2012 | 61 | 1-2(241-242) | 211-222
Article title

Grzegorz Sinko. Sylwetka badacza i krytyka teatru

Title variants
Grzegorz Sinko. A Portrait of the Researcher and Theatre Critic
Languages of publication
Grzegorz Sinko (1923–2000) was an excellent English philologist, uncommonly insightful theatre critic, outstanding theatre theoretician – in one word, a scholar of great stature. He was also an exceptional, often difficult and always interesting person. He was born in Kraków in 1923 as son of the Classical philologist of great renown, Professor Tadeusz Sinko, and Anna Starzewska, and it is in that town that he spent his childhood and youth. In 1944, he started studying English philology at the Jagiellonian University and completed his course of study in 1948. The first five years of Sinko’s academic work were spent at the University of Wrocław. This is where he received his PhD degree in 1950. He continued his fast-paced academic career in Warsaw. In 1953–1957, he was employed at the State Institute of Art (Państwowy Instytut Sztuki), and was promoted to associate professor, in 1955. Until 1971 he worked at the University of Warsaw where, after being promoted to full professor in 1964, he held various positions. According to his own opinion, he was a demanding professor. Since his debut in 1947, he published more than 450 historical and critical articles, reviews, essays, translations, and commentaries. In the 1950s, his research focused mostly on English theatre and drama. He combined his knowledge of literature and philology with competence in theatre studies. From 1959 to 1977, and especially in the1960s, his essays, analyses and critical studies appeared in Dialog monthly, where he also published his translations of English and German dramas. At the beginning of the 1970s, just as he started working at the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Sinko intensified his collaboration with Teatr. The English- and German-speaking spheres of culture, productions of plays coming from these regions, accounts of what was going on in their theatres and literature of the field were to remain Sinko’s specialty as he was fluent in both languages. In 1970–1988 there appeared in Teatr 138 articles by Sinko; they included theatre and book reviews, essays, etc. It seems that the critical essay, with its less rigorous structure which enabled him to freely combine academic writing, elements of the history of literature and theatre, philology and theoretical approach with descriptions of particular theatre productions and their careful appraisal, supplemented with free expression of his intellect, suited him the most. He was a gifted writer; his articles were erudite, insightful and clear, and his vivid, witty and ironic style, coupled with his penchant for anecdote, were invaluable qualities of his writing. Sinko supported and encouraged theatrical experiments and those in search for something new who were breaking away with tradition just as long as they had a clear understanding of what they were trying to achieve and were able to show it in a convincing, compelling fashion. His critical essays displayed also a new research programme, which Sinko initiated while working at the Institute: the semiotics of theatre. Sinko had a clear and definite idea of how to study theatre. In his view, theatre studies needed a solid methodological foundation in the form of a well-developed theory, which made ample use of structuralism, semiotics, and theory of literature in general. Sinko wrote three remarkable books: Kryzys języka w dramacie współczesnym – rzeczywistość czy złudzenie? (A Crisis of Language in Modern Drama: Reality or Illusion? Wrocław, 1977), Opis przestawienia teatralnego – problem semiotyczny (Description of Theatrical Performance As a Semiological Problem, Wrocław, 1982), and Postać teatralna i jej przemiany w teatrze XX wieku (The Theatrical Character and Its Evolution in Twentieth-century Theatre, Wrocław, 1988). In his research he referred to a substantial body of English, German and French literature in the field of linguistics, literary theory and theatre studies, drawing from there categories and concepts to grasp, analyse and describe with precision the phenomena he focused on. He saw the importance of the of the paradigm shift that had been taking place in the modern humanities and paid close attention to post-structuralism. He died a tragic death.
Physical description
  • Instytut Sztuki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
  • E. G. Craig, O sztuce teatru, wybór G. Sinko, przekł. M. Skibniewska, wstęp i noty Z. Hübner, Warszawa 1964.
  • G. Sinko, Dramat oraz scena angielska okresu restauracji i XVIII w., Warszawa, Łódź 1954.
  • G. Sinko, Dramat oraz scena angielska XIX i początku XX wieku, [w:] G. Sinko, T. Grzebieniowski, Teatr krajów zachodniej Europy XIX i początku XX wieku, część I: Kraje anglosaskie, Warszawa, Łódź 1954.
  • G. Sinko, Klucze do „Iwony” Gombrowicza, „Teatr” 1975 nr 7.
  • G. Sinko, Kryzys języka w dramacie współczesnym – Rzeczywistość czy złudzenie?, Wrocław 1977.
  • G. Sinko, Opis przedstawienia teatralnego – problem semiotyczny, Wrocław 1982.
  • G. Sinko, O potrzebie teorii, „Teatr” 1974 nr 20.
  • G. Sinko, Postać sceniczna i jej przemiany w teatrze XX wieku, Wrocław 1988.
  • G. Sinko, Szekspir w Teatrze Narodów. „Teatr” 1975 nr 15.
  • G. Sinko, Wielkość i upadek realizmu w teatrze angielskim XVIII w., „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 1952 nr 1.
Document Type
Publication order reference
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