Polish playwright Slawomir Mrozek buried in Krakow

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Dissident playwright Slawomir Mrozek, considered by many to be one of Poland’s greatest writers for the stage, was buried during a state ceremony on Tuesday.

People waited in the rain in the southern historic city of Krakow, where Mrozek’s career began, to sign a condolence book. Then a hearse drawn by two black horses took the metal urn to its resting place at St. Peter and Paul church. The funeral Mass was conducted by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who served as a personal secretary of the late Pope John Paul II.

President Bronislaw Komorowski posthumously awarded Mrozek the Grand Cross of the Order of Poland’s Rebirth, in recognition of his contribution to Poland’s culture.

“We are bidding farewell to a master of wise grotesque that was filled with deep thought,” Culture Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski said during the service, which was attended by other government officials and Mrozek’s publishers from Poland and abroad.

Poland completed its transformation from a communist to a democratic country in 1989. Long before then, Mrozek made his name with surrealistic, satirical plays, notably the 1964 “Tango,” which slyly ridiculed communism.

He also made pointed but skeptical observations about human nature. That convoluted form protected Mrozek from censorship and allowed for his works to be staged in Poland.

Some critics say that “Tango” is a contemporary “Hamlet” in which the son revolts against the values of his parents. It also shows how unscrupulous, brutal force seizes power at a time of clashes between different systems of values.

“Tango” and some of his other plays, including one-act pieces such as “Striptease” and “Out at Sea,” were staged in London and Off Broadway, and were ranked along with the works of French dramatist Eugene Ionesco. Both deal with the individual sense of freedom and with a group’s power of manipulation.

Born in 1930 in Borzecin, near Krakow, Mrozek tried studying art and architecture but did finish his studies. Instead, he became a cartoonist and a reporter, but soon switched to writing short stories and plays, gaining critical acclaim, especially with “Tango.”

A communist party member at first, he was stripped of his passport after criticizing Poland’s participation in the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia to crush its Prague Spring reforms. He remained in France, where he was at the time.

Mrozek also lived in Italy, Mexico and the United States before returning to Poland for a few years in 1996.

He died on Aug. 15 in Nice, France, where he had moved in 2008.

He is survived by his second wife, Susana Osorio-Mrozek.

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