Jerzy Grotowski was an advanced theatre director and theorist who significantly influenced theatre through his approaches to acting training and theatrical production. He was born in Rzeszow, in South-eastern Poland in 1933 and studied and trained in Moscow and Krakow with acting and directing, returning to his home country having been influenced himself by Meyerhold and Stanislavski in their trends of theatre. Grotowski died in 1999, aged 65, after fighting years of Leukaemia.
He was the author of ‘Towards Poor Theatre’ (1968), where he stated that theatre should not because it simply could not compete with the display of film. It should instead pay more attention to the main focal point of theatre, being the actors in front of an audience.
Grotowski pushed actors to focus on their physicality, to help lead the audience into discovering their own feelings and ideas in depth. He wanted the actors and the audience to relate with each other, breaking down the traditional ideas of staging. These ideas led him back to theatres origins in ritual, where the audience is also part of the performance. His impact on the development of new forms of theatre has been profound, both in the style of transformational theatre and the insanely strong system of acting.
Firstly, he insisted that the actors were prepared to sacrifice years of their life to be able to receive the adequate training needed. Grotowski suggested actors to begin their training in specialist drama schools at an early age. After finishing school, they should spend four years as apprentice actors before being allowed to become full members of a theatre company. Actors would then go through vigorous physical and vocal exercises each day. To then proceed to being prepared to give themselves completely to their work. This meant actors would work to eliminating selfishness, egotism, nervousness, vanity, and anything else which would prevent the training from working thoroughly. He wanted his actors to become so skilled physically and vocally that they could construct a language of sounds and movement. It was believed by Grotowski, once his actors reached this high level of skill, it would create a somewhat inner harmony and peace of mind which would give them health in mind and body.
Grotowski’s techniques taught actors to concentrate more efficiently, how to use their voices and bodies more skilfully, but most of all, how to develop greater self-awareness and sensitivity to other people around them.
He stated that an actor must begin by doing nothing, calling this creative passivity. By making silence happen, they could learn to concentrate intensely.
The actors had to learn extraordinary physical skills which allowed them to control every move they made, even the smallest, in every detail. Grotowski claimed that it is our bodies that express everything about us, and to which our bodies react to the world around us.
Grotowski taught his actors to use total respiration as they need to have majorly developed vocal and respiratory systems. Actors learning to focus on their voices coming from different parts of the body, when doing so, projecting their voice whilst aiming it at different parts of the room. Developing their voice to become more flexible gave them the range of low and high