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Poor Theater and Theater of the Oppressed were two sort of concurrent movements that shared some of the same aims. Jerzy Grotowski's Poor Theater eschewed the use of lighting, props, costumes, makeup, and many of the other trappings of "rich" theater. Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed in Brazil challenged the ideas of how plays were written and performed, and blurred the lines between actors and audiences.

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 Introduction (00:00) to (00:46)

Hey I'm Mike Rugnetta, this is Crash Course Theater, and today we're looking at two very different models of radical, transformative theater. First, we'll head to Poland for Jerzy Grotowski's Poor Theater. Then, we'll zoom over to Brazil for Augusto Boal's The Theater of the Oppressed. 

These are pretty different movements: one is mostly concerned with personal discovery and the other is about creating broader social change. But both of them do away with theatrical conventions like costumes and scenery.

They're even kind of meh on props. 
Eh, yeah but I mean you're like more of a co-star so I think it's alright.

And both try to break down barriers between actors and audiences, remaking the theater as a space to create real, lasting change. 

So, let's rise up!


 Grotowski History (00:54) to (02:02)

(00:54)Poor Theater was started by this guy -- Jerzy Grotowski. He was born in Poland in 1933 and later educated in Moscow at the Russian Academy of Theater Arts. In 1959, he settled in Opole in Poland and began to work with a group of artists who would form the Polish Laboratory Theater. In the early 1980s, he left Poland, moving first to America, where he taught at several universities and then, to Italy.

(01:18)Like Stanislavski, who was both a big influence and a big rival, Grotowski was a charismatic figure who tried to create a new style of acting. While Stanislavski's style is based in psychological realism, Grotowski moved away from realism and toward something more ritualistic and elemental.

(01:36)Grotowski's theater had two main phases. Poor Theater was First. The other, which he developed after 1970, is called The Theater of Sources. 

(01:46)We'll mostly focus on Poor Theater, because it was the more influential of the two and because Grotowski compiled a very handy book about it, "Towards a Poor Theater," published in 1968 that was widely influential. If you have any interest in avant-garde theater, it's definitely worth a read. 

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