Jerzy Grotowsky and Tadeusz Kantor were influential in avant-garde theater in the West in the 1960s and 1970s, receiving high critical regard despite the fact that audiences could not understand the Polish language of the performances. In The Post-Traumatic Theatre of Grotowski and Kantor: History and Holocaust in 'Akropolis' and 'Dead Class'
(Anthem Press, 2014), Magda Romanska
bridges the disciplinary divides between theater studies and Slavic studies, between the history of Poland in the twentieth century and the history of avant-garde theatre, to place these works in a Polish and international context.
Romanska asserts that critics and audiences in West, while appreciating the theater productions of Grotowski's Akropolis
and Kantor's Dead Class
, missed the "obscure, difficult, multi-layered, funny-sounding Polish glory, with all of the complex and convoluted contextual and textual details" of these works. She traces the Polish cultural and literary roots and the Jewish history and culture on which Kantor and Grotowsky drew. She also reveals how Polish audiences would have understood words, images and actions in these productions differently than audiences in the United States, France or Germany. In doing so, The Post-Traumatic Theatre of Grotowski and Kantor
contributes to a deeper understanding of post-war Poland, its troubled engagement with the Holocaust and treatment of Polish Jewish citizens, and its interaction with the West.