São Paulo's Grupo Macunaíma has established a paradigm for a unique form of poor theatre, which has had a marked influence on alternative troupes in Brazil attempting to break the commercial mould and to return to a social vision, lost during the darkest years of the military dictatorship. Grotowski's Towards a Poor Theatre outlines the abstract formulation and practical applications of the method he elaborated in his Polish Laboratory Theatre. The director-theoretician proposed first and foremost to overturn what he called rich theatre: a form of staging using ‘borrowed mechanisms’ from movies and television and expensive scenic technology. The Polish Laboratory was also an actor-centred theatre in which the stage was redesigned architecturally for each performance to allow the performers to interact with the audience and in which there were no naturalistic sets or props, no recorded music or sophisticated lighting. The actor, through a complex system of signs, continually created and recreated the meaning of text, constumes, set, and props. ‘By this use of controlled gesture the actor transforms the floor into a sea, a table into a confessional, a piece of iron into an animate partner, etc.’ (Poor Theatre, p. 21). Grotowski's plays were filled with costumes made of torn bags, bathtubs serving as altars, bunkbeds becoming mountains, hammers used as ‘musical’ instruments. ‘Each object must contribute not to the meaning but to the dynamic of the play; its value resides in its various uses.’ Other tenets of the Grotowski system germane to this study are a return to mythical and ritual roots, the theatrical remaking of classical works, and the collective basis of stagecraft.