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Grotowski Intensive: East meets West, Heart in the Centre / Full Program Description

Grotowski Intensive: East meets West, Heart in the Centre / Full Program Description


East meets West, Heart in the Centre

Linda Putnam, Stephen Wangh, Raïna von Waldenburg

Participation and workshops with:
David MacMurray Smith, Claire Fogal, Gabriella Minnes Brandes

Photo courtesy of Alexander Berg

August 2 to 10
Scotiabank Dance Centre
677 Davie Street, Vancouver

Tuition $1,000

Stephen Wangh and Linda Putnam are the two leading senior authorities in Grotowski-based physical acting training in North America. We will be exploring the heritage of this training and how it has expanded since the 60’s when Steve and Linda first encountered Jerzy Grotowski.

A unique gathering of Master Teachers in physical acting who share their deep understanding of how the relationship between body, heart and spirit are integral to performance. This ensemble-oriented intensive is taught collaboratively by teachers whose primary interest is in the creative process of each student.

Students literally bring all parts of themselves into the work, discovering impulses that are fully embodied and emotionally resonant. The faculty encourages each student to discover how to use their body as a source for creativity, helping each one to perceive her own habitual patterns, sense cycles of stimulus-response, and develop psycho-physical unity.


  • Les excercices Plastiques et Corporels
  • Image Rivers
  • Principles
  • Breath, Voice and Presence Work
  • Artist Source Work
  • Text Work


  • Alexander Technique
  • Bio-Kinetics
  • Essential Gestures


  • What is the work and why do it?
  • Advantages/dangers of practicing/teaching this work
  • Learning theory and the via negativa
  • Values of “falling” and “failing”
  • Acting, meditation, quantum physics
  • How to deal with judgment
  • Audience accessibility/inclusion
  • How to survive as an independent artist
  • Exploring the heritage of this training, how it has expanded in North America since the 60’s, and the benefits/challenges of documenting this oral tradition


  • Daily picnic with faculty
  • Evening seminars/group discussions with faculty
  • An evening event with Theatre Replacement
  • A full day of work in nature

DAILY SCHEDULE: 10am to 6pm


Stephen Wangh
Steve is an actor, playwright, author, director, and teacher of acting. After studying with Polish director Jerzy Grotowski in 1967, he acted with the New York Free Theater in New York, with Reality Theater and Present Stage in Massachusetts, and recently appeared in David Marek’s award-winning film, Somewhere West. For 20 years Steve taught acting at New York University where he is now Arts Professor Emeritus. He has also taught acting and pedagogy in the MFA Theater: Contemporary Performance program at Naropa University and at the Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore. Steve was Associate Writer for The Laramie Project (Emmy nomination 2002), and was one of the writers of The People’s Temple (Glickman award: Best play in the Bay Area, 2005). He was also dramaturge of Moisés Kaufman’s Gross Indecency, the three trials of Oscar Wilde. He is the author of 15 plays and of two books: An Acrobat of the Heart, a physical approach to acting inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowski (Vintage, Random House, 2000) and The Heart of Teaching: Empowering Students in the Performing Arts, (Routledge, 2012).

Linda Putnam
Linda is the founder and artistic director of Evergreen Theater and School. She has been a performing member of many theater companies, including New World Theater, Reality Theater, Theater Workshop Boston, Appleseed Traveling Circus, New York Free Theater, and Gut Theater of Harlem. She has been invited to perform in various festivals, and has received several awards for acting. She has authored two ensemble plays and three solo pieces. Her teaching career spans forty-seven years during which time, in addition to directing a full-time acting school, she has taught residencies at Baltimore Theater Project, Skidmore College, Naropa Institute, Smith College, Simon Fraser University, The Canadian National Voice Intensive, Women In View (Vancouver and Boston), and Mascall Dance Society, among others. She has taught workshops for a long list of theater and dance companies, and has acted as a performance coach for numerous individuals and companies. She received an MFA in Theater from New York University in 1968. She studied with Peter Kass, Lloyd Richards, Andre Gregory, Jerzy Grotowski, and Kristin Linklater, among others. Her teaching is a blend of physical acting techniques and traditional acting methodology.

Raïna von Waldenburg
Raïna has recently moved to Vancouver after being full-time faculty at New York University’s Experimental Theatre Wing where she taught a physical approach to acting based on the work of Jerzy Grotowski for the past 17 years. She currently teaches physical acting at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts and at the University of Fraser Valley’s Theatre Department. Raïna received her MFA in creative writing from Goddard College, and her BFA in acting from New York University where she trained under Stephen Wangh, and Ryszard Cieslak, Grotowski’s principal actor and protégée. Raïna served as research assistant and editor for Stephen Wangh’s book An Acrobat of the Heart: A physical approach to acting inspired by the work of Jerzy Grotowski. For the past 26 years Raïna has taught workshops in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Southeast Asia. In 2000 Raïna founded the Center for Embodied Performance where she teaches workshops in physical acting and embodied presence. She also offers physical acting training in collaboration with Gabriella Minnes Brandes and Stephen Atkins at Blue Egg Studios in Vancouver. The recipient of a Distracted Globe grant, Raïna produced her one-woman show, Oysters Orgasms Obituaries at La MaMa E.T.C. for which she received the 2012 Innovative Theatre Award nomination for “Outstanding Solo Performance”. Raïna has been performing at various venues in NYC for the past decade with innovative companies such as Witness Relocation and Actors Without Borders, and she has worked closely with director Zishan Ugurlu as principal actor in productions at La MaMa E.T.C. that include The Father, Request Programme, and The Last Supper, as well as Enescu and Youth (WFMT Live Radio Network/Romanian Culture Institute). She is also a published poet, visual artist and mother.
Center for Embodied Performance

David MacMurray Smith
David has performed professionally in the areas of Theater, Ballet, Opera, Mime, and Clown and has been teaching, creating, and directing for 33 years. He is a movement specialist and an experienced counselor whose special interest is in how memory moves and patterns itself through our bodies and how this affects our perceptions, behavior, and communication. In 1995 he founded Fantastic Space Enterprises where he offers a humanist approach to personal and professional development through creative studies in the psychology of human performance, primarily through the study of Clown. David studied Physical Training with Linda Putnam in his home state of Massachusetts and considers his ongoing relationship with it to be core in his approach to training. David was Associate Director and Head Instructor at the Vancouver Playhouse Theater School, Movement Director for the Music Theater and Opera Programs at the Banff Center for the Arts, and has taught at several universities. He presently is on Faculty in the Theatre Department at Douglas College, a Core Trainer with Full Circle First Nation’s Performance, and he is a founding faculty member and an instructor in a two-year Certificate program in Expressive Arts Therapy through Langara College Continuing Education.

Gabriella Minnes Brandes, Ph.D.
Gaby completed her Alexander Technique training in 1988 and is currently teaching the Alexander Technique both in the Theatre Department at Capilano University and at the Alexander Technique Centre. Gaby also teaches in the Young Artists Program at the Vancouver Opera, Opera Nuova in Edmonton, and at the Pender Island Flute Retreat. Gaby works extensively in collaboration with voice, movement and acting instructors, focusing on the application of the Alexander Technique, as performers are encouraged to explore, experiment with, and reflect on their habitual patterns, and seek effective and efficient ways of using themselves to enhance their training and performance. Much of Gaby’s current work and research focuses on exploring the connections between the Alexander Technique and creativity as it pertains to performers. Informed by her Ph.D. and research in education, she is also exploring the connections between current educational research and Alexander teacher training. Member of CANSTAT, STAT and AmSAT and co-director of the Vancouver School of the Alexander Technique teacher training program, Gaby has shared her work in many conferences and Alexander teacher training courses.

Claire Fogal
A Vancouver director, actor, and teacher, Claire holds a BA in Theatre and English Literature from UBC, an MFA in Directing from UofA, and is a graduate of Tooba Physical Theatre Centre where she became the Director of Educational Programming and lead Acting Teacher. Primary mentors are Kate Weiss and her father Dean Fogal. Claire has also studied with Linda Putnam, David MacMurray Smith, Raïna von Waldenburg, Richard Armstrong, Charles Marowitz, da da kamera, Foresight Theatre, Mascall Dance, the National Voice Intensive, Boca del Lupo, and Margie Gillis, and been commissioned by Edmonton’s Catalyst Theatre to create Sixth Sense. Claire is Artistic and Managing Director of Minotaur’s Kitchen, supported by Cor Departure Physical Theatre Society, which she co-founded in 2000. In September Claire will begin her PhD in Theatre at UBC, with a focus on documenting the ways in which Canadian Grotowski and Decroux-based artists and teachers have contributed to the evolution of theatre.


Although performance students of all levels and genres may apply, preference is given to those who are familiar with the Grotowski training. Acceptance to the workshop is based on the student’s application: letter of intent and artistic history, emailed to

If you require accommodation in Vancouver, please email Blue Egg for hotel recommendation.


To register you must submit a non-refundable deposit of $200 with your application. Payment methods available include Visa or Mastercard by phone, 604.569.0326 or electronic funds transfer to Alternatively, please call for a registration appointment. You will be notified regarding your acceptance within a week.

A maximum of 16 students will be accepted.



Payment plans available.
No scholarships.

Note: Daily picnic with faculty, please bring a lunch with you.

Questions: please contact Blue Egg 604.569.0326 or


We are grateful to our sponsors and supporters:

Immigration Consultation generously provided by

Mats generously provided by

Generous support from Human Theatre Performing Arts Society


The small print: This Intensive requires a non-refundable registration. No cancellations are accepted; this includes students using the payment plan. If a student is not accepted into the program, any funds paid or received, will be refunded. All courses and training programs require a minimum number of registrants in order to run. If the minimum is not reached by June 30th the program will be cancelled and any money paid will be fully returned. Thank you for your understanding.