Grotowski believed in the theatre through the actor.  For him the only things required for a production were the actors.  He felt that if an audience was present that they were part of the production.  To prepare an audience, he would sometimes  taxi them  blindfold in cars to the venue.  At other times he hired a double decker bus.  He would have strategically placed  actors confront members of the audience on their way to their seats.   The actor Derek Smith said that Grotwski once sat on the toilet , door open, in full view of the audience as they walked up the stairs to the auditorium.  Grotowski’s philosphy of  the impact of theatre and his love of actors and their total art was way ahead of his time.  It is now more in tune with the new directors of the theatre of today.

He wanted audiences to experience truths about human experience, through watching actors access their own inner truth.

It was a spiritual; and for him a journey through religion – he sort to reveal how much of what we show to the world is of necessity – artifice. The rituals of  our daily lives giving meaning to this artifice.

He trained his actors to strip themselves of pre-conceived ideas, received knowledge, intellectual thought and to feel safe.

He believed that we all keep ourselves apart from universal truths by wearing our daily masks.  He wanted actors to strip away those masks.  He felt that in his contemporary theatre the scenery, lighting, make-up, acting techniques all went towards making the theatre a display of approval for the way things were.

He realised that film and television satisfied the public’s need for stories and entertainment.  For him the theatre would survive through the experience which only live actors could give.

In order that the actor could “let go” – he trained them extensively – physically and mentally.  This way the actor had supreme power over his mental and physical state – the power to let go.

He worked with his actors in laboratory conditions over months and months.

So what is the relevance of Grotowski today?  All actors have chosen this profession to work in and all actors want to be able to give of themselves freely to the parts they are asked to play.

At the same time we have a right to protect ourselves including our psyche against anything which will harm us or interfere with our daily lives.

The reason why Grotowski’s work was therapeutic in the best sense of the word for his actors, was that the actors were monitored and supported through the whole of the process.  They were nurtured while learning to lay all bare.

What I have learned is that Grotowski’s experiments and findings for the voice are of great value to the actor. To Grotowski, the voice and body mirrored the text.  The voice was a medium through which the actor could reveal the ‘core’ of himself.

Every time I give a Grotowski inspired voice workshop we are in a sense in a laboratory.  All that is required is that we relax and ‘feel’ on a level that can be unusual to us.

We explore the methods of Grotowski’s work on the voice and discover how to access the natural emotional openings that the voice uses.  Words alone do not fully express what we are thinking.   The physical and emotional release of our feelings is all encompassing, glowing freedom, when we speak from the core of our emotions.


Written by Frances Parkes (c) 2006- 17