My beloved, my angelic, my bewitching,
gentle breeze, scent of the night and sounds of music,
reminiscent of us touching in sweet darkness,
o my darling, o my quiet, o my pretty.
Girl is singing, candle flickers and we listen,
then the silence gently brings us a reminder
of your skin, your silent pauses, forest's perfume
and your freshness, like a meadow's, hypnotizing.
My beloved, my angelic, my bewitching,
song is ending, light is fading, sound receding,
time to enter night of musing and reflections,
time for sin, for game of shadows, reminiscing.
Our voices, healing words return the moments
of childish quarrels, caresses and forgiveness,
words like balsam harmonizing and appeasing,
splendid hells, misguided heavens, absolutions.
Song lyrics by I.Iredynski. Translation by E.A.Falk
Iredynski's first and most important relationship with a woman, his mother, ended when he was four years old. Aleksandra Iredynska left Poland in 1943 and did not come back (1). Her death was never confirmed and her adult son had been exposed to rumors indicating that she was well and living overseas. Instead of experiencing maternal love and devotion Iredynski had to deal with painful emotions of abandonment, rejection and emotional void throughout his life. It is said that the writer had acted as if he was indifferent to his mother's absence, however one of his close friends, Krzysztof Karasek, said in a 2010 radio interview that five or six years before his death Iredynski travelled to USA in hope of finding her (2).
Although Iredynski's father returned home after the war, his presence brought neither love nor comfort. Regular beatings and military style discipline imposed by the sadistic parent added to the boy's childhood trauma and forced 14 year old Iredynski to leave the family home (1). Although their later contacts were sporadic and very difficult, according to the writer's step daughter Dorota Marczewska, the son kept sending his father money, photographs and newspaper clippings about his literary achievements. (2)
With parental relationships based on violence and rejection, Iredynski became unable to maintain close and happy relationships with women and despite his fondness of the opposite sex, he often treated women instrumentally and at times openly expressed his misogyny. His faults however did not deprive him of female companions, on the contrary, they attracted many, including those who became his wives or long term partners. One may speculate that his complex character and addiction to a self-destructive, man about town lifestyle contributed to his two marriages and three serious relationships, including one with Jadwiga Staniszkis, his partner of three years during 1970s, ending (he passed away during his second marriage, aged 46).
Staniszkis, a well known Polish sociologist and academic, wrote about her very difficult and tumultuous union with Iredynski in her book 'Staniszkis. Zycie umyslowe i uczuciowe', published in 2010 (3). There she writes about his drinking, jealousy, betrayals, occasional violence, his partying, entourage and fondness of playing tricks on people. At the same time she writes that being with Iredynski was interesting as he had an acute feeling for lyricism and created an illusion of passion on daily basis to escape the boredom of everyday life. In addition he was a man full of surprises and contradictions, very adaptable, and in the words of his close acquaintance, Polish writer Marek Nowakowski, 'able to change like a chameleon' depending on circumstances and company (2). Nowakowski also said that that the writer had been a loyal friend, who was able to drop his masquerades in the presence of those he trusted and liked (2). Dorota Marczewska, his step daughter, remembers happy times spent together as a family (2), indicating that the writer enjoyed and appreciated the security and warmth of a home environment he never had as a child.
In her book Jadwiga Staniszkis writes that Iredynski needed love and was happy to receive it but was unable to give it back to her (3). The dynamics of the relationship aside, it appears that his damaged psyche and fear of intimacy may have prevented his emotions to stand still and be embraced. His constant escapism seems like a possible way out of having to face feelings which would require him to open up to reveal his true, unhappy self.
Despite his inability to love on a deeper level, Iredynski believed love was necessary but could not last, as the romantic ideals were always meant to be crashed by reality. He believed that the initial infatuation and adoration had to end due to neglect, routine and boredom. Those sentiments are reflected in many of Iredynski's works, such as radio plays 'Window' and 'Lift', a movie script 'Anatomy of Love', and short stories volume 'Sentimental Liaisons', where male protagonists, like the author, quickly tire of love and stability or become disappointed with their beloved, not finding the ideals they were looking for.
In many of Iredynski's works love and fascination turn into marriage only to lead to boredom and betrayal, and after failed attempts to resurrect love, inevitably end in unhappiness, cruelty and divorce. Even some of his most romantic poems/song lyrics, mention fears or past misunderstandings and often contain references to carnal images or pleasures. Love is rarely pure and uncomplicated in his works, as was the case in his life, marriage is condemned, even divorce seems to be useless as it would only lead to another failed marriage, as stated by the male protagonist in the radio play 'Lift'.
It is common knowledge that although Iredynski regarded love as fleeting and unstable, he was fond of physicality of relationships. Both in his life and 'on paper' love and admiration for women is often associated with sexual attraction. Such is the case in the play titled 'The Third Breast', in which George becomes infatuated with Eva because of her exciting physical anomaly, a third breast, only to lose his enthusiasm once the breast is removed. At the beginning of their romance he says to Eva “You are the most exciting woman I've ever known. Just because you're different”. She later questions “How can you like me with something so disgusting, strange and revolting wrong with me?” to which he replies “I like you only because of it”. It does not come as a surprise that after learning about Eva's surgery George's feelings change: “You were a monster. A beautiful monster. Now you're a woman with a scar on her ribs. Nothing more”.
Jadwiga Staniszkis has indicated that the idea of a third breast came from Iredynski's belief that some men, including himself, were sexually attracted to women with physical faults or irregularities (in her case it was a sizable scar on her otherwise perfect face). In an interview conducted by Liliana Snieg-Czaplewska titled 'Unhurtable', she stated that Iredynski started to write about manipulation and wrote 'The Third Breast' following their very difficult and complex relationship kept 'alive' by manipulative behavior and psychological games (4).
Iredynski was undoubtedly both fascinated by and disappointed with love. His relationships with women were essential to him and played a very important role in his personal and professional life. Although he is known to have regarded the opposite sex as inferior to men and often treated women as sex objects, his lyrical alter ego viewed lovers' sensual and passionate acts as being beautiful and romantic. It also appears that a physical union between sexes was the only aspect of male and female relationship Iredynski could not fault and regarded as an almost sacred act validating and glorifying the primeval male-female bond. Contrary to love, sexual act is simple, does not require verbalization and explanation, is definite in its origin and end, purpose and process, and can provide 'shelter' for lovers afraid of commitment, as can be seen in Iredynski's beautiful poem 'The two of us'.
The Two of Us
Here we are, You and I, caressing defenseless
words unborn hibernate in the caves of language
gagged by the passion flaming through the bodies
halos above us so heavy they're hurting
And then comes the instant vibrating yet soundless
mercurial halos turning into silver
sweat clinging to nipples not wanting to ripen
silence like fever shoots through us and shivers
Then we freeze, afraid, staring at the moment
scared of the seconds when the words appear.
Desperate to escape like two helpless cowards
we kiss, become one, and have nothing to fear.
Translation by E.A.Falk
1. Ireneusz Iredynski. Wikipedia.pl. Web. 14 June 2013.
3. Staniszkis w nowej ksiazce. Web. 14 June 2013 <www.wiadomosci.gazeta.pl/…/1,114873,7654180/Staniszkis_w_nowej_ksiazce 12/3/10
4. Jadwiga Staniszkis w wywiadzie z Liliana Snieg-Czaplewska. Web 14 June 2013 www.kartkazpodrozy.blog.onet.pl/2010/08/24/milosc-2/
Ambassador Theater Presents
US Premiere of
The Third Breast
By Ireneusz Iredynski
Translated by Sylvia Daneel
Directed by Hanna Bondarewska
Assistant to the Director Matthew Ingraham
Set Design by Antonio Petrov
Music by Paul Oehlers
Sound by Paul Oehlers and George Gordon
Video/Visual Effects by George Gordon
Costumes by Sigrid Johannesdottir
Lights by Joseph R. Walls
Stage Manager Rachel Silvert
Preview: July 10, 2013 at 8pm
Opening July 11, 2013 at 8pm
July 10 – August 4, 2013
Shows: Thursdays – Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 2 pm
Mead Theatre Lab at FLASHPOINT
916 G Street, NW
Washington DC 20001
CAST and Crew:
Sissel Bakken as Eva
Christopher Henley as Thomas
Matthew Ingraham as George
Is there a place on earth where our problems can disappear? A place where money is of no value? A place where we can truly be ourselves? These questions are asked by the characters of "The Third Breast", who attempt to escape from everyday life in search of true identity. The play explores such themes as addiction to power; fear of the Other; the search for an absolute; love and erotic fascination; the consequences of blind faith. Join the Commune on its spiritual journey to achieve perfection. Is it even possible?
The biography of Ireneusz Iredynski, one of Poland's 'angry young men', reads like an adventure novel. He was born in 1939 at the onset of the WWII, which took most of his family, robbed him of childhood and forced him into premature adulthood. His frustration and rebellious nature manifested early, when in 1953 at the age of 14 he left his relatives' care and moved to Cracow to seek a life as a writer. Two years later he made his literary debut and joined the young writers section of Poland's Literary Association. In 1958 he moved to Warsaw, continued writing, and soon embarked on a successful and productive literary career earning himself a well deserved recognition and acclaim both in Poland and overseas. His extensive body of works includes stage and radio plays, short stories, novels, film scripts, poems and song lyrics (1).
The writer's reputation as a talented and fertile author was not the only factor contributing to his fame. Iredynski's rebellious, non-conformist streak and his anti-communist views soon found their way into his writing, attracting the attention of the authorities. It later transpired that he had been under observation since 1958 when one of his poems appeared in "Culture", a Paris magazine blacklisted in Poland. Unable to "pin him down" for any explicit anti-communist expressions, the authorities took advantage of his 'bon vivant' lifestyle and love of female company to charge him with rape and send him to prison (2). Three years spent in a penitentiary left a life-changing impression on 27 year old Iredynski and further reinforced his trademark nihilistic and cynical outlook as well as dominant themes of his works. He once said that prison changed him forever, that everything inside him "got rearranged, broken up"(3).
Justly compared to Dostoyevsky, Iredynski was not only preoccupied with pathological and irrational aspects of human nature but also able to cleverly analyze and justify deviant behavior. His literary 'microscope' examined complex human relations in the context of universal themes of good and evil, freedom and coercion, love and sex, power, violence, obsession, manipulation and deceit. He had said of his writing: "I write about an individual and violence", "My protagonists personify anxiety", "I am interested in extremes"(4). How right he was in saying that his literary characters were a projection of his imagination, dreams, anxieties, knowledge, viewpoint and subconscious. Himself a flawed human, alienated and disappointed, he kept finding himself in constant struggles with his own demons, addictions and obsessions, finding solace in a fast paced and self-destructive lifestyle, which led to his untimely death at the age of 46.
Third Breast is a classic example of one of Iredynski's favorite scenarios in which human weaknesses, insecurities and obsessions paired up with power, lead to manipulation, cruelty and violence. The play invites us into a closed, almost cult like community of nature lovers, whose charismatic spiritual leader, Ewa, unexpectedly grows a third breast and unable to have it removed, becomes depressed and unsure of her future leadership ability. After failed suicide attempt she manipulates her closest allies, a commune founder Thomas and her new lover George, into killing two community members who know her secret and as such pose a threat to her leadership status. George gains Ewa's total trust by playing a key role in the “accidental” killings, and as her favorite and only lover, begins to feel his growing power. What follows makes the plot even more unexpected and shocking…
US Premiere of
The Third Breast
Translated by Sylvia Daneel
Directed by Hanna Bondarewska
Preview July 10, 2013 at 8pm
Opening July 11, 2013 at 8 pm
Run: Th-Sundays until August 4, 2013
Mead Theater Lab at FLASHPOINT
916 G Street, NW, Washington DC,2 0001
1. Szkolnictwo.pl. Ireneusz Iredynski. Web. 19 March 2013
2. Siedlecka, Joanna. Iredynski Zbaletowany. Rzeczpospolita 19
Mar 2005. Web. 19 Mar 2013.
3. Poland in the Classroom. Ireneusz Iredynski. Polish Academic Information Centre. University of Buffalo. Web 19 March 2013.
4. Ireneusz Iredynski. Wikipedia.pl. Web. 19 March 2013.