Harvard CAMLab

Grotowski on the Great Wall of China (Left: Lu Yi, Right: Grotowski).
1962. Photography. Private archives of Kazimierz Grotowski.

Between August 17 and September 9, 1962, Grotowski spent three weeks traveling in China as an official delegate of the Polish Ministry of Culture and Arts’ working group on theatre matters. The visit was made upon his own request and supported by the Polish-Chinese cultural cooperation agreement, signed in 1951.

Grotowski reported that his application faced “virtually no competition,” because his colleagues were more interested in traveling to Western Europe and the United States. Uniquely, Grotowski had a prolonged fascination with the oriental theatre and philosophy. Earlier in 1956, Grotowski earned a fellowship to travel widely in Central Asia. Between December 1957 and June 1958, he also organized a student club and led weekly lecture on oriental philosophy.

While in China, Grotowski was companied by Secretary Lu Yi from the China Theater Association and visited Beijing, Nanjing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou. He met contemporary Chinese theatre artists at local theatres and theatre schools (e.g. China National Peking Opera Company, School of Chinese Theatre Arts, and School of Shanghai Yue Opera Group), and took notes on the history of theater in China, performances, actors, acting techniques, and exercises.

Meanwhile, Grotowski visited local attractions such as the Great Wall in Beijing, Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum and the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, and the Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou.

“Bolan Xijujia Yeri Geluotuofusiju Fanghua波兰戏剧家耶日·格罗托夫斯基访华” [The Polish Dramatist Jerzy Grotowski Visited China], Xiju Bao 戏剧报, no. 09 (1962): 34.
Zbigniew Osiński, Jerzy Grotowski’s Journeys to the East, trans. Andrej Wojtasik and Kris Salata (Holstebro: Icarus; Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2014).
Jennifer Kumiega, The Theatre of Grotowski (London; New York: Methuen, 1985), p. 6.
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