Note: I wrote this piece while Grotowski was alive. Except for one detail I have not changed it, and have kept references to him in the present tense. RS
He's a fox, eagle, snake, mole. A shape-shifter, elusive, extremely powerful in the way he holds people close or keeps them at a distance, in either case dazzling them with his aura. His presence is scary to some, mysterious to others. His public appearances are largely just that, and have been for a quarter of a century or more: apparitions, well controlled, with carefully calibrated doses of wisdom and evasion, insight and repetition. Like the songs, dances, and rituals he and his colleagues have harvested from many cultures, Grotowski mixes humility and arrogance, certainty and skepticism, simplicity and pomp. In Catholic Poland he said he was an atheist, but no one who knows his work believes that. But exactly what his religious beliefs are is not easy to say. Those who know him best, have worked with him the longest, have shared whole days and weeks, say he can be witty, warm, friendly, and downright snugly.