Timeline of Jerzy Grotowski’s life and creative work

1956

1 April 1956

Place: Moscow

For health reasons, Grotowski cuts short his studies at GITIS and thanks to Yuri Zavadsky’s help he travels to the Baýramaly oasis at the edge of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. The region’s dry climate helps treat kidney problems. The first part of the journey was by air from Moscow to Ashkhabad via Baku.

2 April 1956

Place: Turkmenistan

Rail journey from Ashkhabad to Baýramaly.

20 May 1956

Place: Baýramaly

Grotowski leaves the oasis and returns to Moscow by train, travelling through cities including Bukhara, Samarkand and Aralsk.

29 May 1956

Place: Moscow

Following his return, Grotowski passes his exams at GITIS.

15 June 1956

Grotowski leaves Moscow and returns to Poland.

July 1956

Place: Kraków

Grotowski begins collaborating with the Student Experimental Theatre [Studencki Teatr Eksperymentalny] (he is officially employed as a director from August) and is to prepare with the group the Polish premiere performance of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi. However, as a result of differences with the group over working methods and the aim of the piece, their collaboration ends in December 1956.

7 July 1956

Place: Kraków

Grotowski appeals to the PWST authorities, asking them to admit him straight into the second year of studies at the Department of Directing. His request is rejected.

9 September 1956

Place: Kraków

Dziennik Polski (no. 216, 9–10 September 1956, p. 6 and 9) publishes Grotowski’s article ‘Jakie dostrzegłem zmiany w życiu kulturalnym ZSRR’ (The changes I have observed in the cultural life of the USSR) in which he describes the post-thaw changes in Soviet culture.

1 October 1956

Place: Kraków

Grotowski begins studying directing at Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna (PWST – State Drama School) in Kraków while also working as a teaching assistant.

28 November 1956

Place: Kraków

Foundation of the Rewolucyjny Związek Młodzieży (Revolutionary Youth Union); Grotowski is one of its leaders.

6–7 December 1956

Place: Warsaw

During a national meeting, as a representative of revolutionary communist and socialist youth groups, Grotowski takes a hard stance against remaining elements of Stalinism and proposes far-reaching autonomy for the youth movement. This provides the backdrop for his disagreement with Krzysztof Pomian, who represents the opposite standpoint.

12 December 1956

Place: Warsaw

During a meeting of representatives of the Rewolucyjny Związek Młodzieży (Revolutionary Youth Union) and the Związek Młodzieży Robotniczej (Union of Working Class Youth), Grotowski again speaks out against ‘apparatchiks’ and manipulations that stem from the growing tendency towards centralising the youth movement.