Performing Arts Associate Professor Magda Romanska had her essay about the late Polish dramatist/writer/cartoonist Sławomir Mrożek published in the LA Review of Books blog.
The essay, “The Comic Frame of Sławomir Mrożek: Or, How to Tell if You Live in a Totalitarian Country,” examines Mrożek’s comic style, his approach to political realities, and where he fits in, philosophically and dramatically, within the canon of postwar Western playwrights.
Mrożek never saw himself as someone who actively advocated for political change; he didn’t see himself as a political playwright, not in the way these terms are used today. His works are void of the type of sacred pathos and self-righteous piety that permeates so much of today’s so-called political theatre. Mrożek’s political critique is done on the sly, casually, as if by accident; seemingly without purpose, motive, or even self-awareness. In the tradition of great jokers, the playwright constructs his authorial alter ego as someone who is too thoughtless to understand the mechanisms of power to be a real threat to it.