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The Dynamics of Metamorphosis
Project led by Paweł Passini, Elżbieta Rojek, Przemysław Wasilkowski and the ensemble of neTTheatre (Teatr w Sieci Powiązań).

May 2012 – June 2014

The Dynamics of Metamorphosis is a performance research project that seeks to reconstruct the repertoire of ancient actor’s skills, particularly impersonation and transformation. In the light of our 10-year performance experience and from the perspective of working with source material, we see metamorphosis as a key concept for understanding the phenomenon of Greek theatre and its constitutive actor-chorus-spectator relationship.


Our research focuses on Euripides’ tragedies and the acting scores they contain. Analyzed in terms of the sequence in which characters enter the stage, they reveal a remarkable regularity, which we call the Three Actors Principle. The role of this principle in our perception and understanding of ancient theatre can be compared to the role of Newton’s dynamics
in classical mechanics. By applying it when working with source material,
and especially in performance practice, we discern an extremely intricate system of energy conservation and of keeping this energy in continuous circulation within the organism of a performance.
The perennial dilemma in staging ancient tragedies is the gap between the number of characters in a play and the number of actors. Many sources mention three actors – understood here as performers of solo parts from the script. But we know they share the stage with the chorus, and mime artists make an occasional appearance, too. The number of actors who are in dialogue with each other, however, is never more than three. Our research shows that all parts are divided among these three actors,
and their configuration and sequence form an energy ladder that the actor climbs. This construction allows performers to build their roles in the tension that emerges between characters, rather than based on their own personality or in opposition to it.
This model of theatre not only sheds new light on the essence of the function of actor and theatre in the Greek education system, but creates new, extremely interesting and effective staging and teaching tools, ready
to be used in twentieth-century theatre. Through in-depth practical examination of ‘energy flows’ from which Euripides builds character sequences enacted by each of the three actors, we can better understand the essence of the presence of mask in ancient theatre. From the perspective of the Three Actors Principle, the mask doesn’t seem to be
a thing that hides the ‘true face’ of the character or actor, but – quite the contrary – a part of the system of mirrors that reveal their common source – the ‘dynamic of metamorphosis’ governing the lives of both the characters of ancient tragedies and the performers who carry these characters on their shoulders.

The first stage of the “The Dynamics of Metamorphosis” project was the premiere of Paweł Passini’s original performance Ancient Tragedies, which took place on 11 May 2012 at the Bogusławski Theatre in Kalisz, opening Kalisz Theatre Meetings. The piece takes as its starting point three of Euripides’ tragedies. Passini, together with the actors of the Bogusławski Theatre and his collaborators Elżbieta Rojek, Katarzyna Tadeusz and Przemysław Wasilkowski, were conducting a series of rehearsals and workshops researching character representation in the ancient theatre.

“The Dynamics of Metamorphosis”, the project’s timeline

• 15–16 May 2012, “The Dynamics of Actor’s Metamorphoses. Antiquity” conference, Kalisz Theatre Meetings
• 22–30 May 2012, audition session
• 27 September – 6 October 2012, work session 1
• 11–19 December 2012, work session 2
• 31 January – 9 February 2013, work session 3
• 14–23 March 2013, work session 4
• 25 April – 4 May 2013, work session 5
• 20–29 June 2013, work session 6
• 26 September – 5 October 2013, work session 7
• 6–15 March 2014, work session 8
• 15 May – 8 June 2014, work session 9
• 7 June 2014, work demonstration
  The Dynamics of Metamorphosis: The Conclusion
• 8 June 2014, “The Dynamics of Metamorphosis: The Conclusion”
  conference, Grotowski Institute
• 12 January 2015: “The Dynamics of Metamorphosis”
   screening of a documentary

Paweł Passini
Elżbieta Rojek
Przemysław Wasilkowski

Robert M. Hayden
Tomasz Krzyżanowski
Maria Porzyc
Katarzyna Tadeusz

Igor Aronov, Valeria Cocco, Mohammad Faraji, Gabriel Guezal, Joanna Kaczmarek, Malwina Kajetańczyk, Katarzyna Kamecka, Jakub Kowalczyk, Joanna Kowalska, Ilona Krawczyk, Urszula Kszyszczuk, Beata Kucharska, Valerie McCann, Luis Garcia Munoz, Iryna Nirsha, Chavannes Peclat, Natalia Pieczuro, Natalia Wilk

RESEARCH TEAM: Katarzyna Huss, Monika Jangas, Aleksandra Konarska, Daria Kubisiak, Agnieszka Misiewicz, Magdalena Rewerenda, Agnieszka Szewczyk

the Grotowski Institute, Wojciech Bogusławski Theatre in Kalisz, neTTheatre, Arts Centre in Lublin, Artes Liberales Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies, and the Bliski Wschód Association of Artists.