My Life as a Rabbit by Izabela Filipiak
(translated by Karen Kovacik and Izabela Filipiak)
Women Online Writing Journal
Issue No 1, July/August 2014
The drama My Life as a Rabbit by Izabela Filipiak
Translated by Karen Kovacik and Izabela Filipiak
Prepared for publication by Urszula Chowaniec and Ursula Phillips
Complete Issue of WOW 1 (2014) ISNN 2056-4791 My Life as a Rabbit Full Text
Introduction by Karen Kovacik
Also read Urszula Chowaniec's word of introduction of Izabela Filipiak ( full text in Reading Room BLOG here )
Urszula Chowaniec's Introduction to the Author:
Who’s Afraid of Izabela Filipiak?
Izabela Filipiak is without doubt one of the most significant Polish authors of the past two decades. Her contribution to post-communist Polish culture is huge, and includes her prose that reveals the mechanisms of domestic violence and dictatorship, which are so often forgotten in the name of political ideals, her brave and eye-opening essays, ironic dramas, lesbian poetry and ground-breaking research on modernist poet Maria Komornicka.
Izabela Filipiak was born in Gdynia in 1961. She decided to study Polish Studies at the University of Gdańsk and became a student of Maria Janion, under whose supervision she wrote her M.A. thesis on Stanisław Grochowiak’s dramas (the title of thesis: Death as Violence) in 1986. Later, she decided to leave Poland. She asked for asylum in France, and subsequently moved to New York. She came back to Poland in 1996, lived in Warsaw for a while and then again moved to the United States, to Berkeley, from where she wrote Letters from the Gulf (Listy znad Zatoki, http://kobiety-kobietom.com/filipiak/). In 2005 she was awarded her Ph.D. at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Now she lives in Gdańsk and works in the Department of American Literature at the University of Gdańsk.
Izabela Filipiak made her literary debut in 1992 with a collection of short stories entitled Śmierć i spirala (Death and the Spiral). This collection, though not autobiographical, refers mainly to Filipiak’s experience of living in the US as a political emigrant during the 1980s. This experience of displacement, both from the physical place, from home and from the culture with which one can fully identify, forms part of the author’s literary world.
My Life As a Rabbit (an excerpt)
A play for two characters and a TV.
The action occurs in a bedroom, living room, kitchen, bathroom, and hallway.
H wears a T-shirt and sweatpants. Z wears pajamas which may be navy blue dotted with little gold stars and crescents. They are dressed like that regardless of time of day.
The bedroom. Morning.
H is awake, Z not yet.
H. You getting up?
Z (confirming) Uhh-huh.
H. Well, are you?
Z. (denying) Uh-uh.
H. That’s good! Let’s stay in all day and make love . . . but only in our minds! We’re too exhausted by life to do it with our bodies. So we’ll do it in our minds. We’ll hug. And snuggle. Like a couple of grandmas! I’ll rock you and you’ll rock me. (She hums a soothing tune.)
The bedroom. Noon.
H. and Z. among throws, blankets and pillows.
Z. I feel like I’ve been sent on a journey, far away. … I dreamt I was in Chechnya. Traversing the lush plateaus of the steppes and then ascending to some hamlet up in the mountains… It was mystical and I had a message to deliver!
H. You don’t want to go there. Not to Chechnya.
Z. Why not?
H. You’ll get abducted.
Z. Not necessarily.
H. Oh yes, you will. There’s no one there but terrorists. They kidnap everyone they can and hold out for ransom.
Z. What if we took a gun and a pitbull?
H. Who’s going to shoot? Not me!
Z. Then I will.
H. You will?
Z. Actually, I’ve been feeling the urge to perform some serial acts of mindless violence. I just need an excuse.
H. What if they shoot you first?
Z. Then I’ll need an ambulance.
H. If you want to shoot someone, kill me.
Z. And get rid of the hen that lays the golden eggs? No way!
H. I’m a hen that lays golden eggs? Hey, I’m a hen!
H. pecks and pokes Z., claws her, and clucks.
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