Little Dorrit as ‘Poor Theatre’: Dickens through Grotowski

  • John J. Glavin

Abstract

During the autumn of 1985 I adapted Dickens’s novel Little Dorrit for the stage according to the principles of the ‘Poor Theatre’ created by the great contemporary Polish director, Jerzy Grotowski.1 A little while before we opened our adaptation, I asked the cast if they thought, as I had begun to fear, that the audience might have trouble following our adaptation. ‘Only,’ one of them cheerfully answered, ‘only if they’ve read the novel.’ Readers of Dickens’s great novel may indeed feel some bewilderment, and even animosity, as I outline what we did to Dickens’s text, and why. The novel’s multiple plots we diminished to one story, Arthur Clennam’s. We reduced the novelist’s massive cast to eleven characters, performed by eleven actors and a broom. The broom was Little Dorrit herself, an idea adapted from Grotowski’s staging of the story of Jacob and Rachel in his play Akropolis. All of the speeches did come from Dickens’s text but the speeches were not often given in the play by those who had said them in the novel.

Keywords

Crystallization Manifold Cage Ghost Lost 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 2.
    Zbigniew Osínski, Grotowski and His Laboratory, Lillian Vallee and Robert Findlay (trs) (New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1985).Google Scholar
  2. Timothy J. Wiles offers a brilliant analysis of Grotowski and his place in the development of western theatre in The Theatre Event (University of Chicago Press, 1980).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jerzy Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1968).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Christopher Innes, The Holy Theatre: Ritual and the Avant Garde (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1981) p. 164.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Raymonde Temkine, Grotowski, Alex Szogyi (trs.) (New York: Avon Books, 1972) p. 71.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Jerzy Grotowski, ‘Doctor Faustus in Poland’, TDR, vol.8 (1964) p. 121.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Edgar Johnson, Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph (New York: Viking, 1977) p. 33.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    Leonardo Boff, Saint Francis, John M. Diercksmeier (trs.) (New York: Crossroad, 1982) p.1.Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Stefan Brecht, Peter L. Feldman, Donald M. Kaplan, Jan Kott, Charles Ludlam and Donald Richie, ‘On Grotowski: A Series of Critiques’, TDR, vol. 14 (1970) p. 189.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Carol Hanbery MacKay 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John J. Glavin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations