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The Grotowski Institute
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City of Wroclaw

Wroclaw European Capital of Culture 2016

the Ministry of Science and Higher Education
Eugenio Barba

Eugenio BarbaBarba was born in 1936 in Brindisi, Southern Italy. He formed a Scandinavian laboratory theatre called Odin Teatret/Nordic Teatrlaboratorium (1964), which still works in Holstebro, Denmark; and he founded the International School of Theatre Anthropology (ISTA) in 1979.

In 1954, Barba emigrated to Norway, where he worked as a welder and sailor. He came to Poland in 1961 after receiving a UNESCO scholarship to study at the state theatre school PWST in Warsaw. Between 1962 and 1964, he worked with the Laboratory Theatre, assisting Grotowski during his work on Akropolis after Stanislaw Wyspianski and Dr. Faustus after Christopher Marlowe. Based on these experiences, he wrote his first book dedicated to Jerzy Grotowski’s theatre  – Alla ricerca del teatro perduto (In Search of a Lost Theatre, Padwa 1965).

Barba has directed sixty-five performances with Odin Teatret (and with the Theatrum Mundi Ensamble), some of which are: My Father’s House (1972), Come! And the Day Will be Ours (1976), Brecht’s Ashes (1980), The Gospel According to Oxyrhincus (1985), Talabot (1988), Kaosmos (1993), Mythos (1998), Andersen's Dream (2005), Ur-Hamlet (2006). Odin presented these performances in Poland—on many occasions in Wroclaw (at the Grotowski Centre’s invitation), Warsaw, and Torun.

The first ISTA session took place in Bonn in 1980. The most recent one was organized in collaboration with the Grotowski Centre and took place in Krzyzowa and Wroclaw in April 2005. “ISTA,” says Barba in his essay Eurasian Theatre or a chance, published in his book
Theatre. Solitude, Craft, Revolt [published by Lluís Masgrau; Polish edition Teatr. Samotnosc, rzemioslo, bunt, translated by Grzegorz Godlewski, Iwona Kurz, Malgorzata Litwinowicz-Drozdziel, edited by Grzegorz Godlewski, Leszek Kolankiewicz, Institute of Polish Culture UW, Warsaw 2003], “allows me to gather theatre masters from the West and Asia, compare extremely diverse work methods and reach for the common ground of technique – common for the work of West and East, common for “laboratory” and traditional theatre, mime, ballet or contemporary dance. This common ground is the domain of pre-expressive activity. Actors focus their energies into non-daily behaviour at this level, and, as a result, shape their “attitude” towards the spectator. Pre-expressive level is based everywhere on similar rules, even if they serve extremely different ways of expression which distinguish particular traditions and actors.”

Barba has received 8 honorary doctorates for his artistic and scientific work from various universities, including:
Århus (Denmark), Ayacucho (Peru), Bologna (Italy), Havana (Cuba) and Warsaw (2003). He is on the editorial boards of journals such as: TDR: The Journal of Performance Studies, New Theatre Quarterly, Performance Research, and Teatro e Storia. He has published many books, of which the following were translated into Polish: Land of Ashes and Diamonds. My Apprenticeship in Poland (the Grotowski Centre 2001), memoirs: Theatre. Solitude; Craft; Revolt; in collaboration with Nicola Savarese The Secret Art of the Performer; A Dictionary of Theatre Anthropology (the Grotowski Centre 2005); and The Paper Canoe: A Guide to Theatre Anthropology (the Grotowski Institute 2007).

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