25. October 2020

Ludwik Flaszen: Farewell to a Totem

Ludwik Flaszen, one of the founders of theatre awareness in our times, died in Paris yesterday, Saturday 24 October 2020.

In 1959, this courageous and renowned critic was nominated literary director of the small provincial Teatr 13 Rzedów in Opole, Poland. He chose as artistic partner an unknown 26 year-old director who had not yet finished theatre school: Jerzy Grotowski. Together, in a few years, they changed the essence of theatre through their practice and writing.

Ludwik Flaszen believed in a “theatrical” theatre and was the first to write about a “poor theatre” in reference to Grotowski’s performance Akropolis. Most of all he was a free, defiant spirit. Grotowski liked to call him his “devil’s advocate”. When Grotowski left Poland in 1981, Ludwik continued the activity of the theatre in Wroclaw until its closure in 1984. Then, he moved to Paris, continuing to collaborate with the Grotowski Institute in Wroclaw at regular intervals.

Ludwik has been a mentor and a guide for many actors and directors in many parts of the world. Until recently, in the encounters with younger generations, he was a captivating speaker, stimulating curiosity and questions. For me, who met him daily from 1961 to 1964 and often until a few months ago, he was more than an inspiration. I called him “rabbi”, the wise one who knows the worth of Word and Action.

Now Ludwik is together with his accomplice Jerzy. Both continue to live in my heart.

Eugenio Barba

Photo: Odin Teatret Archives – Ludwik Flaszen and Eugenio Barba during the tour of the Odin Teatret ensemble performance The Tree on the occasion of Wroclaw being the European Capital of Culture, October 2016. (Photographer unknown.)

Photo top and in Newslist: Odin Teatret Archives – Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium at Odin Teatret, 1971 – Photographer: Marianne Ahrne