SECRETS: The Untold Story of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung

A New Drama by Broadway Producer Ken Wydro about the intense relationship between Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud. One Thousand letters were exchanged between these two Masterminds of psychological analysis. One Thousand letters. In six years. This play is based on those actual letters.< FIRST POST - Click on MAY under "Archives" >

Jun 8, 2006


The Background Story of
SECRETS: The Sigmund Freud-Carl Jung Affair

The birth of a new drama, especially one about two great masterminds of the 20th century, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, came about in a most unusual way. Or, perhaps not. Each new creation has its own background story, the coming together at the right moment beyond all predictions and calculations.

After all, you never know when you are going to fall in love.

Right from the start, the writing, directing and producing of this play has been a labor of love. The first draft of this play came to me shortly after the long, hard and painful death of my mother, Olga Dolly Wydro, who had been in and out of emergency rooms and ICU centers of various hospitals for nearly five years before her passing on August 17, 2005.

The dramatic rushes to the hospital in ambulances just in the nick of time had drained the family of energy, spirit and resources. In my case, I found myself up against a wall as a writer and theatre director. Nothing was happening in me or around me other than the concern and helplessness in the presence of my mother who let me know at every turn that "old age is hell."

After the funeral, I found myself in need of rejuvenation and recouperation, so I booked myself into a healing spa in Ixtapan, six thousand feet in the mountains of Mexico. I had had my own bouts with longstanding issues and complexes, which I had been probing in a three year journey in psychoanalysis. During that time, my mentor and analyst, who prefers to remain nameless, had guided me through a number of twisting and disturbing dreams in personal session, and had given me a number of revealing books that were illuminations of contemporary psychoanalytic theory.

In the past, out of my own wonderings, I had read the basic primary texts of Freud and Carl Jung, realizing that the realm of the unconscious, the part of the psyche which was not apparent in everyday waking life, had great impact in the life of my mother, for example. When I examined her life story, from a writer's point of view, I saw habits and patterns that had existed from her childhood that she had never examined or confronted in the course of everyday business life. She never had the time or the inclination to examine her own issues and complexes, mainly because she never knew they were there or how to name them.

Seeing her hooked up to all sorts of tubes and machines made me vow not to die like her -- upset, worried, full of physical pain and psychological angst. The path, it seemed to me, was inward, a coming to terms about how and why I had certain characteristics, Things I did not like about myself, which also got on the nerves of other people.

I brought with me to Mexico several blank journals as well as blank cassette tapes so I could put down my story and try to get a better angle on what was happening inside me, for quite a long time, if I had to tell the honest -to-God truth. I also brought with me several books on the personal history and relationship between Freud and Jung. There seemed tome to be a story there, one that I had never seen dramatized either on stage or on screen. I knew from past experience, twenty five years of making a living in the professional theatre, that their personal and professional story would be at once fascinating and elusive to put down in a two hour drama. There is so much material on these two icons that it was difficult to know where to begin.

All this was in the back of my mind as I trekked up in the mountains of Ixtapan.

I invested seven or eight hours a day in the healing mineral pools, ate fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, received deep tissue shiatsu massages and recorded about twenty dreams in the first two weeks on the retreat. In the beginning of the third week, something baffling, strange and wonderful happened. I had placed eight or nine books on a sofa in the room, an untidy little pile of stuff which I intended to get to at some point. After lunch, for whatever reason, while tidying up the room, the cleaning lady had placed one book on my freshly made bed, perhaps a subtle reminder to me to take better care of my own possessions.

The book was entitled FRED AND JUNG: YEARS OF FRIENDSHIP, YEARS OF LOSS by Linda Donn which was a thoughtful composite of the nearly 1000 letters that Freud and Jung had written to each other from 1907-1913. I read the book in two days, realizing that the behind-the-scenes drama between the two men were in the letters. My primary source material had, in a strange way, opened up before and was "given" to me with much effort, plan or deliberation.

The final two weeks in the mountains of Mexico went by in what some call "a flow." That is, I sat down with one of my blank journals, started writing longhand at 7 or 8 at night. I would look up and it would be 2 or 3 in the morning. It was as if five or ten minutes had gone by when really it had been five or six hours. More than one half of the first draft of the script, which I first called COMPLEXES: The Sigmund Freud - Carl Jung Affair, was written in the sauna where it felt to me as if I were taking dictation rather than writing.

I would turn the sand time dial -- taking a half-hour to empty down -- and would look up to find the sands of time had worn down. Sometimes, dripping with sweat and de-toxifying at the same time, I would stay in the sauna on the Sixth Floor Men's locker room for two or three hours, finishing just in time for the 5 pm hatha yoga class. The first draft, based on the letters compiled by Linda Donn, was nearly 120 pages long. I knew that I would have to re-write and cut back, and somehow make the epistilary language more ready for the stage.

I arrived back in New York on Oct. 31, 2005 -- Halloween -- with two blank journals now totally full and thick with sauna sweat. I had the time to read over the first draft on the flight from Mexico City, and was struck by the sense that the relationship between Freud and Jung was like a romance -- a period of fun, play and courtship followed by a honeymoon on the steamship to and from America in August of 1909, followed by a falling out and a bitter "divorce" in early 1913. There was no evidence of a physical expression of their "love" for each other -- no secret rendezvous in a hidden away chalet - yet there was much evidence that the energy, need and hope shared by both Freud and Jung was an affair of the mind and of the soul.

After all, when you write someone 1000 letters in the course of six years, that averages out to be a letter every two or three days. To me, that meant they were on each other's mind more than the average business or professional relationship. The idea that kept me flying and walking on air was that I should or could audition actors, cast the play, hear it read around the table, perhaps do a staged reading for theatre professionals. And that is what I did. I placed an ad in the Nov. 17, 2005 BACKSTAGE newspaper in New York, which nearly 100 actors came to audition. Eighty women came to read for Emma Jung, and only five or ten actors came for the roles of Freud and Jung. After callbacks, I began rehearsals in early December with two casts -- Cast A which read the dialaogue with no accents, and Cast AA which read the script with European accents. After each reading, I would re-write and pare down, so by the middle of December, the script was down to about 80 pages, with a running time of over two hours. Still more editing to do, and I took a break between mid-December and mid-January 2006. During that time, I read, looked at photographs of the Jung and Freud family, and began to think about who would be best to play these characters on a big stage like Broadway or the West End of London. Both Freud and Jung, it was apparent, were dynamic, volatile personalities, with deep-rooted complexes and issues of their own. Any actor who would tackle this role would need to dig own deep into their own psyches and would have to be willing to open to their own vulnerabilities and secret issues. During the New Year hiatus, I scheduled two staged readings with theatre industry professionals as well as analysts in the audience. We had a target in sight -- Tuesday, Feb. 28 and Wednesday, March 1 -- and we began to select the scenes that would play about an hour, with feedback and discussion to follow. We selected three or four scenes from the beginning of the play, a few scenes from the middle -- especially the voyage to America on January 3, 1913. During that time, I invested some personal funds to put lighting equipment in the MAMA Foundation in Harlem, and paid the actors for each rehearsal and performance.

The response to the first two readings was so positive -- some in the audience cried when Freud finished his letter of good-bye -- that I scheduled two more readings at the end of March. I was also able to secure a booking for the Analytical Psychology Club of New York for a May 24 reading at the C.G. Jung Center, 28 E. 39th St. There was an auditorium there seating about 100 people, and all members of the APC would be invited to attend and give us some candid feedback. After the reading on March 29 and 30, two of the actors were cast in commercial shows, leaving me needing to audition once again. I dropped the accents from the casts, combined cas A and AA, and we began once more to gear up for four addition readings in May and June. I contracted Scotti Rhodes to do some publicity for the additional readings, inviting agents, theatre directors and non-for-profits to help develop the property. I invited Elliot Martin, the veteran Broadway and West End theatre producer who was my producing partner in August Wilson's JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE to take a look at SECRETS, the new name of the piece. Martin expressed enthusiasm, and we began exploring commercial productions in the future. In mid-May, John Breglio, the very experienced attornery for August Wilson, Michael Bennett -- and the producer of the new version of A CHORUS LINE -- agreed to represent me as Author on the project as Attorney. Peter Klein, who had booked MAMA, I WANT TO SING, in Istanbul, Athens and another European cities, thought that at World Premier in Tel Aviv or in Vienna was a good idea. We began pursuing that possibility as well. All in all, a great distance had been covered by the project since that first draft in the mountains of Mexico, and now I feel I have taken the project as far as I can as Director. The producing team is now looking for a top notch director to come in and work with me on the script, much as Lloyd Richards did with August Wilson. I am imagining a very stylized production, mixing dream sequences in with the more realistic scenes and encounters between the characters. We have come to realize that the work of both Freud and Jung is very relevent and pertinent to life in the 21st Century. March 3, 2007 will be the 100th anniversay to the date of the first meeting between Frued and Jung in Vienna which took place on Sunday March 3, 1907."

So far, the creative process has been stimulating, rewarding and illuminating. The feel of "flow" is still in play, with unexpected doors opening at just the right time. If any of those reading this background story would like to explore the possibility of joining the producing or creative team, please write to me at or call me at the MAMA Foundation For The Arts, 212-280-1045. You may also contact my associate producer, Jerry Griffin, at 201-248-9810 or A full script is available for investors, producers of regional theatre representitives. Please keep an eye out for the future growth and development of SECRETS: The Sigmund Freud - Carl Jung Affair. Hopefully, the best is yet to come.


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