active culture

an idea developed by Jerzy Grotowski and put into practice by the Laboratory Theatre company in the 1970s constituting one of the key elements of paratheatre and often discussed by Grotowski in his public appearances during this period. It stemmed from an opposition to the ‘passive’ culture of reception which relied on becoming acquainted with others’ works. The guiding principle of active culture was carrying out one’s own creative acts and actively participating in the creative process, rather than consuming others’ products. In the context of the performing arts, active culture suggested above all a departure from the clear division between active individuals (actors) and spectators, a division upon which the traditional conception of theatre is founded. In aiming to overcome it, Grotowski carried out activities termed ‘participatory theatre’ in which people from outside the theatre would not simply observe structured and pre-prepared actions by actors, but would instead, under the direction of leaders, participate in experiences and experiments prepared by them. The programme of active culture was influenced by counterculture, with the programme increasingly expanded so that it eventually also incorporated activities that were not part of paratheatrical work. Once Grotowski had withdrawn from the programme developed and carried out in the 1970s, and indeed had taken a critical stance towards it, the project of active culture was realised, expanded and recontextualised in its own particular ways by some of his former collaborators (including Leszek Kolankiewicz).


Na drodze do kultury czynnej. O działalności instytutu Grotowskiego Teatr Laboratorium w latach 1970-1977, opracowanie, dokumentacja prasowa Leszek Kolankiewicz, Instytut Aktora – Teatr Laboratorium, Wrocław 1978

Jerzy Grotowski: Działanie jest dosłowne, wypowiedź podczas konferencji Jerzego Grotowskiego w The Kościuszko Foundation w Nowym Jorku 19 kwietnia 1978 roku, przygotował do druku Leszek Kolankiewicz, „Dialog” 1979 nr 9, s. 95–101.

Jerzy Grotowski: Pogadanka o teatrze dla młodzieży szkolnej, pogadanka zarejestrowana przez Polskie Radio w październiku 1979 roku z przeznaczeniem dla szkół (klas licealnych), przygotował do druku Leszek Kolankiewicz, „Dialog” 1980 nr 2, s. 132–137.

Leszek Kolankiewicz: Kultura czynna: prahistoria animacji kultury, [w:] Animacja kultury. Doświadczenie i przyszłość, redakcja Grzegorz Godlewski i in., Warszawa 2002, s. 27–55.