In 1971, Józef Szajna, a scenographer, director, painter and a theatre theorist, became a director of the Classical Theatre. Under his leadership the scene at Marszałkowska developed into an independent, experimental theatre open to new forms and artistic quests, named Teatr Rozmaitości (Variety Theatre). In 1972, the scene in the Palace of Culture and Science became the official Studio Theatre in 1972.
After the very first season of Józef Szajna's mandate, the Studio Theatre obtained a very distinctive style, different from the more conservative Dramatic Theatre, situated in the opposite wing of the Palace of Culture and Science. In 1972, on Szajna’s initiative, a contemporary art gallery was established within the Studio Theatre.
At the beginning of the 1980s, a dispute emerged between Józef Szajna and the artistic group considering the form and the future of the institution. The introduction of the martial law from 13th of December 1981, provided Szajna an opportunity to end the conflict without losing his reputation. His resignation, which he had announced shortly after the declaration of the martial law, was publicly considered by the public (unaware of the internal conflicts in the theatre) a sign of a political resistance.
Following this event, Jerzy Grzegorzewski, a recognised director, scenographer, and a playwright, was appointed as a new artistic director of the theatre. Mateusz Żurawski, an expert in Grzegorzewski’s opus and life, claims that the authorities allowed his nomination due to his reputation of a “harmless lunatic”; a person concentrated on the art itself, who refrains from commenting on the reality and addressing political issues in his works. Under his leadership in the 1980s, the Studio Theatre was one of the few theatrical institutions which maintained a high artistic level.
From a diachronic perspective, the plays performed by the Grzegorzewski group contained an ambiguous and profound commentary of Polish reality in the 1980s. Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz became a reference to the artistic spirit of the theatre which was named after him in 1985. In the 1980s, the Studio Art Centre further developed its activities, e.g. by creating a film documentation studio. Grzegorzewski left the theatre in 1997 and was succeeded by Zbigniew Brzoza (artistic director) and Krzysztof Kosmala (executive director).
Between 2007 and 2009, the position of a director was held by Bartosz Zaczykiewicz who tried to revive the Studio Gallery. However, some of the Studio Theatre initiatives at that time were either terminated or restructured. The management company was closed further on and the collection of the Film Studio was transferred to the Zbigniew Raszewski Theatre Institute. As a result, the Studio Art Center ceased to exist.
In 2010, , the Jerzy Grzegorzewski Section was created within the Studio Theatre. Mateusz Żurawski works on the archives inherited from the former director of the Theatre and on all the other archives related to the Studio Theatre. His mission also involves making the collection available to the broad public.
Warszawa, Warsaw, Poland
Show on map
Date of founding
Type of organisation
- Government/State organisation
Author(s) of this page
- Gospodarczyk, Hanna