The Hybrid Body –The Breasts of Tiresias and intermezzo in verse

by Guillaume Apollinaire

Well then return this night and see how nature can / Provide me with progeny without a woman

This is the battle cry of the male lead of The Breasts of Tiresias, who, like his illustrious mythological forebear, turns into a woman with the aim of repopulating a fanciful Zanzibar. He will succeed in doing this by giving birth to 40,050 children in one night. For her part his wife, called Thérèse, changing her sex and her name to Tiresias, devotes her/himself to various male careers. The whole thing will be resolved by a mysterious fortuneteller. Written by Apollinaire between 1903 and 1916, The Breasts of Tiresias anticipated by over a century, in its hybridization of sexes and theater, a tendency evident to all today. Classic or contemporary?

In collaboration with the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore of Milan and Brescia