About These Pages of
Jerzy Grotowski
Source Material


Just who is Owen Daly and why is he putting this Grotowski stuff on the web?

In the Summer of 1967 I was an entering college freshman on a full tuition drama scholarship. I was attending and performing in the Adelphi University Summer Theater. I met Jeff Spolan, who played the devil in a production of "JB" that Summer. He was on the same drama scholarship, a Junior, and he took me under his wing.

The previous year Jeff had traveled to Nancy, France to participate in a theatre festival with the Adelphi Mime Troupe.  The director, Dr. Jacques Burdick, had started looking into the work of a little known Polish theater director, Jerzy Grotowski whose work was the talk of the festival.  Dr. Burdick had decided to transform the mime theater into a smaller ensemble company, 'Pillory Theatre', along the lines of Grotowski's Laboratory Theater. As the Fall semester came around Jeff strongly suggested I audition.  He said it would be a lot more interesting than the standard college productions.

Little did I know.

In fact, for quite a while it was a case of 'pearls before swine'. I truly did not recognize the depth of what I was partaking in.  I never saw the live productions of Grotowski's work as Dr. Burdick and Jeff had.  I only knew what we did, day by day, rehearsal by rehearsal, for three years. Pillory Theater created three major and several minor works, performing in the Northeast United States, and at Il Miedzynarodowy Festiwal Festiwali Teatrow Studenckich in Grotowski's Wroclaw, Poland.  

I did several plays after college, and some of television in NYC.  I have built a career in computers over the last 30 years.  Recently I have returned to acting as part of the growing arts scene in Raleigh, NC. Jeff, however, has stayed with it.  He was a working actor in New York for more than 25 years, and evolved into directing and producing and teaching theater.

When the Web was new I started building a web site to support Jeff's career.  I am not sure how much good it did him, but we had fun doing it.  I noticed that a page with a small quip about Grotowski was getting a lot of hits and Jeff was getting email about Grotowski.  We began putting more information about Grotowski on the site, Jeff's answers to emailed questions, pictures and articles from our personal archives, whatever might help people understand something about Grotowski and his work.

This current Grotowski Source Material grew from that seed.

Jeff's original web site is mostly gone now.  It was a bit on the light side, with a satirical bent formed by long experience on the inside of show business.  Jeff's responsibilities are greater now, and the responsibilities involved in teaching and producing theatre demand a more sober image.

As Jeff's attention turned to more weighty things, I took on the task of responding to email about Grotowski and our experiences in Pillory Theatre.  This process helped me put those experiences in perspective. I read a lot of material about and by Grotowski, much for the first time.  I correlated what I read with what I had experienced.

About the same time I started working on Jeff's website, I also started practicing Yoga again.  It started with remembering the exercises we had done in Pillory Theatre.  It evolved to regular Yoga classes and exposure to some excellent teachers.  There was a surprising synergy between these two endeavors, and I found my memories of the work in Pillory Theatre informed my Yoga practice and the discoveries from my Yoga practice enlightened my understanding of Pillory and Grotowski's work and life.

But all that is my personal journey.  These pages exist to hopefully help you on yours.

Most of the hits and email come from theatre students, and I am happy that this information might be helpful to them.  Perhaps I am helping to involve new actors or directors in Grotowski's work.

This project has also put me into contact with people like William Shephard, who worked with Grotowski and the Lab theatre in Wroclaw and who, like Jeff, continues to be active in theatre.  There was also Robert Ellermann, a theatrical director and teacher, who pointed out the direct connection between Stanislavsky and Grotowski.  And Stephen Waugh, who worked with Grotowski in a workshop at NYU in 1967 and now himself teaches a Laboratory Theater course at NYU and has written an excellent book on the subject.  For these and other contacts with people involved in Grotowski and his work, I am grateful.

Lately new theatrical companies with strong roots in Grotowski's work have been appearing such as Antero Alli's ParaTheatrical ReSearch in Berkeley and Theatre Group Dzieci in NYC. Also the Workcenter that Grotowski founded with his protégé Thomas Richards has begun to hold public seminars and performances of their work again under the banner of Tracing Roads Across. I am heartened to see this blossoming of Grotowski's work.

I welcome comments, corrections and additional material.

Oh, yes, and I am once again accepting acting roles.

-Owen Daly 03/11/2012

Additional Information on Grotowski

 

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