Timeline of Jerzy Grotowski’s life and creative work

1964

3 January 1964

Place: Opole

Grotowski, Flaszen and Wacław Iwaszkiewicz (the chief accountant of the Theatre of 13 Rows) hold talks with Stanisław Kaźmierczak, director of the Department of Culture of the Presidium of the Voivoideship National Council in Opole, regarding the low level of funding received for 1964 which threatens the normal functioning of the Theatre. According to the directors of the Theatre, without the usual subsidy of 287,200 zlotys the company would only be able to function for a short period and once contracts with its actors expired it would have to dissolve at the start of the new theatre season. Kaźmierczak assured them that the lower subsidy should not be taken as a sign of an intention to close down the Theatre, instead the funds necessary for its activities would be budgeted during the course of the financial year.

30 January 1964

Place: Warsaw

The head of the section for theatre matters at the Ministry of Culture and Arts Jerzy Sokołowski sends Grotowski a letter requesting that he prepare documents outlining the activities of the Theatre during the previous five years prior to a planned visit by a delegation from the section which would assess its work and would decide whether or not to finance its activities through Ministry funds.

17 March 1964

Place: Opole

Premiere of Studium o Hamlecie (Hamlet Study) based on the texts of William Shakespeare and Stanisław Wyspiański; script and direction by the Company led by Jerzy Grotowski.

30 March 1964

Place: Opole

The directors of the Theatre send the materials prepared in connection with the visit of the theatre section to the Ministry of Culture and Arts as well as to the city and voivodeship authorities in Opole.

7–8 April 1964

Place: Opole

Visit from a commission established by the section for theatre matters at the Ministry of Culture and Arts, whose assessment would decide the fate of the institution. On the first day, the members of the commission are given a demonstration of actors’ training exercises and shown a performance of Dr Faustus. On the second day, they watch Studium o Hamlecie. The participants of the proceedings are: the section director Jerzy Jasieński – the commission chairman, Jerzy Sokołowski, Prof. Zenobiusz Strzelecki, Jan Paweł Gawlik, Konstanty Puzyna, Józef Szczublewski, Stanisław Kaźmierczak from the Department of Culture of the Voivodeship National Council in Opole, a representative from the Propaganda Department of the Voivodeship Committee of the Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), Edward Pochroń from the House of Creative Associations in Opole, Jerzy Grotowski and Ludwik Flaszen as artistic directors of the Theatre of 13 Rows, and also individuals invited by the Theatre to serve as observers and consultants: Bohdan Korzeniewski, Zbigniew Raszewski, Andrzej Wirth, Tadeusz Byrski and Jerzy Timoszewicz. In a document summarising the visit, the commission rates highly the achievements of the Theatre (particularly in the field of its work with actors), it recognises its continued existence as desirable and valuable for Opole, opposing plans for it to move to another city, and the commission also issues a request to the Ministry of Culture and Arts that it provide a grant of 350,000 zlotys to support the Theatre’s activities.

11 April 1964

Place: Opole

Before departing for France, Grotowski issues Ryszard Cieślak and the authorities with a note in which he confirms that he is handing over to Cieślak authority for directing the work of the Theatre during his absence, thus making him fully responsible for its artistic activities and financial management.

18–26 April 1964

Place: Nancy

As a member of an international jury, Grotowski participates in the First World Festival of Student Theatres, whose first director was Jack Lang, who later became the French minister of culture. As part of the seminar accompanying the festival, ‘The Formation of the Theatre Actor’, Grotowski holds a lecture on the subject of his experience of working with actors, which he illustrates with a demonstration of exercises carried out by Rena Mirecka and Ryszard Cieślak.

28 April 1964

Place: Opole

Stanisław Kaźmierczak, head of the Department of Culture of the Voivodeship National Council in Opole sends a note to the Minister of Culture and Arts, Tadeusz Galiński, informing him that the Voivodeship budget is unable to support a grant for the Theatre of 13 Rows and thus, without a subsidy from the Ministry, it will be necessary to dissolve the Theatre on 31 August 1964.

30 April 1964

Place: Opole

Official premiere of Estrada Poetycka (Poetic Platform) piece Pieśni (Hymns) based on a script by Andrzej Bielski and also directed by him (the unofficial premiere took place on 28 April).

1 May 1964

Place: Wrocław

The monthly journal Odra includes an article by Józef Kelera titled ‘Hamlet i inni’ (Hamlet and others) in which he issues a call to the Wrocław municipal authorities to take the Theatre of 13 Rows under their wing and bring the theatre to the city. Kelera admitted many years later (see Kelera’s book Grotowski wielokrotnie, [Grotowski multiplied; Wrocław, 1999], p. 13) that his appeal was initially cleared with those members of Wrocław’s cultural circles who held favourable opinions of Grotowski.

Early May 1964

Place: Paris

Grotowski holds a press conference as part of the events accompanying the Theatre of Nations 1964 festival.

9 May 1964

Place: Warsaw

In a note issued on this day, Henryk Bieniewski, vice-director of theatre affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Arts, informs the Department of Culture at the Presidium of the Voivodeship National Council in Opole that Minister Tadeusz Galiński has agreed to subsidise the activities of the Theatre to the sum of 80,000 zlotys (rather than the 350,000 which had been applied for).

21 May 1964

Place: Opole

In a note to the Culture Department at the Presidium of the Voivodeship National Council, Grotowski informs them about the current activities of the company, including the start of rehearsals for The Constant Prince. On the same day, the board of Dom Związków Twóczych (the House of Creative Associations) in Opole signs a contract with him to serve as artistic director of the Laboratory Theatre of 13 Rows during the 1964/65 season.

1 June 1964

Place: Opole

Following an all-night meeting with the company, Grotowski decides – despite the lack of funding but nevertheless in accordance with the regulations (indeed, even forced to do so because of the regulations) – to sign contracts with the actors for the 1964/65 season. He informs the Department of Culture in writing on 10 June while also drawing their attention to the fact that should a grant not be awarded to enable the Theatre to continue its activities then this would result in the law being broken.

10 June 1964

Place: Opole

Premiere of the third version of Akropolis, which is revived on the recommendation of the theatre section delegation who considered it ‘a piece suitable for export’.

13 June 1964

Place: Opole

A note from the Department of Culture of the Presidium of the Voivodeship National Council in Opole stating that it has been unable to obtain a subsidy for the theatre’s activities, while stressing that the directors of the Laboratory Theatre of 13 Rows are solely responsible for any legal consequences having signed contracts with the actors.

14 June 1964

Place: Opole

A performance of Akropolis is cancelled due to the lack of audience members.

19 June 1964

Place: Opole

The daily newspaper Trybuna Opolska announces on its front page that five of the Laboratory Theatre’s actors – Rena Mirecka, Andrzej Bielski, Ryszard Cieślak, Antoni Jahołkowski and Zygmunt Molik – have joined the Polish United Workers Party and become members of the Primary Party Organisation at the House of Creative Associations in Opole. According to Grotowski’s later interpretation, this act was to have served as a means of protecting against the dissolution of the Theatre, working on the principle that the company could be dissolved but its Primary Party Organisation could not.

Summer 1964

Talks that would decide the fate of the Theatre take place with the chairman of the Municipal National Council in Wrocław Bolesław Iwaszkiewicz, thanks to whose initiative and assistance it was possible to save the Laboratory Theatre and transfer it to Wrocław.

26 September 1964

Place: Opole

The first recorded one-on-one rehearsal involving Grotowski and Cieślak for The Constant Prince.

23 October 1964

Place: Wrocław

The Finance Department of the Presidium of the National Council of the City of Wrocław issues a note to the Finance Department of the Voivodeship National Council in Opole regarding the transfer of the Laboratory Theatre of 13 Rows from the budget of the Opole Voivodeship to the budget of the city of Wrocław.

23–25 October 1964

Place: Wrocław

Performances of Akropolis in Sala Rycerska of the Town Hall as part of Festiwal Polskich Sztuk Współczesnych (Festival of Contemporary Polish Drama); at the same time, the press carries information regarding the transfer of the Theatre to Wrocław.

Early November 1964

Place: Warsaw

The journal Pamiętnik Teatralny (no. 3, 1964) includes the following articles in its ‘Portret teatru’ section: Ludwik Flaszen’s ‘Dziady, Kordian, Akropolis w Teatrze 13 Rzędów’ and Zbigniew Raszewski’s ‘Teatr 13 Rzędów’. This was unprecedented in the history of a journal dedicated primarily to the history of theatre; at the same time, these articles offered the fullest presentation of Grotowski’s achievements and ideas available in Poland.

1 November 1964

Place: Warsaw

Polish Radio’s Third Programme presents a broadcast titled ‘Akropolis nasze’ (Our Acropolis) featuring fragments of Akropolis preceded by a conversation between Jerzy Grotowski and Jerzy Falkowski.

5 November 1964

Place: Wrocław

Jerzy Nowak, director of the Department of Culture of the Presidium of the National Council of the City of Wrocław, sends Jerzy Grotowski a note informing him that according to the decrees of the Wrocław and Opole authorities, the transfer of the Theatre would take place on 1 January 1965.

29 November 1964

Place: Opole

On the forty-fifth anniversary of the inauguration of the activities of Reduta, Grotowski – in the name of the Company – sends a telegraph to former Redutans participating in an annual meeting in Warsaw, with Grotowski declaring that he considers the traditions of Reduta a component of his own.

4–6 December 1964

Place: Opole

A visit by the company of Teatr Juliusza Osterwy in Gorzów Wielkopolski, whose director and artistic director is Irena Byrska. The actors from Gorzów observe rehearsals and participate in exercises.

8 December 1964

Place: Opole

Grotowski issues a note to the Department of Culture of the Presidium of the National Council of the City of Wrocław in which he outlines the principles according to which the activities of the Laboratory Theatre would be carried out in Wrocław. The note includes a demand that a former monastery building at 5 Bernardyńska Street be renovated for the needs of the Theatre, while also including provisions regarding the institutional anchoring of the Theatre within Towarzystwo Miłośników Wrocławia (Society of Friends of Wrocław).