Byrski Tadeusz, Byrska Irena

Irena (1901–97) i Tadeusz (1906–87), husband and wife, theatre artists, directors and actors who after 1945 together ran several Polish theatres. Prior to 1939, Tadeusz Byrski was involved with Reduta as a student at its Institute and also worked there as an actor between 1924 and 1926. In 1944–1945, the Byrskis together ran the Scena Dziecięca (Children’s Stage) in Stoczek Łukowski before taking on the Instytut Artystyczny (Artistic Institute) in Kazimierz on the Vistula (1945–46) and an orphanage in Sierakówek (1946–47). Following short stints as artistic directors in Opole and Toruń, they moved to Kielce in 1952 to take on the post at the Stefan Żeromski Theatre where they managed to create a venue within an ambitious and original programme, while also developing close bonds with the city’s cultural community. They attempted to achieve something similar as artistic directors of two theatres in Poznań (Polski and Nowy during the 1958/59 season) and then in the Juliusz Osterwa Theatre in Gorzów Wielkopolski (1963–66). Although they worked outside the main centres of theatre life in Poland, thanks to their dedicated and consistent work, as well as their exemplary ethical attitude, they belong among the most important and most noble figures in postwar Polish theatre. Since 1960, Irena Byrska and Tadeusz Byrski were linked to Grotowski by an artistic friendship, the best evidence for which is the publication of their correspondence from the 1980s and 1990s, edited by Zbigniew Osiński. They were loyal supporters of Grotowski and were also amongst the small number of Polish theatre artists who already very early on endeavoured for his methods to be introduced to Polish theatres more broadly. Already on 4–6 December 1964, Irena Byrska together with the actors from the Osterwa Theatre in Gorzów visited The Theatre of 13 Rows in order to observe rehearsals and participate in exercises. Both Irena and Tadeusz were an important link between Grotowski and the traditions of Reduta.


Tadeusz Byrski: Teatr – Radio. Wspomnienia, Warszawa 1976.

Zbigniew Osiński: Nazywał nas bratnim teatrem. Przyjaźń artystyczna Ireny i Tadeusza Byrskich z Jerzym Grotowskim, Gdańsk 2005.

Teatr Byrskich. Refleksje, dokumenty, wspomnienia, wybór i opracowanie Małgorzata Iskra i Magdalena Rzepka, Kielce 1992.