DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN (2004) | The Madwoman leaves the frame ~ Zhenya & Joseph Lavy | Photo: Scott Brauer

DREAM OF A RIDICULOUS MAN (2004) | The Madwoman exits the frame ~ Zhenya & Joseph Lavy | Photo: Scott Brauer


2000, Seattle WA

APL is a Washington State Non-Profit Corporation.


Joseph Lavy and Zhenya Lavy


Annie Paladino


Emily Jo Testa, Jennifer Crooks, Margaretta Campagna, Matthew Sherrill, Sara Kaus, and Tyler J. Polumsky


Catherine Lavy


  • to connect the performer directly with memory (individual and collective), fantasy, and mythology by means of psycho-physical exercises and paratheatrical activities;
  • to investigate means of communicating this inner process through the precise, dynamic use of poetry, song, movement, dance, and action;
  • to create simple, engaging theatrical productions at the confluence of the performers’ personal resources and traditional (artistic and cultural) material; and,
  • to reveal through detailed, rigorous performance the impulses of the human psyche toward states of grace.


Akropolis Performance Lab is an ensemble theatre working in the tradition of Jerzy Grotowski’s Polish Laboratory Theatre and Eugenio Barba’s Odin Teatret. Learn more about APL’s artistic influences.


Ours is an artisanal approach. We resist the drive to commercialism, unnecessary infrastructure, and adrenalin-fueled mass production currently stunting theatrical arts in America, instead favoring exquisite creation, subtly nuanced for small audiences, questioning intellects, and individual experience. An Akropolis performance does not open until the art is ready. Through ongoing ensemble training, as well as extended exploration and rehearsal processes — both inherited and original to the company — APL crafts unparalleled, deeply layered performance experiences at the intersection of source material, cultural heritage, physical action, music, dance, and personal memory. Reduced to its most fundamental level, theatre exists only in the relationship between actor and witness. Therefore, we embrace a minimalist aesthetic; we eliminate the noise of our modern, techno-frenetic world, bring clarity to the actor-witness relationship, and enrich the experience for all. Simultaneously ancient and new, beautiful and essential, our ensemble-creative-mind’s distinct aesthetic signature is Theatre of Polyphony.


In contrast to many small, alternative theatres who strive to produce beyond their means, we actively resist pressures to institutionalize and embrace Grotowski’s Poor Theatre ethos as an opportunity to eliminate superfluous theatrical elements and focus on revealing the deep artistic wealth actors bring from within.

Ultimately, theatre is reducible to the relationship between actor and spectator, the actor being the central figure in any performance event.

Actors communicate thoughts, feelings, desires through physical and vocal actions. These actions should possess the quality to awaken within the performer and spectator associations linked with both individual and collective experiences. Any action is permitted, provided it is deliberate; it is justified by the parameters of the project; and it has been composed into a repeatable structure.

Our deep respect for the work of a performer requires that we be rigorous and diligent in challenging the performer to go beyond perceived limitations and to open up with courage into a realm of transcendence and revelation. This work cannot happen strictly in the context of show-by-show rehearsal. It must happen in a laboratory atmosphere where the performer can explore the nature of performance free from the pressures of public scrutiny.

Commitment to what Stanislavsky called “work on oneself” in the form of a regular physical and vocal training emphasizing psychosomatic expression is integral to participation in our work. In many ways, this work is what defines Akropolis as a laboratory for performance study rather than a strictly producing organization and it is what distinguishes APL as one of Seattle’s premiere ensemble theatres rather than an artistic collective.

Every external element added to the work of the actor (i.e. costumes, props, lighting) has the sole purpose of increasing the actor’s powers of expression. They should be considered active either as partner with or extension of the actor. They should be treated as living beings whose nature can be friendly or hostile but never neutral.

The scenic arrangement should facilitate a clear relationship between performer and spectator. It should define the liminal space of the action and place the spectator into a deliberate alliance with the action.


“Akropolis” reflects the artistic and personal heritage of its founders.

The artistic heritage of APL Artistic Directors Joseph and Zhenya Lavy can be traced most directly to Jerzy Grotowski and the Polish Laboratory Theatre, whose production of Wyspianski’s Akropolis was the among the first to bring them international recognition.

APL’s creative seed was first planted in 1992, while founders Joseph and Zhenya Lavy were members of New World Performance Laboratory in Akron OH. “Akron” Akron has the same etymological roots in ancient Greek as “Akropolis,” which translates to City on the Hill. Even further back, Joseph grew up in another (albeit very small) akropolis: Chardon OH. The Lavys’ move to Seattle,  a city situated on several hills, as the location to launch their company solidified their conviction to call it Akropolis.

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  1. Maurine Heberden

    Joseph and Zhenya,
    The very beautiful reading we gathered for yesterday and elevating discussion we have shared at Akropolis has solidified greatly my convictions and zeal I originally discovered with “The Plague”- not only for this play, but for plays of its spirit to come. This is the sort of encounter and caliber in theatre I was hoping to meet soon enough. The sort of exquisiteness you search for, I wish to honor throughout my work. To walk into this Akropolis, where art is the highest sanctuary for men and women there, enlivens the mind and heart.Thank you for curating and granting my play your particular attention. Your salon is a rare gift to playwrights, actors and all people who arrive there, artistically, intellectually, humanly: you have my highest praise and gratitude.
    Many, many thanks,
    Maurine Heberden

    • I saw Ecce Faustus last night and thought it was beautiful in some very unanticipated ways. I expected the well-executed physicality and the honesty of the acting, but was blown away by the power and beauty of the music, as well as the cumulative power of the strange, disjointed story. I just let my mind slide, soaked it in and left feeling very happy (also not at all what I had expected!).

      David S. Klein

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