poor theatre



  • A term devised by the Polish director Jerzy Grotowskito describe a type of essential drama that can be arrived at by eliminatingtraditional 'theatrical' extras. As he explained in his book Towardsa Poor Theatre (1968):
    By gradually eliminating whatever proved superfluous, wefound that theater can exist without make-up, without autonomic costumeand scenography, without a separate performance area (stage), withoutlighting and sound effects, etc.
    By contrast, Grotowski described the contemporary commercialtheater as the "Rich theater - rich in flaws". Herejected the dictatorial powers of the modern director, believingthat the only element essential to effective drama is the direct actor - spectatorrelationship. By encouraging audience members to participate in thedrama, he attempted to create a revolutionary Theatre of Involvement.

    Many of these concepts were put into practice by Grotowskithrough his involvement with the Polish Theatre Laboratory in Warsaw,which he directed from 1964 to 1976. He was a major influence on Britain'sPeter Brook (who wrote a preface to Towards a Poor Theatre)and on such US experimental groups as the Living Theatre.