Rena Mirecka was a leading actor at the Teatr Laboratorium, and was one of the founding members of the company who remained until its self-dissolution in 1984. She was the principal work leader of the plastiques exercises, which she co-developed with Jerzy Grotowski and which formed a core part of the Laboratorium training. She performed the main female roles in all the performances created during the Theatre of Productions phase, including in Akropolis, as Fenix in The Constant Prince, and as Mary Magdalene in Apocalypsis cum Figuris. For many years, she has been conducting her own paratheatrical research project The Way.
This interview was originally published as ‘Chodzi o coś o wiele ważniejszego’, Didaskalia, 43-44 (2001), 55-59. It was reprinted in Podróż. Rena Mirecka – aktorka Teatru Laboratorium (Journey: Rena Mirecka, Laboratory Theatre Actress), ed. by Zbigniew Jędrychowski, Zbigniew Osiński, and Grzegorz Ziółkowski (Wrocław: Grotowski Centre, 2005), pp. 77–85, and in: Tadeusz Kornaś, Aniołom i światu widowisko. Szkice i rozmowy o teatrze (A Spectacle Upon the World, and to Angels: Essays and Conversations on Theatre) (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Homini, 2009), pp. 115-25.
Tadeusz Kornaś: You worked at the Teatr Laboratorium from the very beginning until its dissolution. Did you suspect from the start where this path would lead?
Rena Mirecka: It was a life-test for me. It was an attempt to encounter and travel within myself. This journey had specific stages. For twenty-five years, I worked in a team with my very, very close Colleagues. We called Grotowski ‘Boss’ and what we meant by that was somebody who took us over the bridge that led towards the unknown. At the beginning of the theatrical period, I had no idea what I would be doing for so many years. The rhythm of work was incredibly intense. In those days, like many other women, I expected that something would happen with my private life. And it probably would have happened if I hadn’t met Grotowski. When I started to see something important in this flashing, open space on the path of the Great Trees, I began to feel and realise that I was not destined to be able to combine my private life with my creative one. My love for what we were doing was profound. And I suppose, there was the love of myself, which is absolutely essential in life. At a certain stage of your life such love has nothing to do with egotism.
Rena Mirecka in Apocalypsis cum Figuris in Milan in 1979. Photograph: Maurizio Buscarino, courtesy of the Grotowski Institute.
Kornaś: In the 1970s, Grotowski decided that there would be no more performances at the Laboratorium. But all of you were actors. Was this turning point a blow for you? Did you understand the decision back then?
Mirecka: Well, the ’70s… The wonderful chapters about the Teatr Laboratorium were written throughout twenty-five years. Those years also include the paratheatrical period.
At that point, Grotowski asked everyone, myself included, whether I would like – and feel able to – inscribe myself into this new way, and whether I would go with him to Brzezinka and so on. The question was formulated in such a way that I answered ‘No’. At the beginning of the paratheatrical period, I helped other Colleagues who had gone to Brzezinka, but my participation in what was being created only began later.
Kornaś: This question was not without reason. Is what you are doing now a continuation of that paratheatrical period? The International Centre of Work Prema Sayi that you run doesn’t create performances.
Mirecka: Now I feel like a bird. The cage has been opened. I shouldn’t take the credit for everything that I am doing. I want to emphasise this. I found some strength within myself thanks to this wonderful work with Grotowski and all the efforts and incredible hardship. He was mercilessly demanding. And that was right. Thanks to this, we climbed from one rung to another. The creation of each performance used to start from a different level; you had to forget completely what had been done before. It wasn’t simple, but it was genius, as we got to know ourselves better and deeper, step by step. We were getting to know our flaws but also our strengths. Only those who had creative potential stayed with Grotowski to the end. I suffered sometimes because the men were inspired in a different way, due to the fact that Grotowski was a man.
What I’m doing at the moment is no different from what a sculptor does with various different materials: drilling, discarding, and shaping. I continually go back to the source that is teeming with life in me, even though our Theatre, as such, has ended. Early on, perhaps subconsciously, Grotowski used to take us to meetings with other actors; we used to lead workshops in various parts of the world and in different cultures. And this embryo of encounters remained between those people and me, even after the theatre ceased to exist. Well, has it ever ceased to exist? It only closed certain chapters. It still exists in the people who experienced this with us.
So, it was like a bird inside of me that was looking around, stepping on the ground but looking up high. When the Teatr Laboratorium ended and all my Colleagues went their own ways, I didn’t want to be alone. I said to Ewa Benesz, ‘Let’s do something together’. I also asked the same of Mariusz Socha. We met in Brzezinka, where Grotowski had started paratheatre.
Kornaś: Did you have any precise plans even then?
Mirecka: It was 1982. We started getting ready to leave. Firstly, I went with Ewa to Germany and then with Mariusz to Belgium. But that isn’t important. The important thing is that we started in this forest in Brzezinka, and that we lit a big fire in the hearth there every day. In this room, we prepared ourselves for what lay ahead. We had to create structures for our activities. And then, later on, our wonderful encounters started with the participants in the workshops, with people similar to us. In Brzezinka there was a white tablecloth on the ground, there was the Book [The Bible], water, and fire. And we got going there. We started to be close to water. Each in their own way. The fire was extremely hot. The gate, these great doors into the mill were open and suddenly it began to pour down with rain. If I remember well, there are two big pillars in this room. We squatted by them and started to sing: ‘A my tu dla i ku, aż pozwolisz nam w łodzi siąść bez trwóg. Światło opromieni nasza nową podróż’ (Here we are for and towards, until you allow us to sit in the boat without any fear. The light will illuminate our new journey). We created this first song there together.
One day, about noon, Ewa was sitting on a bench in front of the wooden house that had been built by Czesiu [Czesław] Szarek, which had been a kitchen during the paratheatrical phase. Mariusz was carrying some wood. I went outside the mill and stood in this great tall grass. And then… A butterfly alighted nowhere other than right here, between my eyebrows. For me it was… I didn’t know what was happening. My voice changed. Energy was speaking through me. And while this Blue Butterfly was there, I started to talk about this triptych, about the three phases of our work together. And then, suddenly, the butterfly flew away.
And I said to Ewa and Mariusz: ‘Look, what a wonderful story for a film’. And you know, when the Teatr Laboratorium no longer existed, Grotowski used to ask me, just like you asked me today: ‘Do you miss the theatre?’ I used to say no, but I was dreaming about at least one piece of work in film. And the years passed. So, I said to Ewa and Mariusz, we have wonderful material for a film. After years of searching, I realised that what I had thought was for a film had started shaping itself in the creative efforts of Ewa, Mariusz, and myself, in what later became paratheatre projects. Our first project was called Be here, now – TOWARDS. The second one was THE WAY to the CENTRE. And the third one – Now is the flight. And now it is THE WAY.
Rena Mirecka with the participants of a workshop at Brzezinka in the early 1980s. Photograph: Maciej Stawiński.
The second part of my triptych vision was a journey I took with a man on a raft down a wonderful bright river. I was sitting on one side of the raft and he was on the other. There are no words to describe the tranquillity in the grass, in the rustling of the leaves, and the water, which used our raft as a musical instrument. In this tranquillity, I heard a voice saying to me: ‘In every person, you will see Him’. I perceive visions audibly. And then, I also read, from right to left, an inscription: ‘Area Rag’. I understood that it was India, as classical Indian songs are called Ragas. The third part of the triptych was called The Desert.
Kornaś: Did these visions from Brzezinka have any concrete effect on your work with people?
Mirecka: We built the first wonderful ship, not just a raft, on the meadow near Casa Cenci, which is a laboratory near Rome that belongs to Franco Lorenzoni. Earlier, Grotowski had been working in this farmhouse on the Theatre of Sources project. We went there in 1984. There were many participants. We spread out on a meadow an endless roll of cotton sheet, on which we were all painting. And this cotton became the deck of our ship, which was called Gara Rea and came from my vision of Area Rag, India. So the raft became a ship. We really experienced that journey by ship, day and night, all the time. Our activities would stop in a natural way when we collapsed with exhaustion, when we had to eat or lie down on the ground under the sky in order to have some rest.
Among the others, there was a Jaron Goldstein who was building this ship with us. At that time, he had a theatre in Stuttgart. He came from Israel. After a few days of work, he asked me: ‘Rena, would you like to run my dream project?’. ‘What is your dream?’, I asked. ‘I would like to give, from Germany where I have lived for so many years, something wonderful to the families of those who lost their lives in the concentration camps’. ‘OK, we’ll do this together; start getting it ready’, I replied. Soon afterwards, he sent me photos from the Negev desert in Israel. A small town was built there, with many houses for artists. Many of them were empty. Goldstein said that we would live in one of those houses during the work and that occasionally we would go out into the desert. I said no and told him that all our activities, from start to finish, should be conducted out in the desert. And so we lived there for seventeen days. All our ventures were inspired by our desire for knowledge. Why is there fog? Why does the sun rise so early now…? We had to get close to water, air, fire, and the earth in order to understand this. Every day we travelled through the desert, one after the other… At dawn we could see from a distance some fawns and deer standing at the foot of the sandy mountain, looking towards the gold and red sky. The beloved Eastern Sun was rising on the horizon.
Kornaś: People from various parts of the world come to your Prema Sayi centre. What does the work there look like?
Mirecka: You’ve jumped to 1993. Ewa was back in Poland then. I told her: ‘Ewa, come and work here, we have a house.’ At the beginning Ewa came to this house, and day by day there were also Italians: Pier Pietro Brunelli, Franco Zanotti, and Vincenzo Atzeni; Alfred Buccholz from Germany, the Spaniard Maribel Gonzalez Muñoz, as well as Matteo Forti, Fiorida de Marchi, Nicola Dentamaro, Antonio Gazzotti, Loris Tirelli, Paola Torricelli, Julian Knab – all wonderful people. They started working with us in order to create a studio in this house, which we’d rented from shepherds. There were many rooms, but not one big one. ‘Our’ house [Prema Sayi] in Sardinia is on a hill. Its name comes from a flower. One day somebody brought a white lily into the work for me, but it wasn’t the kind of lily that I remembered from my childhood. The Italians said that it was a casa blanca. So I said to Ewa, ‘the house will be called Casa Blanca’.
Those friends, who built the studio with Ewa and me, had started out as our students. With us they practised the rites of fire, of water, the rites of the ways to the Sun – our quests. They became closely connected to us. They paid to accompany us everywhere we went. We couldn’t do much for them as we’ve always struggled financially.
We work with music a lot. Music is one of the most profound arts, which is able to penetrate the human soul. We create this music live. Ewa learnt to play while wandering with a zither and a drum around Polish fields. I taught myself to play various instruments too. The three of us created the scores for our activities, and then we did them with the people I have mentioned. These scores were written through ongoing notes played by Ewa, Mariusz and, me, and also by those who joined us. We also have photo and video documentation. Most of those who turn up come here from their often-simple duties; they are at various stages of their lives. Some of them begin their own personal search later on. For instance, Franco Zanotti currently leads the Campi Scuola (School Camps) at the Laboratorio Casa Cenci. He works with a group of people and runs seminars. In any case, the majority of people who have worked with us develop this thread to recognise the labyrinth of their own self. And now they are creating things in various places around the world, but from time to time they come and get involved in what Ewa is doing and what happens with me in the work. We have become connected and no one is able to disconnect us. Pietro Brunelli has been taking part in the paratheatre activity for years now and he writes about our searches.
Kornaś: Can anyone come and participate in the workshops that you run at Prema Sayi in Sardinia?
Mirecka: At the start of each year, we write programmes of where and when the meetings will take place. Everyone who applies can try to take part in them.
When there were three and then two of us, we ran seven-day programmes. Now, the cycles last about five or three days. It depends upon where the workshop is taking place and what the conditions are. At the Grotowski Centre I tend to work for five days. My level of fitness is also changing. Finding travel difficult for many years was one of the reasons why Casa Blanca – our centre – was set up. [This is] at the moment. I believe that one day I’ll meet a good organiser who will understand well their role both in Poland and in the world, and who will work as a manager for the benefit of themselves and others. I’m also looking for a sponsor for my School of Artistic Education.
Kornaś: Do you create certain structures during the workshops?
Mirecka: There are usually fifteen people who take part in each workshop, although we’ve also worked with thirty-two participants in the past. But now, when I work on my own, there are usually fifteen or a maximum of twenty-one people. The structure of the meeting is always prepared in advance and carried out each time, but depending on who is participating and how they react, there is scope for improvisation within the given structure. For example, everyone takes part in the dance, which starts in a certain manner. If, within this dance, there is the possibility for someone to react in their own individual way, then I respond to that with my own self. But there are also dances that are rooted in tradition and these cannot be changed. The person who comes into them should try to follow the same step and the same rhythm. Only in this way can our meeting in Unity take place.
Kornaś: Do actors take part in your workshops?
Mirecka: When Grotowski left, I felt that I would like to pass on to actors everything that came from us and that was alive in me, but I didn’t know how to invite them. They are lazy and they are not keen to learn anything new. They agree to work with very uncreative directors. This is very sad. There are not many actors who resist being pigeonholed by a single form. You must not repeat the same things mechanically. The need to approach catharsis and cleanse yourself as an actor is crucial in order to be human above all else. This is essential in order to become an artist-actor, not a workhorse. It is very important for me to be able to help actors, especially the young ones. This is why I’m going to open a school under my patronage, which will exist in Poland and abroad.
Yes, I invite actors mainly. In some countries they come, but there aren’t many of them. The majority of people who come to the workshops are from various different professions. Work with actors is drudgery, because they are ‘masked’, defensive, and untruthful. It is a very difficult task to bring out a spark of human, organic presence. They are taught to act and I was taught by Grotowski not to act. Well, I’d been taught how to act at drama school, and later I had to get rid of this.
Kornaś: Earlier you mentioned the rites of fire and water. Are these structures repeatable?
Mirecka: These structures have lasted fifteen years. They appeared because a creature – they say ancestrale in Italian, which means an ancestor – initiated me. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation but it contains the spirit of an ancestor. The life of our rituals lasted for many years, although they changed slightly and new steps grew up alongside those steps that had already been researched and experienced with people. They endured, because the metaphysical wanted it to go this Way. We were well protected during this work with people. For instance, we’d start at dawn in order to be able to go and stop on a hill and look towards this special direction – towards the sunrise. When people joined us for the first time, it wasn’t very easy. The difference between our experience and those who were new was evident. We tried to tell them: ‘Don’t be afraid, for in the true reality we’re all the Unity.’ We also tried to do this through our songs, movements, and through various other proposals. We inspired the participants.
Usually, we started our workshops at dawn, at five in the morning. We used to say to the participants: ‘We will lead this work, but you should know that you’re supposed to start preparing your own proposal right from our very first meeting. You will create the figures of the four seasons. You can choose: winter, summer, autumn, or spring. This needs to be visible in the form you choose and you will work with it, you will speak, dance, or sing, but it needs to come out from the source of yourself’. The participants immediately received tasks and we worked in seven-day cycles without a break. It is not so unusual to participate – but it is extraordinary to create from within yourself, from your personal experience, your pain, suffering, and happiness. You need to expose and make a sacrifice of yourself. Only then is the spectator or witness of our action able to become a drop of the same water.
Kornaś: You’ve also mentioned music that penetrates the human soul and that you continually sing. Where do the musical strands come from? Are they rooted in tradition? Are they improvised?
Mirecka: Our first singing was – and continues to be – based on mantras that we learned in India. Sometimes we sing them with drums. What penetrates through these structures is this power song. Power, or strength. When a person creates their own song, there is magic in it. We worked without watches when singing during our rehearsals. Time and space ceased to exist in our work. Being here and now was only marked by the sun, which rose and then went to bed at sunset. What I felt and realised then was ‘worship’. I’ve worked a lot. I remember one day in 1993 when Mariusz had left and our closest students had gone away. Only Ewa and I had stayed. I haven’t always been so brave in going towards everything that is alive in Great Nature. We were surrounded by the power of the Sardinian mountains and the cleanest air. The sun was setting and I felt that I was losing my energy and that I had to defend myself. I entered the studio and I opened the huge green doors with three great shutters. My plea was the ultimate – it’s difficult to describe it, but I addressed Vigneswara, from Indian culture. I simply begged him for help with the singing and dancing. It was May 1993.
In August, Ewa and I were again in Casa Cenci and we were running the project THE WAY to the CENTRE. Suddenly we received a phone call that somebody wanted to see us. We had to complete two other projects first, so I asked Ewa to arrange a meeting for 28 August. That day, I saw an unusual woman and a line of people behind her. Ewa and I were barefoot, dressed in white. We went to greet them and sat under the Ornella (blooming ash) tree in the meadow next to Casa Cenci. We sat at a long table and our conversation went on and on. I became tired and said to this woman, who was slightly older than me: ‘Maybe you know something about this, but I have the impression that this tree is ill’. I got up in order to take a break from these people. And next to this tree, the woman said to me: ‘I know everything about you’. ‘What can you know about me?’ I thought. And she asked, ‘Do you want to work with me?’ I replied, ‘Yes, but where?’ ‘Here and now’. In a moment, we were both in the studio. And after a while, Ewa and the others joined us. I’ll put it succinctly: she was a shaman, the Turtle Rattle Woman, who had arrived. When, in May, at the Prema Sayi centre, I was calling and experiencing my ritual, she was in America, in Florida, and she had heard that somebody in Italy was calling…
It is nineteen years since the start of our work in Brzezinka. One plus nine makes ten, and this means that an unusual cycle of pilgrimage and self-discovery has come to a close. And now I’m here, in Wrocław. I run workshops and every time these wonderful people, here and from around the world, ask me many questions, which I cannot answer in a rational way.
Kornaś: Everything began with theatre at the Teatr Laboratorium, but what you’re talking about now is something beyond art. Can art lead to getting to know the world?
Mirecka: This is not beyond art. Paratheatre is the highest form of art, and stems from the beginning of the theatre, from Greek theatre. We’ve all learned about where the initial spirit of the theatre came from. This is where you need to look and understand that human talent is equipped with cosmic music, movement, and sound. And the form that this searching takes depends on the creators – whether it’s classical theatre, a theatre laboratory, or paratheatre.
Kornaś: Is calling God also an art?
Mirecka: I cannot answer this, because what is Unity simply Exists.
Kornaś: But you can often appeal to God without being united, and this kind of calling usually has a specific structure. You said earlier that you were calling and somebody on the other side of the ocean was able to hear you. That is why I’m asking about art and its borders.
Mirecka: Questions sometimes need to remain unanswered. Sometimes words are unnecessary. The blue marks on our planet exist only here and there and these marks are people who pray and who are visible from astral journeys. Supposedly, our planet is in darkness. I think it is essential for a human being to start calling, because we all undergo evolution. If more societies in various cultures, also in Polish culture, realise what life and the secret of our life is and where its meaning lies, perhaps your grandchildren will be able to experience a time when only one language will exist, and this will be the language of your heart. Borders will disappear and Universal Love will rule. If we honestly, and with the whole self, ask for something to happen, it will happen. We need to be careful and not to lie though, because evil can emerge. As you’ve said, if you ask or call for something, you need to be boundlessly human and truthful, as in a child’s magic. And then it will happen.
Kornaś: You said earlier that your work with Mariusz Socha and Ewa Benesz was centred on worshipping. Maybe these questions are already too personal…
Mirecka: Mr Tadeusz, at this point, this needs to stop being personal. For eighteen years, I’ve been trying to find the language to camouflage the Truth that I feel and that guides me. I think this is the time to speak up about what I feel, think, and how I understand it.
Kornaś: You said ‘worship’. I associate this word with two things: you can worship in various ways and you can worship various things. If the work in Prema Sayi is centred on worshipping…
Mirecka: Not only. There is apotheosis and profanation in art. Acting wholly in the so-called process of the ‘total actor’, you open up by the force of events to some kind of happiness and some great suffering. You try to get rid of this second thing or make this thing go away. But this costs you. You don’t get awareness for free. This isn’t a book or university where lectures are being repeated in a deadly way. This is a creative process here and now, which takes place in a different dimension of your consciousness, where everything that has been given to a person at birth and that comes from a former incarnation flows from the subconscious. A person cannot create anything more than what has been given to them. The highest meaning of being here on earth is contained in a message: keep discovering who you are and love yourself because you were incarnated with love. You received this love at the moment of conception. Happy are those children who have been conceived from the love between their mother and father. Now they ought to love in this life. You contain in yourself the same thing that connects a tree, a mountain, and a stilt. These are symbols that connect a human being with the earth and the sky. They connect us with Prana – the cosmic and vital energy, which we breathe. We can live for a few days if we do not eat or drink, but if our breathing is blocked, there is no cosmic energy, and the body already starts to die. What I want to say is that everything you need to search and get to know is in yourself and then we will be supported by what is similar to us in others and will be led by those who manifest themselves in Great Nature. There is no point searching in this catastrophic world of great illusion and ignorance. Power and wisdom come from one’s lived-through experience. Who are you? Who am I? This happens with the highest Truth and solitude. It is not this kind of human solitude that we all think about. You can never be lonely. At some point, a person who is searching knows that there is no point in continuing to search. Searching is an act that happens very much worldwide.
Kornaś: You said that each person can only reach what fate has programmed within them. Why do you work then? Is it to help others in spite of this?
Mirecka: First of all, to help myself and to be able to recognise my fate individually. You cannot help others if you are not able to deal with your own difficulties, troubles, your incapacity and often stupidity. Considering what has happened since 1959 and the fact that we were giving what we created with Grotowski and what I created later on my own, this continuous act of giving makes me very tired right now. This is a complicated moment accompanied by a deep passivity, quietude, and belief. In such a moment of trust and disarmament, you can reach almost anything. Then, your duty is to share it with others. Although I don’t really feel that it is my duty – this is The Purest Love.
Kornaś: Have you seen Grotowski’s Action [created at the Workcenter in Pontedera], and has Grotowski seen your work?
Mirecka: I saw Action when Grotowski presented it in Wrocław a few years ago [in 1997]. Grotowski found out about our work through many of our participants, who were in touch with him. He knew what we were doing and watched our documentation – he found it surprising that we were so different from the people he had known before.
Kornaś: Has the work you do in Sardinia similar aims to those of Grotowski’s work in Pontedera?
Mirecka: If your question refers to the point, the aim, the direction of THE WAY, the answer is yes. Only the form is completely different. You need to leave your own trace and pass a sign on to those who are present.
Rena Mirecka (left) and the participants of a workshop THE WAY, Wrocław, 2003. Photograph: Maciej Stawiński.
Kornaś: You said that in your work it’s currently the period of THE WAY.
Mirecka: THE WAY – the Art of Unity – is happening. I need to go back to a meeting with the shaman, the Turtle Rattle Woman. She passed on the world of ancient knowledge that takes us closer to the experience of the presence of Mother Nature’s great creative energy and the energy of the world directions. We are all connected in One. This woman made the Raft from my Blue Butterfly vision become the Sacred Canoe in the course of the creation.
I don’t look too far into the future. Be and happen. I am an open channel for passing energy. I serve and people join me for the Journey. For those few days of an encounter, a special Community is born. This is how my dream comes true. Not having any offspring, I bring into being this short time of brotherhood. People feel this. That’s why in struggling with the matter of the body, not only the physical body, you need to allow for movement, sounds, the rhythm, and the vital power of the living Ubiquitous Energy, which has been called out, to lead the Sacred Canoe. This is how I envisage THE WAY.
I am now breaking away from many years of haven in the Desert and embarking on the next expedition. I believe – I strongly believe and I know – that there is no other way but to understand the biggest secret of secrets. There is the One and Only Almightiness and every one of us is a part of this Cosmic Almightiness. Let it happen. It is not about me, but about something much more important.
Postscript by Rena Mirecka: I would like to dedicate this conversation to my Dear Sister, Władysława Radołowicz
Translated from Polish by Justyna Drobnik-Rogers
- ^ In November 1972, at the invitation of Kazimierz Braun, Mirecka and Zbigniew Cynkutis began working in the Teatr im. Juliusza Osterwy (Juliusz Osterwa Theatre) in Lublin on an event called Jałowa (Wasted) based on Federico García Lorca’s Yerma. The event, which premiered on 16 February 1973, was directed by Cynkutis with Mirecka among the cast of four actors. They continued their collaboration with the theatre in January and February 1974 on an event called Arka (The Ark). See Zbigniew Osiński, ‘Występy gościnne Teatru Laboratorium, 1959-1984. Kronika działalności 1978-1984’ (Touring performances of the Teatr Laboratorium, 1959-1984. A Chronicle of Activities 1978-1984), Pamiętnik Teatralny, 1-4 (2000), 641, 644. See also the interview with Teo Spychalski elsewhere in this issue, pp. 150-60 (pp. 153-5) <http://dx.doi.org/10.15229/ptpcol.2014.voices.18>. Eds.
- ^ After Polish philology studies in Lublin and theatre experiences in Gorzów Wielkopolski, Ewa Benesz worked as an apprentice in the Teatr Laboratorium from 1966 to 1968 and performed in Ewangelie (see the interview with Teo Spychalski in this issue, pp. 151-2). From 1968 to 1970, she collaborated with Warsaw’s Teatr Żydowski (Jewish Theatre), performing title roles in The Dybbuk and The Golem. She attended directing courses at the PWST (State Higher Theatre School) where she met Małgorzata Dziewulska, Ryszard Peryt, and Piotr Cieślak. Together, in September 1970, they founded the Puławskie Studio Teatralne (Puławy Theatre Studio) sponsored by the Zakłady Azotowe (chemical factory) in Puławy. The studio’s work – inspired by the Teatr Laboratorium’s approach – was banned by the Służba Bezpieczeństwa (the secret police) due to their contacts with the opposition. After passing an external acting examination in 1971, from 1972 Benesz started to recite Adam Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz, the classical Romantic Polish epic, in various Polish cities. In 1976, she began to wander around Poland to recite Romantic poetry in Polish villages. In 1980 to 1981, when she worked in the Teatr Laboratorium again, she wandered and recited Mickiewicz’s poetry in the Wielkopolska region. See Tadeusz Kornaś, ‘Śpiew aojda’ (A Bard’s Singing), Didaskalia, 29 (1999), 59-61. Eds.
- ^ In fact, there are three. Eds.
- ^ Czesław Szarek (1937-2011) worked for many years as a technical assistant in the Teatr Laboratorium. Eds.
- ^ These titles are given in English first then Polish in the original. Trans.
- ^ For further information, see <http://www.cencicasalab.it/cenci>. Eds.
- ^ Grotowski and his Theatre of Sources assistants worked in Casa Cenci from March to June 1982, during the course of Grotowski’s lectures in Rome at La Sapienza University. For details of the unauthorised manuscript of this lecture series see ‘Introduction: Voices from Within’ in this volume, pp. 8-15 (p. 11, n. 10) <http://dx.doi.org/10.15229/ptpcol.2014.voices.02>. Eds.
- ^ Pier Pietro Brunelli, a Bologna University psychology graduate, is a specialist in social communication. He has collaborated with Mirecka since 1987 and has written a book about his experiences: Saggio nel dramma per Rena Mirecka (An Essay on Drama according to Rena Mirecka) (Milan: Associazione Culturale Albedo, 1994). Eds.
- ^ Renamed the Grotowski Institute from the end of December 2006. Trans.
- ^ ‘Power song’ and ‘power’ are in English in the original. Trans.
- ^ Also known as Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. Trans.
- ^ The title is in English in the original. Trans.
- ^ In English in the original. Trans.
- ^ ‘Sacred Canoe’ is in English in the original. Trans.