blasphemy [bluźnierstwo]

according to Grotowski, blasphemy is a conscious action aimed against symbols and values considered important, even sacred. He differentiated it from sacrilege – which is aimed against symbols and values considered anachronistic or alien to the person in action. In being linked to risk and transgression, blasphemy became an action that confirmed the vital force of that which was being attacked. According to Grotowski, blasphemy – in contrast to an act of faith – enabled one to distance oneself from one’s own roots while at the same time providing an affirmation of their force. Blasphemy was also a form of test which would show whether revered and protected values maintained any force whatsoever. Understood in this way, it was a fundamental tool in the dialectics of apotheosis and ridicule. The concept of the blasphemous attitude was developed by Grotowski and found practical application during work on two of the most important Polish Romantic dramas: Dziady (Forefathers’ Eve) and Kordian, where it was employed primarily in the context of the national myth of victimhood. In the period between staging these two dramas, Grotowski published in February 1962 a text titled ‘Możliwość teatru’ (The possibility of theatre), where he developed the concept of ‘atak na archetyp’ (‘the attack on the archetype’), which laid the foundations for the later differentiation between blasphemy and sacrilege. Elements of this conception of blasphemy became, from this point on, a permanent feature of all of Grotowski’s performances, most often linked to the attacks on and affirmation of the values of his most fundamental protagonist – Jesus Christ. Grotowski presented a synthesis of his views on blasphemy and sacrilege during the seventh lecture at the Collège de France on 20 October 1997.


Jerzy Grotowski: Możliwość teatru, „Materiały warsztatowe Teatru 13 Rzędów”, Opole 1962 nr 2 (luty), (23 strony nienumerowane).