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Jerzy Grotowski. L’eredità vivente

Human praxis in the light of Grotowski’s works

A response to the call for an Act

Iwona E. Rusek
Traduction de Marta Kowalczyk

Texte intégral

«It’s all about the path of life and cognition».
Jerzy Grotowski

1I will begin with a quotation from Wacław Berent’s article which reads as follows:

  • 1 W. Berent, Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu, in Id., Pisma rozproszone. Listy (Disperse Works. Lette (...)

The deeper and more reliable makings, the more desperately they need to fight in this web of moldy angles: the nobler wild apples trees, the sooner they wither in the musty air. – “Be yourself” - these simple words never reach them, while they constantly hear: “be something for someone or something”. So they bend, bend and break to fulfill the obligation. They break in the most tragic manner, because only by half they believe in that obligation, yet completely and earnestly despising themselves as a passive victim.
“Who are you? What do you love the most? What attracts and controls your soul, what makes it happy?” – among the young ones, who and where can hear such questions today. And each of them feels with their repressed instinct of life that a lot of debris from the things that once lived and today, in the name of caring hypocrisy uncleared, built a border wall between the spirit and will, book and life, every idea and its active exposure, has accumulated around
1.

2I have brought up this particular text because the writer raises one of the most essential issues for human existence – the recognition of one’s own nature. The question of «Who am I?» delimits the boundaries of initial knowledge. Initial, for connected with the essence of myself as a human. Capturing the moment when the fundamental question about the source of one’s essence is born, allows to initiate the process of creating oneself as a person. This was already mentioned by Plato in his Symposium, in which, using Diotima’s words, he explained the stages of development of Eros that actually represented the developmental stages of human consciousness. Hence, in order to come into being as a person (the second level), one needs to understand own nature as well as the nature of the world first. Learning the mechanisms of the surrounding reality is the key to human development in the individual and collective dimension. That is why both text, i.e. Plato’s as well as Berent’s, are still topical. The problem defined in them affects every human being, without exception. Yet, Berent does not just stop there. He takes his reflections one step further, unveiling the scale and the kind of consequences that must be borne by the individual devoid 105 of their vital questions. When I analyze the words from the quotation with regard to my own life, I realize that I have never been asked those fundamental, most evident questions. They were absent at home, at school or during my university years. They passed me by, even though I should have been growing up with them, falling asleep and waking up with them by my side every day. For they are questions about me, about my source, my truth, my act as a human. Their place was taken over by the “be something for someone or something” injunction and the using and training mechanism, which formed me like a pap, adjusting to the standard norms and models but, above all, trained me in playing various roles (a good girl, a diligent student, a loving wife). And if at this point I am to ask about my position in all of this, the only answer that comes to my mind is: I do not know because I do not recognize the sound of Berent’s text not only shows the essence of questions fundamental for the human beings, but, above all, it depicts all the consequences of their lack. The range of this lack covers the whole human existence. It changes life into vegetation deprived of any operation – operation without which humans do not really exist.

3The above-mentioned quotation of Berent and the related reflections did not appear without a reason. They were evoked by the question Mario Biagini had asked me: “What is alive and topical for you in Grotowski’s texts?”. At first, I thought it was a very easy and effortless one since what could be difficult in defining the still present-day elements in the works of one of the biggest, as I thought, reformers of theatre worldwide? However, when I started to analyze his texts, my answer seemed to lose its original obviousness and began to fade away. It vanished completely after I had read this particular fragment:

  • 2 J. Grotowski, Reply to Stanislawski, in Id., Teksty z lat 1965-1969, Wybór, Wrocław 1990, p. 161. S (...)

I do not feel that theater is my goal. There is only Act. It could be that this Act was quite close to the text of the drama as the base. But I cannot ask myself the question: was it or was it not a realization of the text? I do not know. I do not know if it was or if it was not faithful. I am not interested in the theater of word, because it is based on a false perception of human existence. I am also not interested in physical theater. For what is it really? Stunts on stage? Scream? Rolling on the floor? Violence? Neither the word nor physical theater -nor the theater, but the living existence in one’s own exposure2.

  • 3 Obok teatru. Rozmowa Jerzego Grotowskiego z Konstantym Puzyna˛, «Dialog», n. 7, 1973.
  • 4 J. Grotowski, Tu es le fils de quelqu’un, «Didaskalia» Gazeta Teatralna, n. 39, 2000, p. 11. See al (...)
  • 5 W. Berent, Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu cit., p. 128.

4Reading this text, I wonder what “the living existence in one’s own exposure” actually is. Using Berent’s quotation and internal intuition, I sense or, in fact, I know that it is about me, about you, about anyone reading it. So if I am the “the living existence”, then I should know what is living for me? And here comes Berent again, as in his fragment above he makes me aware of the essential lack concerning my own self. The lack of the life-giving source which I would be able to use in order to create myself, see you, meet you. This awareness revealed in Berent’s text is strongly present in Grotowski’s works, who uses them to directly address me, telling me to think about «what want is all about, what kind of lack in life it awakens in us3», convinces me to contrast it with «lack in the way, I live my own life4». He, just like Berent, asks if I know who I am. Do I know what I am doing with my life? When I look for the answers, I notice being surrounded by «the border wall5» and my own self is foreign and hostile. The only familiar thing is the fencing off – loneliness. The I-I, I-Thou, I-We loneliness. The loneliness which embraces and absorbs my whole human praxis. And so Biagini’s question comes back to me and keeps on bothering me with its topicality and accuracy. I suddenly begin to understand that looking for an answer to “What is alive and topical for you in Grotowski’s texts?” is simply an invitation to work on myself. It is a call for me to act; to turn to myself, to discover what I am, to find my source. But how can I do that? Only through the encounter with Grotowski; at first, in the question and then in the effort of responding because alive and topical is that which is common for me, him, you, us as human beings, i.e. the question: How to live? Therefore, if I am to write about Jerzy Grotowski, the only thing I can write about, or rather share, is the reflection from my encounter with him. My indirect, yet very intimate encounter; one by hand of his work and texts. Here, I touch upon the principal matter: in his texts, Grotowski wrote about concretes resulting from the direct experience of work. It is not my experience. Hence, how can I understand it? How to write about something I have never experienced? The only chance is that encounter with him on the human ground because he addresses me, the reader, another different brotherly creature with the question about my life, about what is important for me. And even though those questions reach me from a sheet of paper, I feel they are approaching a live human who, with their help, communicates with the live human inside me. Significant is also the fact that the beginning, which takes place during the encounter, has the power of crossing the personal level of relation. Grotowski talks about it in such a way:

  • 6 J. Grotowski, Teatr Źródeł, «Zeszyty Literackie», n. 19, 1987, p. 105.

In my work, there have always been two strands: the first one -more or less public, the second -exclusively personal.
And this second strand was continuous. I kept it going alone or with some people. But I never talked about it in public. Back when I was working in the performance theater, the public strand was very prominent. The personal one remained nearly invisible and simply concerned the rehearsals. For me, rehearsals were never a search for result, but they had a pure value in themselves -the value of something that can happen between existences when they exceed the commonness.
During the theater of participation period, when our public activities became paratheatrical internships, I was working alone with a very small group of people. In these works, we were also not looking for an effect, although they were the starting point for our internship actions, because my friends had some of their own parallel open work. It was then when I moved out of our Hall in Wroclaw and out of town, where I could be completely isolated.
The moment when I said to myself that perhaps it is high time that my personal work had become much more open, more public, but not in the sense of organizing a show, but simply to let people know that I conduct this search, finally came
6.

  • 7 I do not intend to become a worshipper of Grotowski. Sometimes in life we come across sentences, th (...)
  • 8 «A man has only himself to say. The only remarkable thing that a man has really to say – I am not t (...)
  • 9 Ibid.

5Having in mind the credo from Berent’s text («Be yourself!»), I can safely repeat after Grotowski7 that «I have only myself to say8”, what makes me begin to be towards9», in touch; what makes me want to ask and fight for the answer, which I will make my life because my human praxis is at stake. Therefore, I believe that in order to write about Grotowski I have to be an expert in the field of theatre. I also do not feel that in my striving for the comprehension of his internal logic and his concepts it is necessary to apply any research methods. However, it does not mean that I condemn or reject those research methods or views. No, I simply think that in this particular case, when it comes to reflection on Grotowski’s texts, I find it impossible to employ any research methods. Someone could ask: why? And I would ask back: Does life have its definition? Is it possible to encase it in defined forms? If it was possible, we would not be enraptured by sunrises or suddenly heard singing. The whole beauty of the performance of life taking place right in front of us consists in the fact that we are able to experience and to grasp it, to take a deep breath, to look and actually see, to listen and actually hear. All of this may happen once or never. But we need to look for it.

  • 10 The way that Grotowski spells the Polish Word człowiek in foreign translations suggests that he doe (...)

6In one of the most important, at least in my opinion, texts, i.e. Tu es le fils de quelqu’un Grotowski clearly asks each and every one of us: «Are you a human10?». The article ends and leaves me with the question ringing in my ears. It is familiar but, at the same time, very distant. I begin to wonder what kind of a question it is. Does it concern me? And finally: do I know the answer to it? And suddenly, in a flash I recognize that what gave me the first impulse to analyze Berent’s text, now, through Grotowski’s work, or in fact through his question, it materializes and becomes real. Becomes my life. The moment when for the second time I truly realize the lack of answer to the “Am I a human?” question becomes a land-mark for me. On the one hand, it is extremely beautiful. Yet it is horrible as I have to deal with the undeniable fact that I do not know the answer to it, on the other. I do not know the answer to the question concerning me – me as a human. Thus, how can I answer the question “What is alive and topical in Grotowski’s works?”, since I have no answer to the most important question; the question whose answer will make me a human. The phenomenon of this unpleasant knowledge (for I was definitely not happy realizing such a huge lack in my life) is an instant existence on the “I” level. A genius paradox in its simplicity and obviousness: I do not know if I am a human but I know that my “I” exists. “I” as “I”. However, do I know what “I” is? Again, no. A vicious circle. Grotowski minutely described his own process of reaching “I” in Theatre of sources (Teatr Z´ródeł):

  • 11 J. Grotowski, Theatre of sources, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 255.

[…] from this time on I started to try, practically to make this investigation: ‘Who-am-I?’ which was not a mental investigation, but rather as if going more and more towards the source from which this feeling of ‘I’ appears. The more this source seems to be approached, the less the ‘I’ is. It is as if a river would turn and flow towards its source. And in the source, there is no longer a river11?

7Reading those words, I repeatedly stop, think, wonder because I do not know, I am not sure if I have ever taken part in looking for the essence of “I”. Not to remember if you know what your own “I” is. Horrible and painful. And I should be making my “I” present. I should meet it. And again, I refer to Berent, who in his thoughts about “individualism” states the following thing:

  • 12 W. Berent, Wste˛p do przekładu Upaniszad, in Id., Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu cit., p. 186.

What in everyday life we call individuality is usually an absurd cluster of randomness, to which the apparent uniformity and consistency in doings is given perhaps only due to the physical temperament. Individuality does not «is», each time, with extraordinary consistency, it «becomes» in a strenuous activity and work12.

8Making yourself in work, in self-communion – Berent writes. Making yourself in action, on the path of praxis as an Act – Grotowski claims. Both of these voices become one loud sound – a call. A call for my Act. For my human praxis which is the way of answering the question: “Am I a human?”.

  • 13 J. Grotowski, Performer, in Id., Teksty z lat 1965-1969 cit., p. 216; Id., Performer, in The Grotow (...)
  • 14 Grotowski writes about being standing, in the face of knowing your own essence and what takes place (...)
  • 15 «I do not think that my work in theatre could be described as a new method […]. It is about the pat (...)
  • 16 Awakening as understood in Grotowski’s Theatre of sources, «Zeszyty Literackie», n. 19, Summer 1987 (...)
  • 17 Id., Reply to Stanislavsky cit., p. 148.

9Hence, what is the Act that Grotowski calls me to? That Act triggers comprehension which is not a form nor a way to control reality. It is a state of perfect perception which generates the beginning, which takes place in the present, which makes me “being looked at13”. Therefore, in the effort to answer the above question is all about being ready, being present, being on the way. Yet, what do those notions actually mean? I am present when I am in me, in my nature, in my physical and organic need for curiosity14. I am not subject to training or to fears, but I am. I am on the way because I am strutting in the direction of life and knowledge15. I am ready to confront myself, you, us. I am ready to meet myself and the world, I begin to really feel and hence, I am awakened16 . The human Act is the act of creation, as the human is being created anew, comes into being. The human is in the process. The human is in recognition. Thus, “creating in truth17 it is the everyday effort of becoming a human. Becoming that takes place in exposure. The exposure is not arming for

  • 18 Id., Takim, jakim sie˛ jest, cały, «Odra», 1972, n. 5, p. 53.

we arm ourselves in order to hide, honesty begins where we are vulnerable. Honesty is not possible if we hide, we hide behind clothes, ideas, characters, staging tricks, intellectual concepts, gymnastics, yelling, chaos. If the method makes any sense, it is precisely as a way of disarmament, not technique18 .

  • 19 «If we look for a way to hide behind the intellectual concepts, ideas, slogans, i.e. – if we consci (...)
  • 20 I use this notion with regard to the meaning in this text, i.e. the process of becoming a human eve (...)

10This quote again calls me to answer. Or rather to come up with a sincere reflection, a conversation with myself; to ask the question: could it be that my entire life, i.e. the life I know, was nothing more than arming myself? Why? Because it is the only thing I know; it is the only thing I was taught. Right after that another question follows – one about work, a vital sphere for me – and it reads: when do I as women scientist hide behind intellectual concepts? The answer is sad, because how else can I describe the fact that I use and hide behind other people’s views for I lack my own ones and I am afraid to admit it19. This “discovery”, transposed to the dis­cussion about Grotowski, means that it is easier to interpret his thoughts, because then you can hide behind the opinion and arm yourself with the method, rather than continue the path of knowledge, of which he talked about20. At this point, it is worth to recall the words of Arthur Schopenhauer who in his philosophy accurately diagnosed the arming mechanisms (objectivity), both in body and mind. To the latter refers the following excerpt from his reflections:

  • 21 A. Schopenhauer, World as Will and Representation, vol. I, § 47, trans. by J. Garewicz, Warszawa 19 (...)

Everyone who possesses a beautiful and rich mind will always express himself in the most natural, direct, and simple way, concerned, if it be possible, to communicate his thoughts to others […] And conversely, poverty of mind, confusion, and perversity of thought, will clothe itself in the most far-fetched expressions and the obscurest forms of speech, in order to wrap up in difficult and pompous phraseology small, trifling, insipid, or commonplace thoughts […]. Many an author, if compelled to translate his pompous and obscure book into its little clear content, would be as utterly spoilt […]21.

  • 22 W. Filler, Rozmowa z Grotowskim, «Kultura», n. 11, 1968.

11Analyzing the words of Schopenhauer, juxtaposing them with the reflections of Berent and Grotowski, I realize that the reason why I pick up the views and opinions of others is my fear to expose my own ignorance. Fears grow into me and connect with me so tightly that I recognize them as a part of myself; they are like roots that do not provide me with base but rather the illusion of constancy. Functioning in fear and from selfish motives leads to isolation, building a wall of indifference behind which there is no meeting, work, exchange of ideas; there is no effort to search nor satisfaction of finding what is still alive. Instead, there is killing with quotes. Therefore, always, even though it is difficult, you have to ask the question: why am I doing this? My personal answer is: I hide behind the intellectual concepts in order to hide my own motivation, to lie. Motivation is closely linked to my needs. These, in turn, generate action. As a scientist, I also befit to state at this point that motivation determines the research method. Always and invariably. So when it comes, I should investigate it and observe it as it is inextricably coupled with my human nature. With me as a human. Thanks to it, I know who I am. About this process of discovering one’s own essence through motivation Grotowski writes: «Our duty is to create, i.e., to reveal the hidden motives of human action and human experience. What is among people. To disclose – to explore and to open up and to admit to ourselves in a disciplined manner. Disciplined – not an amateur, aware of the purpose and structure22».

  • 23 See: J. Grotowski, Holiday, «Odra», n. 8, 1972. See also: Id., Holiday [Święto]. The Day that is Ho (...)

12And only the awareness of these internal mechanisms (and they have already been mentioned in the quotation from Berent and Plato’s short reflections!) allows me to re-read and to answer the call repeatedly formulated by Grotowski: «What you do with your life? Do you want to hide or reveal yourself23?». I already know that the answer, that exposure is the essence of humanity, is fulfilled by the daily praxis.

13I perceive the exposure discussed by Grotowski through two interpenetrating levels: word and doing. Exposure refers to the phenomenon of understanding, therefore, according to Grotowski, touches the essence of life:

  • 24 Grotowski repeated, ed. by S. Rosiek, Gdańsk 2009, p. 102.

[…] one who seeks should seek Understanding, rather than formulas (definitions); one who tries to memorize the formulas (definitions) does not grab the Understanding. This matter touches something almost mystical, and yet concrete. The ancients spoke of the so-called living ideas (something like a living being or genetic code reproducing itself.) If the living idea meets the Understanding, it is reborn in the person listening; it grows, reproduces along with the language form like the genetic code. Written as the formula, it dies, even if the ‘literal’ words were written24.

  • 25 «Whenever we limit ourselves to certain notions, we fly away into the world of ideas and abstract t (...)

14Hence, the source of the word comes from life and that is why it is so important for me to be present in order to understand all the direct and indirect processes that concern me; in order for me to b e in life, not somewhere beside, not above, but “in”, “towards”. At the opposite extreme of the living idea, there is a formula or an abstract judgment based on the image of the surrounding world, usually not having a lot in common with it25, and generating the state of separation from other beings, permanent denial of being a “towards”. Therefore, creating in the mind an opinion on a person or a phenomenon, I am usually not directed by the desire to know or understand, but rather by a personal motive. Opinion is supposed to justify it, make it real so that it can regain its place in space (rumor, judgment, belief). Besides, the establishment of opinions which are derived from the structures dead at the base is in fact a way of reinforcement, hiding yourself and your motivations.

  • 26 American encounter. An interview with Jerzy Grotowski by Richard Schechner and Theodore Hoffman, in (...)

There was a period during my career when I wanted to find the logical explanation for everything. I made formulas that were abstract so that they could encompass two divergent processes. But these abstract formulas bared no connection with reality; I was creating beautiful sentences that made impression that everything is logical. It was a fraud and I made my decision – never again26.

  • 27 «For me, as a director, words are unimportant. What matters to me is what we do with them – that wh (...)

15At this point, it should be noted that the use of complex structures of thought is indeed an appealing activity, since it has the hallmarks of real praxis (what we think always bares the signs of reality), and the one doing so, in the general public’s opinion, is given the name of a wise and erudite. Nobody wonders nor even asks about the meaning and importance of such views formulated or created in this way, separated from the actual operation of mental beings. Therefore, if the word does not imply a genuine exposure, it is dead27. Then, in part, also I am dead, because I use the abstract structures of the mind, which are distant from life and its processes; they do not determine its essence; they do not affect its meaning, they remain on the outskirts of what is true and important. They dig a well of our loneliness.

  • 28 J. Grotowski, Holidaywięto), «Odra», n. 8, 1972, p. 49.

Perhaps everything I talk about today is perceived as metaphors. But there are no metaphors, it is tangible and practical. It is not a philosophy, it is something that we do, and whoever thinks it is a way to express thoughts, is mistaken, it must be understood literally, it is experience28.

16Experience is not a metaphor, it is real. First, because I do it, which means that I remain in touch with myself and others. Secondly, it awakens in me the impression and experience of what I do. And that is not a metaphor. Moreover, metaphor belongs to the world of words and “I” by the action exists in the world of doing. It is a world, or rather, a space of exposure in which there is a sense of meaning and the courage to do what is alive and important for me, but above all – for others. This means that at the base of a written text there is a real act. It precedes it. It creates it. It gives it its shape and meaning.

  • 29 Id., Tu es le fils de quelqu’un cit., p. 11; Id., Tu es le fils de quelqu’un, in The Grotowski Sour (...)

[…] I stood face to face with Słowacki or Calderón and it was like Jacob’s fight with the angel: «Tell me your secret!» But, to say the truth, your secret, what the hell? What counts is our secret, for us living today. But if I understand your secret, Calderón, I am going to understand my own29.

  • 30 Ibid.
  • 31 I intentionally refer here to a quotation that reads as follows: «The art at high level is discover (...)
  • 32 Paraphrase of Grotowski’s Reply to Stanislavsky cit., p. 160.

17Understanding the mystery of life that Grotowski writes about involves recognition of what is here and now, because 115 its source comes from what it was. Not otherwise. Therefore, about the authors-ancestors, with whom Grotowski waged fierce disputes, he states openly: «They are my foundation, they are my source30». This source may be revealed through the answer to the question about what texts constitute food for my inner being? This food is something important for me. Important, because current. Current, because present. Pres­ent, because tangible in my life. In the daily struggle against myself and the world, in constant awe but also in fear of what surrounds me. From this perspective, literary texts are the source of discovering complete humanity31. Then I become Kordian, Grazyna, The Groom, Rachel, Zosia, Telimena, Doctor Judym… I become all of them and they become me, they have my face, my body, they are tormented by my passions, they express my longing and inner volition. I begin to understand myself, accompanied by them, I ask questions to the rhythm of their words and I recognize my own voice in their responses. I live their lives which bare the traces of my existence, I share their experience growing out of my needs. In this text-life, I find something alive, something in common with the human praxis, which I understand as sameness; the state in which the “I” turns into “You” and vice versa; a process perfectly captured by a Sanskrit phrase tat twam asi. It makes me research them (i.e. other people, literary characters) with «body-memory, the body life. I do not name them32». I am them. I am myself. I am.

  • 33 J. Grotowski, Performer cit., p. 214; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 376.
  • 34 W. Berent, Wstęp do przekładu Upaniszad cit., pp. 184-185.
  • 35 Ivi, p. 186. I refer to the articles of Wacław Berent already quoted before, i.e. Źródła i ujścia n (...)

18Exposure in doing indicates that the Act of man is an act of creative knowledge33. Again, I begin to think of Wacław Berent’s reflections, however, this time from an article titled Wstęp do przekładu Upaniszad. The writer clearly points out, obviously following the thought of Sankara Sri, that there are two reasons preventing pure knowledge: the first one is moving the object quality to the subject; the second – the pervasive selfishness34. This means that both mistakes at the level of the mind (abstract judgments) as well as personal motivation isolate every man from the essence of life. «The ultimate source of knowledge can only be a revelation35» – reads the text of Berent, and suddenly everything, i.e. the current discussion of texts, including the modernist Flaubert as well as Grotowski, seem to fall into a logical sequence (revelation disarmament-exposure-act-cognition).

  • 36 J. Grotowski, Performer cit., p. 216; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 378.
  • 37 Ivi, p. 214.
  • 38 Nie chcęwalczyć o rzeczy osiągnie˛te. Jerzy Grotowski talks to Alina Paprocka, «Dziennik Bałtycki», (...)
  • 39 See Reply to Stanislavsky, where Grotowski writes about the emotional memory, about the “body-memor (...)
  • 40 «Perhaps it is impossible to answer the question of how to be yourself with words – but without a d (...)
  • 41 See: Id., Tu es le fils de quelqu’un cit.,

19“Know yourself that you are a man” -preached the sign in front of an Apollonian temple and it was the highest order the ancients knew. It referred directly to the process of understanding their own, i.e. inner essence, its purpose and mean­ing, and above all, its relation to others. Hence, the knowledge of yourself, of “what you are as a whole”, is the first real act of each individual existence. With exposure as a process streaming inside, there is room for «the bird, which picks up and the bird that looks on36». In this way, I cease to exist only in time, I am not subjected to the limitations of an abstract mind and selfish desires. I begin to be present. The essence of this transformation lies in the remembering, the discovery «as it is remembered in me37» the basic science, because «as someone very wise said -when you discover something on the surface, it is as if we remembered something forgotten38». It is s Platonic act of recovering knowledge, of what is stored in the skin39 (Performer), in a word (literary texts), in the sound (songs, but also words), is a source that feeds me. Knowing yourself (I-I) enables the highest Act – meeting with the other (I-You), which takes place in exposure, in finding the light that, at least for a moment, will illuminate what we have in common and what is alive, will reveal the fullness taking place in the presence40. Observation of another man sharp­ens understanding of self, creates room for the heart and soul, builds mastery and precision at work41, in action, in co-existence, whose essence is meeting.

  • 42 Id.,, O praktykowaniu romantyzmu, «Dialog», n. 3, 1980, p. 115.
  • 43 Id.,, Takim, jakim się jest cały, «Odra», n. 5, 1972.

20In order for all this mentioned by Grotowski to come into effect, truth is required. The first truth always concerns me, it is a stipulation and a challenge – «Do not lie to myself42». It is not lying that exposes «all that I am43», in this sense I understand the disarmament as a complete realization, as a summoning of human fullness. It is not only about my personal level, but about the human in me, in you, in us, in them. In everyone I meet on my way or on the other side of the street where the daily life takes place. Thus, Grotowski aims at a complete, i.e. daily expo-sure of self with and against another person. At experiencing it with your whole self. The experience of self and other people as something alive. Of what really exists. Of what is here and now (hic et nunc). Along with this process (experiencing), the conscience makes us aware about its presence.

  • 44 Id., Performer cit., p. 215; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 377.

Essence: etymologically, it’s a question of being, of be-ing. Essence interests me because nothing in it is sociological. It is what you did not receive from others, what did not come from outside, what is not learned. For example, conscience is something which belongs to essence; it is different from the moral code which belongs to society. If you break the moral code you feel guilty and it is society which speaks in you. But if you do an act against conscience, you feel remorse – this is between you and yourself, and not between you and society. Because almost everything we possess is sociological, essence seems to be a little thing, but it is ours44.

  • 45 It refers to the paragraph entitled: I-I in Performer.

21Be-ing, be-coming as an expression of being in self, knowing what I am. Of disclosure of the I-I and I-Thou relationship. This disclosure involves the courage to cross barriers, hence it reveals the freedom and the need to be complete, so while confronting, one has a chance to express themselves: one can “see” themselves, be self aware, be «the eye that looks and is looked45». This is a moment of true freedom, because I know who I am and what I want to do. Otherwise, there is a bound, incapacity, frustration and the worst: sterility. Therefore, in order to truly do something, using that whole self, to do something emerging from the depths of my human being, I should be honest. First, with myself and then with others and the world. At this point, I do not seem to find comfort due to discovering my answer to the question, because Grotowski asks another: Do you know what is your life? And then he adds strongly: Do you know why you live? Do you know your need? Can you not only articulate it, but also make it real? Make your temptation real, as I understand it, to live in harmony with self, with attention to others, the willingness of moving “towards” another person. A truism, someone may say, shrugging their shoulders. That’s right – I may answer and then also ask: what is not a truism today? What are truth and values if every day we have to face an absolute and perfectly organized downfall of any meaning.

  • 46 J. Grotowski, To Swieto stanie sie mozliwe (From Royaumont, 11 October 1972), «Kultura», nr 52, z d (...)

22«How could we live, how to be, how to have a life -without shame. Without disgrace of self46» asks Grotowski and I just wonder what it means, what it might mean for me? And if for me, then also for you, for us. Disgrace of self embodies the lack in the way of life, in its original need; it reveals the misery and futility of existence built on pretense, fake communication, internal fear and frustration. Disgrace of self is a lost life. It is non-meeting, non-doing. Therefore, the order-call for me to strut along my path of knowledge, of the internal need concerns what is important for me as a human being and what I want to do; how I can really be in the world. Even the slightest attempt to answer makes the disgrace of life concern me less and less. And at the same time, it brings me closer to self, you, us. I stop being afraid, hiding, running away. I fight to be in the here and now. With you. Not next to you. I want to hear you and talk to you. This is my human daily praxis, the effort of becoming a human in word and doing.

23This is my human Act, my answer, my exposure. What about YOU? What about your act? Your exposure? What can we do together? What is your answer?

Notes

1 W. Berent, Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu, in Id., Pisma rozproszone. Listy (Disperse Works. Letters), ed. by R. Nycz, Kraków 1992, p. 128.

2 J. Grotowski, Reply to Stanislawski, in Id., Teksty z lat 1965-1969, Wybór, Wrocław 1990, p. 161. See also: J. Grotowski, Reply to Stanislavsky, transl. by K. Salata, «The Drama Review», vol. 52, n. 2 (T 198), Summer 2008.

3 Obok teatru. Rozmowa Jerzego Grotowskiego z Konstantym Puzyna˛, «Dialog», n. 7, 1973.

4 J. Grotowski, Tu es le fils de quelqu’un, «Didaskalia» Gazeta Teatralna, n. 39, 2000, p. 11. See also: J. Grotowski, Tu es le fils de quelqu’un, in The Grotowski Source-book, ed. by R. Schechner - L. Wolford, New York 2006, p. 295.

5 W. Berent, Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu cit., p. 128.

6 J. Grotowski, Teatr Źródeł, «Zeszyty Literackie», n. 19, 1987, p. 105.

7 I do not intend to become a worshipper of Grotowski. Sometimes in life we come across sentences, thoughts or words that reach something alive in us. The same happened in this case.

8 «A man has only himself to say. The only remarkable thing that a man has really to say – I am not talking about words - is self towards someone. No, not to­wards the viewer. During the encounter with any other human existence. There is a paradox there, that a man saying himself forgets himself and now there is only the other person, you see only the other person, you are only towards. Everything about the concept, the declaration is irrelevant», Obok teatru cit., p. 104.

9 Ibid.

10 The way that Grotowski spells the Polish Word człowiek in foreign translations suggests that he does not talk about men only, what could be believed based on the English Man, but he includes all people, all of the living and feeling beings.

11 J. Grotowski, Theatre of sources, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 255.

12 W. Berent, Wste˛p do przekładu Upaniszad, in Id., Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu cit., p. 186.

13 J. Grotowski, Performer, in Id., Teksty z lat 1965-1969 cit., p. 216; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 378.

14 Grotowski writes about being standing, in the face of knowing your own essence and what takes place inside and outside me. See: J. Grotowski, From the theatre company to art as vehicle, in Th. Richards, At Work with Grotowski on Physical Actions, trans. by M. Złotowska - A. Wojtasik, Kraków 2003, p. 166.

15 «I do not think that my work in theatre could be described as a new method […]. It is about the path of live and knowledge»: J. Grotowski, Reply to Stanislawsky cit., p. 164.

16 Awakening as understood in Grotowski’s Theatre of sources, «Zeszyty Literackie», n. 19, Summer 1987, pp. 114-115; Id., Theatre of sources, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 270.

17 Id., Reply to Stanislavsky cit., p. 148.

18 Id., Takim, jakim sie˛ jest, cały, «Odra», 1972, n. 5, p. 53.

19 «If we look for a way to hide behind the intellectual concepts, ideas, slogans, i.e. – if we consciously deceipt etery moment, we are doomed to misery»: Id.,, Reply to Stanislavsky cit., p. 161.

20 I use this notion with regard to the meaning in this text, i.e. the process of becoming a human every day.

21 A. Schopenhauer, World as Will and Representation, vol. I, § 47, trans. by J. Garewicz, Warszawa 1994, p. 357.

22 W. Filler, Rozmowa z Grotowskim, «Kultura», n. 11, 1968.

23 See: J. Grotowski, Holiday, «Odra», n. 8, 1972. See also: Id., Holiday [Święto]. The Day that is Holy, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit.

24 Grotowski repeated, ed. by S. Rosiek, Gdańsk 2009, p. 102.

25 «Whenever we limit ourselves to certain notions, we fly away into the world of ideas and abstract terms. We can create almost remarkable concepts, though they will belong to the kingdom of thought rather than the kingdom of real existence»: J. Grotowski, Tu es le fils de quelqu’un cit., p. 11.

26 American encounter. An interview with Jerzy Grotowski by Richard Schechner and Theodore Hoffman, in J. Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre, ed. by E. Barba, preface P. Brook, Wrocław 2007, p. 240.

27 «For me, as a director, words are unimportant. What matters to me is what we do with them – that what makes the dead words of a text come to life, what changes them into “a Word”»: Theatre is an encounter. An interview with Jerzy Grotowski by Naim Kattan, in J. Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre cit., p. 53.

28 J. Grotowski, Holidaywięto), «Odra», n. 8, 1972, p. 49.

29 Id., Tu es le fils de quelqu’un cit., p. 11; Id., Tu es le fils de quelqu’un, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 294.

30 Ibid.

31 I intentionally refer here to a quotation that reads as follows: «The art at high level is discovering, not exploiting» (Przemówienie doktora honoris causa Jerzego Grotowskiego, «Notatnik Teatralny», n. 4, 1992, p. 22).

32 Paraphrase of Grotowski’s Reply to Stanislavsky cit., p. 160.

33 J. Grotowski, Performer cit., p. 214; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 376.

34 W. Berent, Wstęp do przekładu Upaniszad cit., pp. 184-185.

35 Ivi, p. 186. I refer to the articles of Wacław Berent already quoted before, i.e. Źródła i ujścia nietzscheanizmu and Wstęp do przekładu Upaniszad.

36 J. Grotowski, Performer cit., p. 216; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 378.

37 Ivi, p. 214.

38 Nie chcęwalczyć o rzeczy osiągnie˛te. Jerzy Grotowski talks to Alina Paprocka, «Dziennik Bałtycki», n. 136, 17 i 8.06.1978.

39 See Reply to Stanislavsky, where Grotowski writes about the emotional memory, about the “body-memory”, “body-life”: «[…] everything is written there» cit., p. 159.

40 «Perhaps it is impossible to answer the question of how to be yourself with words – but without a doubt, it can be found in doing if you forget about yourself. If you forget All your thoughts. Like a tree. But in order for a human to forget about themselves, they need to be fully in something. What do, what they want. Or be fully with someone who is present. In other words, they need to stop thinking about themselves», J. Grotowski, Działanie jest dosłowne, «Dialog», n. 9, 1979, p. 97.

41 See: Id., Tu es le fils de quelqu’un cit.,

42 Id.,, O praktykowaniu romantyzmu, «Dialog», n. 3, 1980, p. 115.

43 Id.,, Takim, jakim się jest cały, «Odra», n. 5, 1972.

44 Id., Performer cit., p. 215; Id., Performer, in The Grotowski Sourcebook cit., p. 377.

45 It refers to the paragraph entitled: I-I in Performer.

46 J. Grotowski, To Swieto stanie sie mozliwe (From Royaumont, 11 October 1972), «Kultura», nr 52, z dn. 24.12.1972, p. 4.

Auteur

Marta Kowalczyk (Traducteur)