Authors: Sławomir Mrożek

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Polish playwright

Author Works

Drama:

Profesor, pr. 1956 (The Professor, 1977)

Policja, pr., pb. 1958 (The Police, 1959)

Męczeîstwo Piotra Oheya, pr., pb. 1959 (The Martyrdom of Peter Ohey, 1967)

Indyk, pb. 1960

Na peunym mrozu, pr., pb. 1961 (Out at Sea, 1961)

Karol, pr., pb. 1961 (Charlie, 1967)

Strip-Tease, pr., pb. 1961 (Striptease, 1963)

Zabawa, pb. 1962 (The Party, 1967)

Kynolog w rozterce, pb. 1962

Czarowna noc, pr., pb. 1963 (Enchanted Night, 1967)

Śmierć porucznika, pb. 1963

Utwory scenicze, pb. 1963

Wybór dramatów, pb. 1963, 1987, rev. and enlarged 2000 (2 volumes)

Krawiec, wr. 1964, pb. 1977

Tango, pb. 1964 (English translation, 1966)

Poczwórka, pb. 1967

Testarium, pb. 1967 (The Prophets, 1972)

Six Plays, pb. 1967

Woda, pb. 1967 (radio monologue)

Drugie danie, pb. 1968 (Repeat Performance, 1967)

Vatzlav, pr., pb. 1970 (English translation, 1970)

Three Plays, pb. 1972

Rzeźnia, pr. 1973 (radio play), pr. 1975 (staged)

Szczęśliwe wydarzeńie, pr., pb. 1973

Emigranci, pr. 1974 (The Emigrés, 1976)

Garbus, pr., pb. 1975

Serenada, Polowanie na lisa, Lis filozof, pr., pb. 1977

Lis aspirint, pb. 1978

Pieszo, pb. 1980

Ambasador, pr. 1981

“Striptease,” “Tango,” “Vatzlav”: Three Plays, pb. 1981

Alfa, pr. 1984 (Alpha, 1984)

Kontrakt, pr. 1986

Portret, pr. 1987

Milosc na Krymie: Komedia tragiczna w trzech aktach, pb. 1994

Short Fiction:

Półpancerze praktyczne, 1953

Słoń, 1957 (The Elephant, 1962)

Wesele in Atomice, 1959

Postępowiec, 1960

Deszcz, 1962

Opowiadania, 1964 (2 volumes)

The Ugupu Bird, 1968

Teleplays:

Dom na granicy, 1967 (adaptation of his short story; The Home on the Border, 1967)

Miscellaneous:

Polska w obrazach, 1957

Dziela zebrane, 1994-1998 (collected works; 12 volumes)

Biography

The son of a village postmaster, Sławomir Mrożek (muh-RAW-jehk) was born on June 26, 1930, in Borzęcin, near Krákow. In 1939, the Soviet army moved into Poland to meet the Nazis, and independent Poland’s twenty-one-year life came to an end. Mrożek spent the remainder of his boyhood near Krákow in a country under foreign domination. Although he never completed a university degree, the playwright studied architecture and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krákow; he also studied Asian art and philosophy for a time. His interest in structure and artifice, as evidenced in the areas he chose to study, seems to have carried over into his fiction and his dramatic works.{$I[AN]9810001724}{$I[A]Mro{zdot}ek, S{lstrok}awomir[Mrozek, Slawomir]}{$I[geo]POLAND;Mro{zdot}ek, S{lstrok}awomir[Mrozek, Slawomir]}{$I[tim]1930;Mro{zdot}ek, S{lstrok}awomir[Mrozek, Slawomir]}

In 1955, he began drawing cartoons and writing humorous sketches for the Krákow newspapers. The so-called thaw of 1956 removed some restrictions on the creative expression of Polish artists; one year later, the appearance of Mrożek’s illustrated collection of stories and sketches called The Elephant helped establish him as a satirist and a writer of fantasies, which were often thinly disguised, humorous attacks on the bumbling Polish bureaucracy. By 1958, Mrożek was editing a weekly, Postępowiec, to which he contributed more satiric pieces. Meanwhile, he became involved with an improvisational theater group called Bim-Bom, for which he wrote a short play called The Professor. Most of his plays, beginning with The Police in 1958, were first published in Dialog. He supplemented his income as a playwright through journalism, illustrations, theater criticism, and translations of English poetry into Polish.

The Police was produced at Warsaw’s Teatr Dramatyczny in June of 1958. Mrożek’s vision, both frightening and hilarious, became increasingly popular on Polish stages; eight more of his plays were produced in the next six years. He soon became Poland’s best-known playwright outside Poland as well; in 1961, Mrożek had his American premiere in New York City, where the Phoenix Theater presented The Police.

Having been awarded both the literary prize in 1957 by the Warsaw magazine Przegląd Kulturalny and the Millennium Award of the Jurzykowski Foundation in New York in 1964, Mrożek left his native country for Genoa, Italy, in 1964. His intensely Polish play Tango, in which he both satirizes the Polish character and falls under its spell, premiered in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, on April 21, 1965, and some six weeks later was produced in Poland.

The success of Tango, coupled with Mrożek’s outspoken criticism of the Soviets, contributed to a growing international reputation. In 1968, while living in Paris, he publicly denounced the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia; consequently, his passport was revoked, and he was declared persona non grata by the Polish government. His work was banned in Poland from 1968 until 1974. He continued to write during that time, however, and his plays became more overtly political. Freed from the constraints imposed by the Communist government, but also cut off from the theatrical traditions that he had reshaped in his plays, Mrożek lost some of the ingenuity and evasiveness that contributed to the power of his earlier work. His response to Solidarity can be found in Alpha, which concerns a charismatic revolutionary, modeled on Polish labor leader Lech Walesa, kept under house arrest in an unnamed European country.

BibliographyCzerwinski, E. J. Contemporary Polish Theater and Drama (1965-1984). New York: Greenwood Press, 1988. Provides history and criticism of Polish theater in the mid-to late twentieth century. Bibliography and index.Gerould, Daniel, ed. Twentieth Century Polish Avant-Garde Drama: Plays, Scenarios, Critical Documents. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1977. Explores Poland’s experimental theater and provides translations of major plays and documents.Kott, Jan. Theatre Notebook: 1947-1967. Translated by B. Taborski. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1968. Provides translated analysis of Polish theater.Miłosz, Czesław. The History of Polish Literature. 1969. 2d ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. Provides history and criticism of Polish literature. Bibliography and index.O’Neill, Michael C. “A Collage of History in the Form of Mrożek’s Tango.” The Polish Review 28, no. 2 (1983). Explores historical references in Tango.Stephan, Halina. Transcending the Absurd: Drama and Prose of Sławomir Mrożek. Atlanta: Rodopi, 1997. The first monographic study devoted to Mrożek, this work centers on his development as a playwright and provides criticism and interpretation of Mrożek’s life and works. Bibliography and index.
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