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Akropolis: Toward a Poor Video, or can YouTube be more?

Looking at a film like “Atonement” with very rich production values brings to mind the work of avant-garde theater director Jerzy Grotowski. His work was the opposite. He developed a concept and a practice called the “Poor Theater.” It’s principles are:

  • Eliminate, not teach something (Via Negativa).
    • This can be described as a basic philosophy for actor training that essentially says the actor’s main task involves not accruing skills so much as eradicating obstacles that get in the way of being true.
  • Enhance that which already exists.
  • Create all that is needed for the play in the actor’s body, with little use of props.
  • Promote rigorous physical and vocal training of actors
  • Avoid the beautiful if it does not foster truth

While it’s true that the cost of video production has plummeted, the cost of putting something truly interesting in front of a camera remains the same. For Grotowski there was a physical cost, a spiritual cost and the high price of artistic discipline. Although perhaps it’s as David Lynch has recently described it, “you think you’ve had an experience watching a movie on a telephone, but you haven’t. It’s such a sadness”Could YouTube live and thrive in the ceremony of the theater? Is there a context where YouTube could be more than a viral joke? The content is already there, but when we view it, do we really see it?

Published in culture performance risk theater