Spychalski Teo

Teo Spychalski, fot. Maciej Zakrzewski

Teo Spychalski (born in December 1944) is a director. After completing secondary school in Gdańsk, he studied under Edward Csató at the Department of Polish Philology of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń (1962–1967) where he majored in Theatre Studies. After undertaking a master’s thesis on the Laboratory Theatre, he moved to Wrocław to see the company at work. Soon he was offered a permanent assignment with the Theatre and became its member in 1967. Teo Spychalski remained with the Laboratory Theatre for the next fourteen years, working in various roles over that time span. Initially, he helped the foreigners taking part in the Laboratory Theatre’s research to learn Polish and understand Polish culture. He assisted Grotowski in his sessions with trainee actors, and between 1966 and 1968 he attended most of the rehearsals for Apocalypsis cum figuris, sharing his comments with the director. In the post-theatre period, he conducted his own research. From January 1973 he led work at the Laboratory Theatre’s International Studio. He organized and led paratheatrical performance projects (which blurred the distinction between actors and audience), collaborating with many individuals, mostly foreigners. It was then that he established contacts with actors and directors in Quebec, including Gabriel Arcand. As a result, in 1977 he was invited to Canada by Montreal’s Le Groupe de la Veillée and Toronto’s Actors’ Lab. During this stay in Canada, he visited the Manitoulin Indians to study their dance. He also traveled across the continent, from one ocean to the other.

After returning to Poland, he worked with Jerzy Grotowski on his great project of the Theatre of Sources from 1977 to 1980, taking part in Grotowski’s expeditions ‒ to Haiti in July 1979 and to the Huichol in Mexico in the winter of 1980. In the second half of 1980, he and his family travelled to South America. As the political situation in Poland was complicated, he decided to stay on the other side of the Atlantic. In 1981, he worked with young people in Venezuela and in the United States: in New York and North Carolina. In the summer of 1981, he arrived in Canada. In Vancouver and Chartierville in the Eastern Townships, he conducted work sessions that incorporated a Theatre of Sources exercise called Mouvement-Vigil. After a brief spell in Venezuela, he returned to Montreal exactly when martial law was declared in Poland on 13 December 1981, and has stayed there ever since.

After joining the Groupe de la Veillée in 1982, Teo Spychalski became its general and artistic director. He had a decisive influence on the group’s artistic programme, its style and way of working, combining performances for the general public with research in the realms of dramaturgy, cultural inspirations and acting. As theatre director, he created the following performances with the Groupe de la Veillée: Till d'Espiègle, based on Vaslav Nijinsky’s diary (1982); The Idiot, based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel (1983); Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz’s W małym dworku (1985); Parade sauvage, a recital of sung poetry, in collaboration with Carmen Jolin (various versions between 1984 and 2003); Un bal nommé Balzac based on Honoré de Balzac’s The Skin of Sorrow (1986); Reiner Maria Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1988); Heinrich von Kleist’s Penthesilea with texts by Marina Tsvetaeva (1990); La geurre based on Céline’s Journeys to the End of the Night (1991); August Strindberg’s Creditors (1993); Tankred Dorst’s I, Feuerbach (1995); Hunger based on Knut Hamsun’s novel (1996); Demons based on Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel (1997‒1999); Per Olof Enquist’s The Night of the Tribades (2002); Dušan Kovačević’s The Professional (2005); Trans-Atlantyk based on the novel by Witold Gombrowicz (2004); Too Loud a Solitude based on Bohumil Hrabal’s prose (2007); Per Olof Enquist’s The Hour of the Lynx (2008); David Harrower’s Blackbird (2009). As general and artistic director, he also initiated and promoted projects by other artists (including Gregory Hlady, Oleg Kisseliov, Philippe Cyr). Teo Spychalski has run numerous workshops for professional and young actors from outside the Groupe de la Veillée.