Zavadsky Yuri Alexandrovich

(1894–1977), Russian director and actor. Between 1915 and 1924 he worked at Yevgeny B. Vakhtangov’s Studio (where he appeared in roles including Calaf in a legendary version of Carlo Gozzi’s Princess Turandot, 1922). Following this, until 1931, he was an actor under Konstantin Stanislavsky at the Moscow Art Theatre (with roles including Chatsky in Alexander Griboyedov’s Woe from Wit, 1925), while also running his own studio (founded in 1924, functioning until 1936) where he presented plays in a style resembling Vakhtangov’s (Alexander Ostrovsky’s Wolves and Lambs, 1934). Between 1932 and 1935 he was director of the Central Theatre of the Red Army. In 1936, together with some of its alumni, he was transferred on the authorities’ orders to a theatre in Rostov-on-Don. He returned to Moscow in 1940 having been appointed chief director at the Mossoviet Theatre (with works staged including Carlo Goldoni’s Mirandolina, 1940; Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, 1948; Mikhail Lermontov’s Masquerade, 1963; and an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, 1969). From 1940 he was also a lecturer in directing at the State Institute for Theatre Arts (GITIS) in Moscow, which is where Grotowski encountered him. Despite their relatively short period of collaboration, lasting barely several months, Grotowski considered Zavadsky one of his masters, not only for the reason that he represented the great, yet at that time still hidden, tradition of twentieth-century Russian theatre, but also, and perhaps even above all, because – as Grotowski recalled – it was indeed Zavadsky who gave him a lesson in political ethics. According to oft-repeated stories, Zavadsky, who lived in what can be considered luxury conditions for Russia at that time, since he was permitted to keep his passport at home and had access to a chauffeur-driven car, showed all this to Grotowski only to shatter the apparent glory of all of this ‘booty’ by uttering the words: ‘Remember, Jerzy, it’s not worth it’. Grotowski also had Zavadsky to thank for enabling him to travel to Baýramaly at the edge of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan.


Korespondencja Emilii i Jerzego Grotowskich z Jurijem Zawadskim, 1955–56, [w:] Zbigniew Osiński: Grotowski. Źródła, inspiracje, konteksty, t. 2: Prace z lat 1999–2009, Gdańsk 2009, s. 53–67.

Zbigniew Osiński, Grotowskiego doświadczenie Rosji. Rekonesans, [w:] tegoż: Grotowski. Źródła, inspiracje, konteksty, t. 2: Prace z lat 1999–2009, Gdańsk 2009, s. 7–34.