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Towards a Poor Theatre (Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback)) Paperback – March 1, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Theatre Arts (Routledge Paperback)
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (March 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878301550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878301553
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. F. Rick on October 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
There is no better book that I have read on the theory and practice of theatre. As Peter Brook says in the preface, "Grotowski is unique. Why? Because no-one else in the world, to my knowledge, no-one since Stanislavsky, has investigated the nature of acting, its phenomenon, its meaning, the nature and science of its mental-physical-emotional processes as deeply and completely as Grotowski."
Grotowski argues effectively that the split of the stage and the screen necessitates that the stage redefine its focus. The screen with its higher budget and countless retakes will always beat the stage in richness. So, Grotowski posits "If it [the stage] cannot be richer than the cinema, then let it be poor." The rest of the book illustrates what such a poor theatre means in practice. Brilliant.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Comprehending this book is no small feat. Sure, you start with the premise that competing with the technical spectacle of movies and TV is a fruitless pursuit. That's not difficult. Neither is the idea of embracing poverty in theatre and making the human being the only center of performance. That's dead easy. Spare costumes, little or no makeup, no sound effects, as few light effects as possible. Who can argue with that?
But this doesn't mean everybody can embrace Grotowski's vision of Poor Theatre. His is one that involves stripping away all preconceived notions of theatre from the early Modern period on. This will never fly in commercial theatre, dependent as it is on technology, nor will it satisfy many recent playwrights, who depend on technical do-funnies to make their shows work.
Grotowski also takes a funny view of plays, playwrights, and theoreticians who don't agree with him. Among other things, he considers playwrights as hired talent and plays as essentially malleable. He also suggests that the only way the writings of Artaud are useful in theatre is if they are taken elementally rather than globally - a position sure not to sit well with many avant-garde directors.
Because this book isn't a straight-ahead statement of principles, ideas, and practices, it yields its secrets only with difficulty. Parts of it aren't even written by Grotowski, but are interviews by other authors, or even observations that don't include quotes from the man himself. It was basically compiled to provide an overview of the ideas and products of the Polish Laboratory Theatre up to that time, and it encourages experiment and development by the reader.
This isn't to say that it isn't actually useful.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
"Towards A Poor Theatre" by Jerzy Grotowski is probably the most important book written on acting since Stainslavsky's three famous character books. There is so little known about Grotowski and many people have tried to fake his work and people need to read the man's original words. Grotowski's vision of theatre has had the greatest effect on me more than any other person in theatre. He saw acting as a Holy experience where both the actor and spectator were transformed after the performance. Grotowski expanded from where Stainslavsky left off and drew his ideas everywhere from modern art to religious rituals to primitive theatre. Any one interested in theatre must read this book somehow and be changed forever like I have.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I want to give this book two separate ratings. The content of the writing by Grotowski deserves five stars. His theatrical work in the twentieth century was vastly important, and this is the best book to discuss it.

I also want to give the Kindle edition a single star only, because the manuscript contains many plainly stupid typographical errors. The preface is so riddle with them it was difficult to read. There are more stupid errors throughout the body of the book.

What's more, it's not an inexpensive book. The Kindle edition cost more than $23. By charging that much, one would think they could pay a proofreader.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was suggested by our Director, and I am glad he did. A lot of good insight into a great minds' thoughts on what acting is about. While I may not run out and join a theater group like his, I definitely was able to learn a thing or two, walk away with a better sense of what I want to accomplish as an actor.
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Format: Paperback
I agree with an earlier reviewer that this is essential for theatre theory and practice because it is unique. In an age of excess and spectacle Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle as described by Hedges in the book I linked, we have lost all sense of humanity along with common sense. Look at the extreme greed of global capitalists and the debates from "conservative" Republicans in the U.S. running for president where Christian values take a backseat to politicized religious ideology. "Humanity suffers when The Many suffer for the wealth of a elite few." I'm quoting poet Hedwig Gorski whose book linked here documents Intoxication: Heathcliff on Powell Street how they put Grotowski's Poor Theater into practice in the 1970s in a skewed way, maybe a sloppy American way compared to the long traditions of Polish theatre. The results were fascinating, to say the least. It is fitting that this book is still available and in print. For those less interested in theory, you might be interested in knowing what the actors in the film My Dinner with Andre linked here My Dinner with Andre were discussing: Grotowski theatre exercises, theory, and practice. Years ago, I had the privilege of seeing a Grotowski trained actor from South America do a solo performance, and my life was changed forever. I highly recommend Grotowski essential book along with the two books and DVD I linked here as essential for anyone interested in theatre as well as changing the deteriorating state of our humanity.
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