The history of the Panstwowa Wyzsza Szkola Teatralna im. Ludwika Solskiego w Krakowie (the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts of Cracow) began in 1946. In that year the famous Polish actor, Juliusz Osterwa, took the initial steps which in effect led to the establishment of the Ludwik Solski Akademy for the Dramatic Arts through the amalgamation of three studios that had been in operation in Cracow (the Teatr Actors' Studio, the Teatr Slowackiego Actors' Studio, and Iwo Gall's Dramatic Studio).

In its period the new college provided a three-year training course in drama for prospective actors In 1949, when its name was changed to the Panstwowa Wyzsza Szkola Aktorska (State Drama College), the period of studies was extended to 4 years. Its eventual name, the Panstwowa Szkola Teatralna im. Ludwika Solskiego, was determined in 1955. From 1954 to 1964 this Cracovian drama college also provided a course for dramatic artists specialising in the puppetry and the puppet theatre, in the Puppet-Play Department of the Actors' Faculty. In the college's new form this department was reactivated in 1972, acquiring independent status as the Puppet Theatre Faculty located in Wroclaw. The third course of studies available at the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts is theatre directing. The Faculty of Directing was created in 1955 and continued in its original structure to 1962. In 1973 the offer of this kind of drama education was re-opened, and each academic year since the Faculty of Play Directing has had an intake of three of four students wishing to study the director's art in a four-year course. The next important stage in the development of the Academy's structure was the establishment in 1979 of an Actors' Faculty in Wroclaw. At present the Academy recruits new students every year for the Actors' Faculties at Cracow and at Wroclaw, the Faculty of Play Directing at Cracow, and the Puppet Theatre Faculty at Wroclaw. From its very beginnings the Cracovian Academy for the Dramatic Arts has been run by some of the most eminent Polish dramatic artists, Juliusz Osterwa, Tadeusz Burnatowicz, Wladyslaw Woznik, Eugeniusz Fulde, Bronislaw Dabrowski, Jerzy Krasowski, Danuta Michalowska, Jerzy Trela, and Jerzy Stuhr. The Academy's history has been fashioned and influenced over various lengths of time on the one hand by outstanding teachers and trainers for the actors' and directors' professions, as well as by famous theoreticians of the dramatic arts, while on the other hand also by its own graduates who have made a substantial impact on the theatre in Poland and other countries. Alongside the artistic and teaching personalities already mentioned, who have held the office of Rector and other prominent in the Academy, the following celebrities in the world of the theatre have also conducted practical classes here in acting, directing or music: Jerzy Jarocki, Tadeusz Kantor, Mieczyslaw Kotlarczyk, Wladyslaw Krzeminski, Ewa Lasek, Krystian Lupa, Krzysztof Penderecki, Anna Polony, Krystyna Skuszanka, Marta Stebnicka, Konrad Swinarski, and Roman Zawistowski. Many of these well - known artists are still teaching at the Academy. Some of the Academy's more outstanding graduates in the first decade of the teaching activities include Zbigniew Cybulski, Jerzy Grotowski, Leszek Herdegen, Gustaw Holoubek, Jerzy Jarocki, Bogumil Kobiela, and Halina Mikolajska, while subsequent decades produced further prominent alumni: Jerzy Binczycki, Teresa Budzisz - Krzyzanowska, Ewa Demarczyk, Jan Nowicki, Jan Peszek, Anna Polony, Maciej Prus, Wojciech Pszoniak, Anna Seniuk, Jerzy Stuhr, and Marek Walczewski. A significant contribution to the history of the Academy is the fact that many of its students and graduates have been involved in the emergence of important dramatic initiatives, such as the establishment of Jerzy Jasinski's Teatr STU at Cracow, or the Teatr imienia Stanislawa Witkiewicza at Zakopane. From its earliest years the Ludwik Solski Academy has always been a source of continuity for the Polish theatrical arts, thanks to the fact that its teaching staff for the diverse subjects and courses offered come from various artistic generations. For many years the Academy was honoured to have members of staff who had been successful actors before the Second World War, and many of them (e.g. Tadeusz Burnatowicz, Halina Gallowa, Wladyslaw Krzeminski, Waclaw Nowakowski or Wladyslaw Woznik) had attended drama colleges in prewar times. When it engages its own graduates as staff members, the Academy provides them with the conditions are indispensable for the continuation of the best traditions in Polish dramatic acting: a profound respect for the language of the stage and for the national repertoire, and strict adherence to the principles of the actors' professional ethics. Another important factor contributing to the Academy's essential character and status is its close link with the theatres of Cracow. There is a patent correlation between the condition of the city's theatres and condition of the Academy for the Dramatic Arts pursuing its teaching and academic activities in the same city. The fact that the Academy's teaching staff is composed of a large number of Cracovian theatre personalities, whose views on drama and the methods of teaching they use cover a wide range of standpoints, gives its students the opportunity to a comprehensive education in drama studies and artistic training. Since 1946 well over a thousand students have graduated from the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts of Cracow, and they have found employment on the theatre stages in Poland, and also in many other European countries, in both North and South America, and in Australia.

Jacek Popiel