Clandestine Independent Theatre

During Word War II, Tadeusz Kantor founded the Clandestine Independent Theatre in Cracow, where he worked on the productions of “Balladyna” by Juliusz Słowacki (1943) and “The Return of Odysseus” (1944) by Stanisław Wyspiański. The performances were repeated several times in private flats, and among the actors were the artist’s friends, painters and art critics.


“The Return of Odysseus” was the staring point in the development of the main ideas underlying Tadeusz Kantor’s drama and art:
– the idea of the reality of the lowest rank (lost property, poor, ready-made objects, transferred from reality to the world of art),
– continual allusions to death, which for the artist became the embodiment of human fate,
– the idea that space for drama could be found outside the traditional building associated with the theatre.


The following section contains the most important theoretical text by Tadeusz Kantor, which concerns this period: The Autonomous Theatre. Theoretical Essays. The cast for the performances has been listed on the basis of the photographs taken in the Clandestine Independent Theatre with Tadeusz Kantor’s inscriptions.



Section prepared by: Anna Halczak


Section translated by: Monika Markiewicz

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