Transcending the Individual Sphere: the work of Jerzy Grotowski

Lee, Fu-Ping. 2007. Transcending the Individual Sphere: the work of Jerzy Grotowski. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Jerzy Grotowski's lifelong work can be divided into three stages. The first (1957-63) can be summarized as the theatre of collective introspection, which was to bring together people in Polish society by means of adapting ritual spectacle, Durkheim's view of the renewal of social solidarity and Jung's notion of collective unconscious. The second stage (1964-77) starts with the shift of Grotowski's focus from shaping collectivity in performance to achieving individual initiation - the liberation from social conditioning - during the theatre process, especially during actor training. In 1970 Grotowski stopped producing performances and innovated a series of events subsequently known as paratheatrical activities through which he hoped to achieve the liberation of participants more effectively without the burden of making productions. During the third stage of his work (1978-99), Grotowski separated the essential elements of certain traditional practices such as ritual songs and dances so as to establish gatherings in which a sense of collectivity could be experienced among the participants from different social and cultural backgrounds. He ultimately concentrated on work around selected traditional songs preserving the corporeal impulses of the singer m their vibratory quality. The work around these songs, which made the precise sequence of songs, into a piece with a complete structure that could be taken as the potential central component of the proposed gathering Grotowski had been after. Grotowski's work throughout can be summarized as the restless effort to revive ritual in modern society. He pursued the performance shaping Polish social solidarity, the process towards individual initiation as defined above, and the gathering of people together regardless of their social and cultural differences. Yet, what was achieved in his work is the transcendence of the self beyond its ontological, physical, psychological, social and cultural limitations.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Jerzy Grotowski, theatre, performance, Poland

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


September 2007

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

29 May 2020 14:05

Last Modified:

12 Sep 2022 11:20


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