Second Wrocław Studio

WSS is a theatre that operated from 1 January 1985 to 31 August 1989 in the former home of the Laboratory Theatre. On 28 April 1984, at the initiative of Stanisław Krotoski, director of the Department of Arts and Culture of the Province Governor’s Office, a meeting was held in the former premises of the Laboratory Theatre. Among those who attended were Janusz Degler, Józef Kelera and Tadeusz Burzyński, who in July 1984 put a request to the authorities to create a museum and archival institution in Wrocław, with a focus on the Laboratory Theatre and Institute. The programme of the Second Wrocław Studio was drafted in October 1984. It included the requirement for the proper preservation of the legacy of the Laboratory Theatre. Zbigniew Cynkutis, a former actor of the Laboratory Theatre, who had returned from the United States in August 1984 to begin work on creating a new theatre, was appointed WSS director. In November 1984 the Second Wrocław Studio established a company archive which functioned as a history and research department.

The Wrocław Second Studio began its activities on 1 January 1985, but it wasn’t until September 1985 that its Polish ensemble was complete. It consisted of ten actors: Dagmara Chojnacka, Jolanta Cynkutis, Katarzyna Latawiec-Prasał, Jolanta Kurach, Grażyna Błęcka-Kolska, Bogumił Gauden, Jerzy Kłosiński, Mariusz Prasał, Elwira Romańczuk and Mariusz Siudziński. The theatre also had an international ensemble. In February 1986, the WSS was joined by Mirosław Kocur, a final-year directing student of the State Theatre Academy in Kraków.

In its first season, the WSS premiered four productions. The Polish ensemble put up Phaedra-Seneca, directed by Cynkutis (29 January 1986), and Phaedra, directed by Kocur (2 May 1986). The international one staged Phaedra (February 1986) and Pablo Neruda’s The Splendor and Death of Joaquin Murieta, directed by Elizabeth Craven (19 June 1986). After the cool reception of Phaedra-Seneca, the atmosphere in the Polish ensemble began to worsen. As a consequence, half of its members left in May. Cynkutis, who had held the post of general and artistic director since 1 July 1986, was appointed artistic director. Tadeusz Nesterowicz became general director. The following season began with a performance of acting variations on Carl Gozzi’s Princess Turandot (3 October 1986), created by the international ensemble and directed by Dick van Gendt. The Polish ensemble premiered Aeschylus’ Prometheus (25 October 1986), which received a warm welcome from audiences and critics alike. These productions were followed by The Song of Songs, a piece for two actors (Jolanta Cynkutis and Marek Cichosz), based on Jakub Wujek’s translation, which was to be directed by Kocur, and Sophocles’ Oedipus the King, rehearsed under the direction of Cynkutis. As the relationship between Kocur and Cynkutis was becoming increasingly strained, Kocur and four actors left the WSS at the end of November. The Song of Songs was finally directed by Jan Jakub Kolski (20 December 1986). Oedipus the King was never finished, as on 9 January 1987 Zbigniew Cynkutis died in a car accident near Sobótka.

The Second Wroclaw Studio was left without artistic leadership, but it continued working. 13 March 1987 saw the premiere of Hamlet directed by Kim Mancuso and performed by the international ensemble. On 26 March 1987, the Centre for Documentation of the Laboratory Theatre, which emerged from the history and research department, was officially inaugurated. in In May 1987, the Polish ensemble staged Joanna Kulmowa’s The Story of a C-sharp Bird, directed by Mariusz Jeznach and featuring Spirituals Singers Band, whereas the international group premiered Bolox il..., based on Waiting for Godot. The final premiere of the season, The Fool’s Song, was an improvisation without words, created and performed by Khalid Tyabji (2 June 1987).

Mirosław Kocur returned to the WSS and became its artistic director at the start of the 1987−1988 season. This initiated ‘the second start of the Second Studio’ who produced: Słowacki’s Anhelli (1 November 1987); Gogol’s Dead Souls, directed by Kocur (11 March 1988); Martin Buber’s Elijah, translated and directed by Kocur (28 June 1988); Athol Fugard’s The Island (20 November 1988); and Calderón’s The Sorceries of Sin (18 January 1989).

In March 1989, the authorities decided to disband the Second Studio. The official reason was the low standard of its artistic work. The premiere of Don Juan, which was in rehearsal at that time, never took place. On 19 June 1989, a group of stagiares produced a new version of Elijah, which was critically acclaimed as the Second Studio’s most mature production.

On 21 June 1989, Zbigniew Osiński announced a plan to set up a centre for documenting research on the work of the Laboratory Theatre and Jerzy Grotowski. The Centre for Study of Jerzy Grotowski’s Work and for Cultural and Theatrical Research started life on 1 January 1990. In 2007 the Centre was transformed into the Grotowski Institute.

This entry was compiled by Katarzyna Lemańska based on Adela Karsznia’s MA thesis, Działalność Ośrodka Badań Tworczości Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwań Teatralno-Kulturowych w latach 1990–1994 (The Activity of the Centre for Study of Jerzy Grotowski’s Work and for Cultural and Theatrical Research in 1990–1994), written under the supervision of Prof Janusz Degler at the Department of Polish Studies of the University of Wrocław (Wrocław, 2003).