Social Performing Groups and the Building of Community: Odin Teatret, Gardzienice, and Song of the Goat Theatre

Porubcansky, Anna. 2011. Social Performing Groups and the Building of Community: Odin Teatret, Gardzienice, and Song of the Goat Theatre. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This is a dedicated study of three performing groups with a particular social understanding of performance. Odin Teatret, Gardzienice, and Song of the Goat Theatre have developed unique theatre practices that investigate art as an integrated component of everyday life. The actors’ daily lives incorporate both artistic activities such as training, research, devising, and performance, and social projects such as cultural barters, expeditions, and pedagogical programmes in a conscious attempt to engage with the wider social world. The Odin, Gardzienice, and Song of the Goat’s work therefore extends beyond theatre and into the lives, traditions, and cultural practices of diverse communities around the world.

This approach to performance continues a legacy of art that has emerged specifically from Poland as a result of nationalistic and Romantic trends during the nineteenth century. In the eighteenth century, Poland’s borders were erased by the Austrian, Prussian, and Russian Empires. Dividing the country for well over a century, these partitions introduced cultural, linguistic, religious, and political suppression, creating an atmosphere of defiant cultural preservation as the Polish population struggled to assert itself against their oppressors. Artist such as Romantic poets Adam Mickiewicz and Juliusz Słowacki, neo-Romantic dramatist, poet, and painter Stanisław Wyspiański, and, in the twentieth century, directors such as Juliusz Osterwa and Jerzy Grotowski, contributed to a legacy of art that sought to examine and strengthen cultural identity, belonging, and community.

Drawing on the theories of Norbert Elias, Pierre Bourdieu, Mikhail Bakhtin, Emile Durkheim, and Ferdinand Tönnies, this study proposes that the Odin, Gardzienice, and Song of the Goat can be considered not only as performing groups but as social groups. Bound together through artistic principles that both define them as unique groups and shape the way in which they interact with the world, these social performing groups represent three unique performance practices devoted to exploring the social connections that connect people in mutual respect and understanding.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


theatre, laboratory theatre, devised theatre, polish theatre, grotowski, reduta, gardzienice, song of the goat theatre, odin teatret, community theory, social groups, polish romanticism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


19 July 2011

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Jul 2012 13:15

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:45


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