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Plastiques Project


Check out the

Beijing, China


Summer 2019

MOvement and TExt



What is Plastiques?

Developed by visionary director Jerzy Grotowski, plastiques is a system of work that isolates each body part and breaks it down into a specific range of movements called “details." The head can be moved in only nine different directions or "details," the shoulder six, the chest five, and so on. These details become the physical vocabulary actors use to "converse" with each other. The rhythm and intensity of their movements create a physical conversation which is influenced by the flow of their desires, emotions, and the interpersonal energy they create in the moment. The goal of the work is to help actors act and react purely from their physical impulses, not their analytical mind. 

The voice that eventually emerges from this process leads to authentic, uninhibited performances of text.

What is Plastiques?

"This workshop was a shifting experience for me as an actor and a human."

- Student

Jerzy Grotowski believed we have two bodies. The first is the conscious body that we walk around in every day and has been taught  to behave appropriately according to social norms. The second is the unconscious body where our true impulses and creativity live and where our inhibitions are released.

Creating a relationship to the impulsive body and the voice within that body is the focus

of our workshops.

Read more

Finding a way to act, react, and speak from your authentic,  uninhibited  impulses, not your analytical mind.

That's what this work is about.

The Instructor
Bio Plastiques 2.jpg
Bio Plastiques 2.jpg
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The Instructor

For three years David Prete studied under long-time friend and collaborator of Grotowski's, Andre Gregory (My Dinner With Andre, Vanya On 42nd Street). Mr. Gregory passed the plastiques onto a group of actors in New York. The group also worked for another two years with Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ayad Akhtar, who worked with Grotowski in Poland. Prete has taught plastiques workshops privately and at American universities such as, Northwestern, DePaul, Point Park and otherns. Prete has taught in elementary and high schools, correctional facilities, and in private workshops through the country.

Prete is an actor, director and writer who teaches in ISU's Department of Theater and Dance. Originally from New York City, he holds an M.F.A. in Directing from Northwestern University. He graduated from        The New Actor's Workshop conservatory, where he studied with Mike Nichols (The Graduate, Angels in America), Second City co-founder, Paul Sills, George Morrison                   who also taught Dustin Hoffman, Edie Falco, and Gene Hackman. Prete also studied theatrical  mask                     with  Paola  Coletto, one of only 40 students who have ever been certified as a pedagogical specialist                   under the direction  of Jacques  Lecoq himself. As co-founder of NYC's Water Theater Company, Prete                    worked as an actor and producer, He has acted Off-Broadway, in Los Angeles, Chicago, and many                          regional theaters in America. He has been in films screened at film festivals in Santa Barbara, Long               Island and New York. Prete served as Drama Coach for Yaa Samar! Dance Theatre, that performs                    in  Palestine and the US.  W.W. Norton published two of his critically-acclaimed novels, Say That To My Face (2003) and August and Then  Some (2011), which was a Chicago Tribune Editor's Pick.
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(That's him.)

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The Workshops

 Plastiques Part 1: In this workshop,  participants are introduced to the essential movements of plastiques and how to interact within the parameters of these "details." They create a physical, non-verbal dialogue with their own bodies and between one other. Actors work as a group, in pairs, and individually. This workshop is offered to professionals, students, or theater companies, who are looking for new perspectives on their craft, as well as ways to strengthen their personal training and/or ensemble dynamic. The text of monologues is incorporated into this workshop. (No prerequisite.)


Plastiques Part 2: Building on the essential skills learned in Part 1, participants will use plastiques in pairs and groups. The text of scenes is  incorporated into this workshop. (Prerequisite: Part 1)

Character Development through Plastiques: This workshop is a unique way to create characters. Combining plastiques  and other physical methods, participants will learn tools to analyze, experiment, and create specific characters, fully bringing themselves, their imaginations, and creativity to the work. (Prerequisite: Part 1)

Pedagogy of Plastiques (For Educators): This workshop offers educators an in-depth look at this movement technique and an experiential understanding of its transformative power that can be passed along to students. This training is suitable for educators already working with actors, as well as those who are interested in adding this unique technique to their curriculum. The intention is to provide educators with new technical tools and perspectives that will add to their existing pedagogical methods.  (No prerequisite.)


"This workshop reinforced the notion that an actor's greatest resource is what they find inside themselves."



Plastiques Part 1

Click here for the next workshop offering...


The Project

(AkA: Intention behind the work.)


We leave room for the unconscious to come out and play.

During our time  in the room together, we...

Work from where we happen to be at any given moment—not where we think to should be or wish we were.

                  allow ourselves see whatever we're engaged with in the moment as the only work we have in the world. (Which is a good way to turn our brains off and let our bodies take over.)


We always start with a solid technical foundation. We work within the parameters of that technique, and in doing so we are also allowing room for our unconscious to be activated, we are allowing room for the thing that exists outside of the realm of language, the inexplicable thing that can create theater that is dangerous and fully captivating for the performer and the observer. 


We take a holistic approach,  striving to integrate all we are into the work, and not leave out or devalue any part of our selves.

- Student


"Continuing to work past the point of physical exhaustion my mind and body became completely free of inhibitions."

- Student

We definitely push ourselves...

"It demands authenticity and requires you to use exactly what is available inside you at every given moment."

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Jerzy Grotowski

1933: Born August 11 in Rzeszów, Poland.

1955: —Attends Lunacharsky Institute of Arts, Moscow

to studies theatre. 

1958: Directs

first play,

Gods of Rain.

Becomes Director of ‘Theatre

of 13 Rows’ in Opole, Poland.

1965: Moves his company to Wroclaw, Poland and renames them Teatr Laboratorium.

1968: Publishes his book Towards a Poor Theatre.

 1981: December 13, The People’s Republic of Poland declares martial law to suppress all political opposition.

1982: Seeks asylum in America. Begins to teach at Columbia University. (Later he would go

on  to teach at UC Irvine.)

1986: Moves to Pontedera, Italy and founds his Italian Workcenter

Poor Theatre?

with Thomas Richards. Grotowski eventually passes his lifelong research onto Richards.

1999: January 14,

Grotowski dies in

Pontedera, Italy.

                                                The Poor Theatre Grotowski wrote of is

                               based on an idea of eliminating everything that is not essential: No lighting effects, just lights that are necessary to see properly, no music played by an orchestra or a recording, no mechanical scenery or decorations. Why get rid of all the external elements of a play? The intention was to create a more authentic kind of theater that puts the actor at the forefront.

The actor’s movements change the way the space is lit.  A different kind of lighting effect results via the actor. His action, his activity, if it is authentic, has a kind of luminosity, a light which is  more powerful than an external light.


The authenticity Growtowski describes comes from an actor's impulses, that which gives rise to all physical actions and vocal expressions.  At its core, plastiques is a search for this kind of impulsive acting.

Next Workshop

Plastiques in Beijing

David Prete taught a six-day plastiques intensive for the Changxingyangxu Cultural Media Studio in Beijing's

798 Art District.

June  2019

Here's some pix and things



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The End

See you soon...

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