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The Wroclaw Second Studio

In January 1984, in the newspaper Gazeta Robotnicza, a statement from the ensemble of the Laboratory Theatre was published regarding the institution’s dissolution, which was later reprinted in the journals Odra and Dialog.

The group’s decision was commented on extensively in the press. Tadeusz Burzynski wrote: 'The dissolution of the Laboratory Theatre should be of no surprise for astute observers… trying to stop a natural process would be an artificial operation'. Zdzislaw Smektala: 'I believe that the dissolution of the Laboratory Theatre was the right move, allowing us to hold both the institution and the people in high esteem'. Expressions of sorrow for the passing of the theatre blended with those expressing anxiety for the future of the place and of its documentation: 'The Laboratory Theatre should be rescued, reintroducing the pedagogical activities of these living people and their living method of theatre to the Polish theatrical reality. Suggesting that there is a certain responsibility for the part of the public and of the city should not appear naive here. This inopportune joke made by the company, a somewhat grim one, will obviously not amuse those who care about Polish theatre'. 'The small yet internationally renowned space of the Laboratory Theatre ought to be transformed into something that would resemble what Kantor received on Kanonicza Street in Krakow, which serves as a place to document Cricot-2… A trace of the Laboratory must remain in Wroclaw'. Also, Tadeusz Burzynski proposed creating 'the beginning of a museum' from the remaining archive materials.

By June, the documentation of the 25 years of the group’s activity was almost complete. The archive materials were to become part of the collection of The Ossolineum Library, as well as of the Provincial Archive. Responsibility for organising the legacy of the Laboratory Theatre fell with the State Archive in Wroclaw, which provided counsel and methodological advice.

On 28th June 1984 – at the initiative of Stanislaw Krotoski, director of the Department of Arts and Culture of the Municipal Council – a meeting was held to assess the ongoing cataloguing of materials. Among those who attended were associate professors Janusz Degler and Jozef Kelera, as well as Tadeusz Burzynski. The meeting resulted in a decision to put a request to the authorities to create a museum-archive institution on the site of the former Laboratory Theatre, retaining all of the documentation in one place.

Zbigniew Cynkutis, 1986. Phot. Marek GrotowskiEven before the public announcement of the Laboratory’s dissolution, director Krotoski opened a correspondence with Zbigniew Cynkutis, concerning filling the gap that followed the Laboratory Theatre’s passing with a new creative initiative. In a letter of 1983, he wrote: 'We believe that among the people related to the Laboratory Theatre, there should emerge some new idea; either a fresh one, or a continuation. I know that you have thought of realising your own artistic idea. We would be delighted to consider your propositions. Perhaps you are the one who, carrying out your own artistic ambitions, would retain the awareness of a sort of continuity, however, under a different brand. The material base is there; you can also count on my help, both in official matters, and as a private person. We want to give some new matter a chance'. Cynkutis was working at that time in the United States, as a visiting professor at Hamilton College, Clinton.

Cynkutis’s decision to take over the management of the theatre pleased the authorities. It was important that the theatre was to be established by one of Grotowski’s principal actors, and one who considered the preservation of the theatre’s legacy to be a fundamental task. On his return to Poland in August 1984, Cynkutis began to work towards the foundation of the new theatre.

In October, 'The programme of the Wroclaw Second Studio' was ready. It included the requirement for the proper preservation of the legacy of the Laboratory: 'Taking over the site of the Laboratory Theatre, the WSS undertakes to care for the remaining documentation and the items that have acquired historical value, such as: costumes, props, films, programmes, photographs. The WSS, with the professional help of specialists, will secure these remnants and appoint a historical-research department, whose work will aim to catalogue the existing documentation of the history of the Laboratory Theatre, and to make it available to all interested parties. The WSS will also appoint a Public Research Council, which will co-operate in the sorting of the remaining materials of the Laboratory Theatre and will seek the most appropriate way to transform this department of the WSS into an independent institution… The Research CCouncil will be obliged to look after the collected documentation, ensuring that none of its parts is destroyed, lost, or deformed. This will apply to any document, item, note, or recording made before 31st Augus,t 1984'. By November, the WSS appointed 'a company archive, functioning as a historical-research department', responsible directly to the general manager. A separate room was earmarked for the activity of the archive, and two people were hired to conduct it – Iwona Zietkowska and Henryk Koczan. The opening of a permanent historical-research exhibition, devoted to the hritage of the Laboratory Theatre, was planned for March 1986.