The Polish actor Ryszard Cieslak, who died in June 1990, joined Jerzy Grotowski's first theatrical venture, the Theatre of the Thirteen Rows in Opole, in 1962, three years after its formation, remaining with Grotowski throughout the life of the Laboratory Theatre in Wroclaw, and until it ceased touring early in 1980 after Grotowski's period of paratheatrical experiments had begun. Cieslak is best remembered for his performances in The Constant Prince and Apocalypsis cum Figuris, and his achievements as an actor were in some senses inseparable from those of Grotowski – but in later years he worked independently, both as a director and, before his death, in the memorable Tiresias-like role of Dhrtarastra in Peter Brook's version of The Mahabharata. In the first part of this feature, Ferdinando Taviani explores the nature and the quality of Cieslak's work, and its relationship with the Laboratory Theatre. To complement his analysis, we are reprinting the final interview given by Cieslak before his death, which was first published on 2 May 1990 in the literary supplement of the Polish-language American journal Nowy Dziennik. Its occasion was the screening of the film of The Mahabharata in Los Angeles and other United States cities in May and June 1990.