The two texts published ( here
above - Ed. ) are short excerpts from two different lectures held in 1978.
The first took place in Warsaw (at a conference for the International Festival of Theatre) and the second in New York City (a lecture I gave at the Performance Garage organized by New York University).
The excerpts of these two texts were chosen and translated by Jacques Chwat; he asked me a long-time ago to authorize the publishing of them in The ACT.
(They were not originally destined to appear in this issue on The Body.) I asked him why he chose these fragments especially.
He answered: It might seem strange but I think they're important for stage directors.
"Important for stage directors" : Jacques Chwat approached his profession, his craft, with seriousness and integrity. Almost striking was the modesty when he formulated artistic objectives and the constancy when he struggled to accomplish them. His professional code can be put in a few short sentences: work in a solid manner, not for yourself as director, but for the actors; never accept directing without a feeling of full responsibility and don't approach any task mechanically, from routine; assure the proper length of time for working with the actors and accept directing only when personally well-prepared. Along with stage directing, Jacques Chwat was very committed to his work as professor of Stage Directing at Hunter College. Some years ago he invited me to Hunter college to speak to his students about the basic principles of "montage" of the performance. He said he wanted me to speak to the future directors about technique, about the craft, but precisely from the perspective of the highest artistic demand – of which the measure and incarnation is Constantin Stanislavsky – so not from the perspective of any commercialism. This is the reason for my invitation, he said.
When I met him last summer in New York City, he said that the most important thing for him is simply to work. And he specified the teaching of directing at Hunter College and the work as editor of The ACT, which had become for him a very important matter. "C'est tout."
I met him more than 20 years ago at New York University when he appeared as a volunteer to help me with instant-translation during a long, practical workshop which I conducted there with Ryszard Cieslak for a select group of students and professors of acting and directing. Many times, through these many years, he accompanied me during lectures in this capacity of instant-translator. But it was always clear that in no way is he just an ordinary translator, but rather a professional colleague with knowledge of the material and real involvement in the matters, a stage director himself, who didn't just know several languages (and so was translating), but who knew and understood the nature of our craft. And who wanted to serve this craft, on the one hand, because of others, and on the other, because of himself.