Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale (IPSY) presents


February 20 – March 3, 2013

 This February, IPSY brings to New Haven the Open Program of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards for a series of lively and wide-ranging events.  The program will feature performances, public meetings and a symposium exploring the poetics of encounter.  IPSY is partnering with the Eli Whitney Museum, InterCambio, Sound Hall, the People’s Arts Collective of New Haven, as well as local artists and activists, to create dialogue and exchange between diverse New Haven communities.

Open Program is directed by Mario Biagini, Associate Director of the Workcenter and longtime Grotowski collaborator.  Through performance, members of the Open Program —10 actors from around the world— investigate the moment of meaningful contact between individuals and the poetic word as a tool for human contact and action.  Currently, their performances take as their source material the complexity and richness of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry as well as traditional African American songs and shouts from the Southern United States to highlight the distinct relation between song and the poetic word.

February 22 & 23, 2013 – 8:00 PM

ELECTRIC PARTY SONGS  (Cabaret-style performance)

Calhoun Cabaret, 189 Elm Street, New Haven, CT 06511


February 28 & March 1, 2013 – 8:00 PM

I AM AMERICA (Performance) – with set built by children at the Eli Whitney Museum

Whitney Theater, 53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511

March 2, 2013  –  11 AM – 4 PM


Whitney Theater, 53 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511

March 3, 2013  –  4 PM

ELECTRIC PARTY SONGS (An experiment in the potentialities of a party as an art form)

BAR, 254 Crown Street, New Haven, CT 06511                   Special guest DJ:  Dave Coon

Events are free and open to the public.  Seating is limited.  RSVP here.

ELECTRIC PARTY SONGS, created by the Workcenter’s Open Program under the direction of Mario Biagini, is a flow of songs and actions based on the poetry Allen Ginsberg.  Members of this international group elaborated and composed all of the songs, approaching the meanings, rhythms and sounds of the spoken texts as the seeds of musical and dramatic creation. Their varied backgrounds generate a stylistically diverse body of music, drawing inspiration from blues, rock, pop, punk and traditional sources. The team weaves into Electric Party Songs its investigation of traditional songs from the Southern United States.

I AM AMERICA brings the poetry of Allen Ginsberg to life in a performance with language culled from Ginsberg’s poetry as well as calls, shouts and traditional songs from the U.S. South.  Original compositions by members of the Workcenter’s Open Program, developed in intensive collaboration over a period of three years, are placed in dialogue with these sources. The performance unfolds around fragments of Ginsberg’s poem America.

Grotowski + Performance Research is a yearlong program pivoting around the work of Jerzy Grotowski, one of the most influential theatre directors of the 20th century.  The program is presented by Interdisciplinary Performance Studies at Yale (IPSY) and the Theatre Studies program at Yale University. The events are part of the Poland-U.S. Campus Arts Project, a program of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and supported by the Polish Cultural Institute New York.


Grotowski and the Workcenter Course

Theater Studies | Fall 2012/Spring 2013 | THST424/THST425

This yearlong course offers students a unique opportunity to gain historical, theoretical and practical insight into the work of Jerzy Grotowski, one of the most important and influential theatre directors of the 20th century. The fall semester will be devoted to a substantial historical and theoretical examination of Grotowski’s work.  In addition to an in-depth study of key texts, students will have an opportunity to see rare archival film documentation from various phases of Grotowski’s research.

The spring semester will function as a laboratory of performance research in which students will conduct practical research examining several lines of inquiry, such as embodied memory and its transmission, vigilance, and Grotowski’s notion of verticality – among others.  This investigation will integrate theoretical discussions and embodied research. Under the direction of Thomas Richards and Mario Biagini, Grotowski’s designated heirs, students will work on ancient African and Afro-Haitian songs of tradition and elements of the physical training developed at the Workcenter over the past twenty-five years.  While a research agenda will hold primacy in this course, students will also learn essential elements of the acting craft such as: the relation of precision to ogranicity; body resonators and spatial resonance; awareness of space; resonance of the voice; improvisation within a structure; and developing precise vocal and physical performance scores.

The spring semester will be structured around the residency of the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards at Yale University.  Students will be exposed to the current practical work of both Workcenter performance teams.  The lab component of the course will also include five different Workcenter performances, public meetings, symposia, film screenings and work demonstrations.

Jerzy Grotowski revolutionized the way in which Western theatre practitioners conceive of the audience-actor relationship, theatre staging and the craft of acting.  Perhaps best known for his notion of ‘poor theatre,’ Grotowski’s practice extends beyond the confines of conventional theatre assuming a long-term and systematic exploration of the possibilities of the human being in a performative context.  In practical terms, Grotowski’s work explores the ways in which specific performative techniques unlock forgotten potentialities in the human being.  This course will undertake an in-depth exploration and analysis of Grotowski’s work and particularly its last phases, which draw most significantly on the traditional songs and ritual movement of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora, and examine the ways in which these performative techniques are deployed as tools in the work on oneself.

Using Grotowski’s performance research and practice as an aperture, students will also investigate diverse textual material from the Christian Gnostic tradition, such as the Gospel of Thomas and “The Hymn of the Pearl,” a poem from the Gnostic Acts of Thomas; the work of 17th Century German mystic Johann Georg Gichtel; the tradition of Kabala; G.I. Gurdjieff; Allen Ginsberg; and the writings of Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz.  Drawing on source materials from ethnomusicology, anthropology, religious and performance studies, students will explore transnational performative practices including Haitian songs and ritual movements, such as the yanvalou; Hindu practices associated with the concept of chakras; and Slavic practices of vigilance.  The course will consider the commonalities and divergences of these diverse texts and embodied practices, propelled forward by an active questioning of the ways in which these textual materials and traditional praxes can be relevant for the individual today.

Meeting days and times:

THST 424 Fall 2012 – Fridays, 1:30-3:20 PM

THST 425 Spring 2013 – Fridays, 12:00-3:00 PM

Students will have additional lab hours during the Workcenter Yale Residency (February and March of 2013).

Course limited to 12 students.

Admission via interview/audition.  Acting experience not required.  Please contact instructor for more information about admission to the course: