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Grotowski’s Empty Room

Jerzy Grotowski (1933–99) was a Polish stage director, theatrical theorist, and founder and director of the small but influential 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.

224 pages | 16 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2009


Culture Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: Dramatic Works

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"The ’empty room’ of this illuminating book’s title refers not only to the potential of the training, rehearsal and performance space, but also to the metaphorical space left since Jerzy Grotowski’s death in 1999. . . .  Growtowski’s Empty Room provides, in broadly chronological order, a set of texts available here in English for the first time. . . . Organised into three parts, the book examines the foundation of the Teatr Laboratorium, and offers assessments of Growtowski’s work, and ulimately, his legacy. . . . This welcome and revealing volume shows us that Grotowski’s ’empty room’ remains full of very real challenges."

Adam J. Ledger | Contemporary Theatre Review

"There is much to discover in Grotowski’s Empty Room, either through research into the ’inner life’ proceeding from the line of Art as vehicle, or through a return to the empty room as theatre laboratory. For practitioners wishing to pursue these paths, or for scholars seeking to understand them, these essays are indispensable."

Kermit Dunkelberg | TDR: The Drama Review

Table of Contents


List of Figures

Editorial Preface

Notes on the Texts

Editorial Note



Letter to Jerzy Grotowski

Eugenio Barba


The Man in Her Dream

Marianne Ahrne



Grotowski and the Reduta Tradition

Zbigniew Osinski


Grotowski and Flaszen: Why a Theatre Laboratory?

Leszek Kolankiewicz


My Second Meeting with Grotowski

Zdenek Horínek



The Empty Room: Studying Jerzy Grotowski’s Towards a Poor Theatre

Franco Ruffini


Grotowski’s Double Vision

Fernando Taviani


Grotowski and the Twentieth-Century Theatre’s Secret

 Marco De Marinis


The Theatrologist, the Spectator and the ‘Performing Arts’: Grotowski’s and the Workcenter’s Challenge

Marco De Marinis


Grotwoski, or the Border Ferryman

Marc Fumaroli




From the Film Il Teatr Laboratorium di Jerzy Grotowski:

Jerzy Grotowski interviewed by Marianne Ahrne


Notes on Contributors

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