and not hold back when working physically with our character and delving deep into the characters mind. This play contains a lot of scenes where you just have to go for it and if you think about what others think of you or what your doing to literally you're this is going to get in the way of that. 
Working in silence.
Grotowski stated that an actor must begin by doing nothing! He believed that if a group of actors could remain completely still for several minutes without disturbances, then they would be able to concentrate more intensely and use it as a creative passage.
concentrate more intensely- Paying close attention to others scenes and the directors approach to rehearsals will benefit you greatly as you will have knowledge on all scenes and the story as it passes from character to character. You must concentrate intensely on your character and what others give out and take away from your character. 

Physical Training
His actors were extremely physically skilled. They developed a technique of movement which allowed them to control every move they made, even the smallest in every detail. It is our bodies that express everything about us. Everything we think and feel is expressed through our bodies and everything we experience is felt through our bodies. He gave actors physical skills for fully expressing their imaginations and their personalities.
It is our bodies that express everything about us- Physicality is a main part of this play and it is our bodies that are going to show the seperation between you and your character. Attention to detail is paramount, from the gender ( hips held forward or backwards), where they place their hands ( do they fidget, do they interlink their hands), do the walk heel to toe or toe to heel and the way they stand etc.

Vocal training was essential. They focussed their voices as though they were coming from different parts of their bodies. They used full registers of their voices from very high to very low. He emphasised clarity and used techniques such as singing, chanting and reciting poetry. All actors were so vocally strong that they were able to recite atmospheric sounds of the world such as mechanics, animals, thunder and so on. To Grotowski the voice is an instrument.
To Grotowski the voice is an instrument- In The Devils my character has a very strong and powerful voice to support his high status. There are many vocal warm ups and techniques that we have picked up to ensure the voice in played like an instrument and perfectly accompanies the acting/ physicality. It is important to be vocally strong also when performing in a theatre so that the audience do not miss a word.

Human Contact
He believed in true contact between human beings. He believed that real harmony in human relationships only developed when people really learned to look at each other and listen to each other. He wanted actors to be more aware of the impact they had on other people.
look at each other and listen to each other- Meisner helps greatly with the subject of listening to each other, and this is another very important factor of working on the play. If we do not listen to the character and what is going on in the scene we lose the atmosphere and the believability of the scene, it is also important to radiate and receive (Chekhov) to make sure the actors understand what is going on and the scene flows from one to the other.

In his 'poor theatre' he always aimed for the simplist possible use of staging, lighting, costumes and special effects. This forced actors to use all their skills to transform empty spaces and simple objects into a whole range of imaginative worlds. Symbolism was essential in this form of theatre. In the theatre of poverty, the only important elements were the actors themselves and their relationship with the live audience. Often actors were in the audience's personal spaces, close enough to touch them. Grotowski arranged the space he was using so that the audience would be completely involved in the theatre as possible.
This forced actors to use all their skills to transform empty spaces and simple objects into a whole range of imaginative worlds-  We shouldn't need the lighting and the props, to carry us through and make the world of The Devils come alive, these things should just be an addition to something that could work without it. If we transform the stage into 17th Century Loudun, France, because we really believe we are in 17th Century Loudun France, and are characters are accurate to the time then not only will the audience be fixed but the lighting and props will just be a helping hand not a make or break.

Like Brecht, Grotowski emphasised the use of emotion memory to recall an experience and recreate the feeling that went with that memory. He demanded total honesty and total commitment from his actors in their use of emotion memory. They had to make use of all their memories, no matter how painful or private. This made their performances genuine. Through this process, actors would come closer to knowing the truth about themselves. It is an important path to self-knowledge. Grotowski demanded total commitment and belief in every activity, even the simplest exercise.

They had to make use of all their memories, no matter how painful or private- Connecting to past memories helps us connect with our characters and finding a mutual ground. Although it is hard to relate to a 40-50 year old Governor of a town in Loudun, France in the 17th Centuary, there are parts in the play when I am scared, or proud, or nervous and these are all things i can relate to or think back to being, this helps fill in the gap between acting and becoming.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The best summary and explanation of Grotowskis work I've ever found yet. Helps a lot! Thank you so much.

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  4. This is so helpful; Grotowski in a nutshell. Extremely helpful for high school theatre students. Thanks

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