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Polish theorist and practitioner Jerzy Grotowski (1933–1999) is today best known for his poor theatre form, The Laboratory Theatre and tiny Theatre of 13 Rows in regional Poland. But his poor theatre concept and practice was just one of many phases in a career spanning four decades. Much of Grotowski’s work with actors was never performed, and if it was, before modest-sized audiences. Poor theatre advocated the elimination of the excesses of theatre – no sets, few props, basic lighting and nondescript costumes. His was a holy and ritualistic theatre of reduction, where only the actor remained. – Justin Cash
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.
Antonin Artaud (1896-1948) was a French dramatist, poet, actor and theoretician who rejected Western theatre’s reliance on the spoken word, instead advocating an experimental theatre influenced by the East where ritualistic movement, stylised gestures and signals became paramount. Artaud’s physical theatre of cruelty was performed in non-traditional spaces with a weakened audience positioned at its centre. The spectator was assaulted with a total theatre experience involving shocking images, piercing sound and bright white lighting. Artaud was briefly a member of the surrealist movement. – Justin Cash
Video: Antonin Artaud and the Theater of Cruelty: Crash Course Theater
I don't mean it mean, but today we're going to be cruel. It's the fun-loving Theater of Cruelty, which was pioneered by the genius Antonin Artaud in France during the inter-war period in twentieth century. The Theater of Cruelty was meant to force an audience into looking at the ridiculous illusions of their bourgeois lives. Is it entertaining? Not always. Was it hugely influential? Absolutely.