This winter, the Open Program team of the legendary Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards is performing, hosting workshops, and developing new community grassroots programs in New York in a program called WORKCENTER/AMERICAS – NYC ADVENTURES 2014. In a rare visit from Italy, the internationally renowned group, comprised of artists from seven different countries, is presenting a series of diverse, original performances at beautiful locations around the New York City, including the West Park Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, St. Augustine’s Church in the Bronx, and the LAVA Studio in Brooklyn, including completely new versions of I Am America, Electric Party Songs, Not History’s Bones, ­­ A Poetry Concert, and the North American premiere of a new work entitled The Hidden Sayings. The group is also performing in private homes.

Additionally, in collaboration with West Park Presbyterian, the Open Program will lay the seeds of new kinds of community in NYC by creating a unique Open Choir – a non­-religious, weekly encounter open to all. This marks a new phase in the legacy of theatre visionary Jerzy Grotowski at the Workcenter, of which Mario Biagini, the leader of the Open Program, is Associate Director. This offers New Yorkers an unprecedented opportunity to participate with the Workcenter. The Open Program is also be looking to find individuals for long-term collaboration as part of a Seed Group of working artists.

Mario Biagini and colleagues from the Open Program are also offering an intensive three­-week workshop as part of the LUDUS Lab program at LEIMAY­CAVE in Brooklyn. This is a rare opportunity for performers of all kinds to experience the Workcenter’s unique forms of training, developed directly from Grotowski’s final phase of revolutionary work.

Considered one of the most important and influential theatre practitioners of the 20th century, Jerzy Grotowski revolutionized contemporary theatre in multiple ways. Grotowski changed the way Western theatre practitioners and performance theorists conceive of the audience­-actor relationship, theatre staging and the craft of acting. Perhaps best known for his notion of ‘poor theatre,’ Grotowski’s practice extends beyond the confines of conventional theatre assuming a long-term and systematic exploration of the possibilities of the human being in a performance context.

The Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski was founded in 1986 at the invitation of the Centro per la Sperimentazione e la Ricerca Teatrale of Pontedera, Italy (now: Fondazione Pontedera Teatro), and its directors Roberto Bacci and Carla Pollastrelli. At the Workcenter, Grotowski developed a line of “performance research” known as Art as Vehicle for 13 years until his death in 1999. Within this creative investigation, he worked very closely with Thomas Richards whom he called his “essential collaborator,” eventually changing the name of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski to include that of Richards. During those years of intense practical work, Grotowski transmitted to Richards the fruit of his lifetime research, what he called “the inner aspect of the work.” Grotowski entrusted Richards and Mario Biagini, a key member of the Workcenter team since its beginnings and presently its Associate Director, as the sole legatees of his Estate, including his entire body of written work, specifying this designation as a confirmation of his “family of work.” Since Grotowski’s  passing in 1999, Richards and Biagini have been continuing to develop the Workcenter’s performing arts research in new directions.

This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.

This post was written by The Theatre Times.

The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.