Centre for Theatre Practices GARDZIENICE has an authorial character.
Founded in 1977 by Włodzimierz Staniewski, on the eastern side of Poland, just off the Iron Curtain, it became known to the world thanks to its performances and rigorous theatrical practices. Staniewski was looking for a nursery, forgotten by God and history, isolated from the rest of the world, "where the devil says goodnight", where nothing comes in and where nothing comes out. He chose the village of Gardzienice.
This was - at that time - not just an act of desperation but also a risk of civil suicide. Great perspectives given to Staniewski by his theatrical patrons and Krakow - Wroclaw cultural community, were cut. Soon people began to talk about GARDZIENICE. And Staniewski drew young people from all places.
He offered them backbreaking work in rat-ridden granary (legendary post-Arian chapel size 5 x 7 m), a flat between the barn and pigsties and wandering around sunken villages (famous art-research expeditions ) to "fraternize with the people ," as the co-called “artistic society” used to ridicule.
The GARDZIENICE company has become well known for its rigorous investigation of indigenous and ancient musical traditions, its powerful physical and vocal techniques, its commitment to the creation of theatre in a natural environment, and its emphasis on principles of mutuality and musicality in training.
Alison Hodge, 'Twentieth Century Actor Training', Routledge 1999
The theatrical doctrine of Staniewski, called "the ecology of the theater" is mentioned today as one of the most important.Many artists and theater groups in the country and abroad draw heavily on exploration and achievements of GARDZIENICE Theatre (Tadeusz Kornaś - Staniewski and Centre for GARDZIENICE Theatre Practices, Homini).Another constellations of people whom Staniewski gathered around him were - always – an international varieté. Exploration of antiquity and turning to literary, musical and mythological threads of antiquity allowed to communicate overcultural and stereotypical divisions.
The achievements of GARDZIENICE come as a wonderful gift... Under the inspired leadership of Włodzimierz Staniewski, the Gardzienice group are, in my view, one of few essential theatre companies working anywhere in the world today.
Today, one can venture to say that a phenomenon called GARDZIENICE was one of the vanguard of the changes that have taken place in Poland after '89 .
Dozens of artists and cultural life organizers from Poland and the world worked for the past 35 years in the Centre for Theatre Practices GARDZIENICE. Their long-term contributions to the mission and traces of their creative presence are established in the literature and in the annals describing the battles and subsequent stages of evolution of the theater. The two of them deserve special recognition. They are Mariusz Gołaj and Tomasz Rodowicz.
September 2013 saw the opening of a new theater complex in Gardzienice. Driven to complete destruction by successive owners (within sixty years after the war) - architectural complex of palace and park is now risen from the ruins and ashes and miraculously reanimated.
Staniewski is the initiator of this project, the author of the concept, fundraiser and executor of implementation - to the smallest detail. He calls this the most important directorial project, his opus magnum.