Saturday, April 26, 2008

Great text as a scalpel

“All the great texts represent a sort of deep gulf for us. Take Hamlet: books without number have been devoted to this character. Professors will tell us, each for himself, that they have discovered an objective Hamlet. They suggest to us revolutionary Hamlets, rebel and impotent Hamlets, Hamlet the outsider, etc. But there is no objective Hamlet. The work is too great for that.

“The strength of great works really consists in their catalytic effect: they open doors for us, set in motion the machinery of our self-awareness. My encounter with the text resembles my encounter with the actor and his with me. For both director and actor, the author's text is a sort of scalpel enabling us to open ourselves, to transcend ourselves, to find what is hidden within us and to make the act of encountering the others; in other words, to transcend our solitude.

“In the theater, if you like, the text has the same function as the myth had for the poet of ancient times. The author of Prometheus found in the Prometheus myth both an act of defiance and a springboard, perhaps even the source of his own creation. But his Prometheus was the product of his personal experience. That is all one can say about it; the rest is of no importance.”

-- Jerzy Grotowski, from Towards a Poor Theater

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