While theatre has always been the major force generating new translations of Shakespeare’s plays, the prerequisite assuring a successful (i.e. theatrically functional) rendering is the translator’s awareness of the theatrical potential of poetic drama. The combination of poetic and dramatic skills on the part of the translator, coupled with the interpretative reading that underlies all translation, provides a literary historian with interesting questions. How are the translator’s creative forces channelled to strike a balance between translating and playwrighting? To what extent should we perceive translated literature as an integral part of the writer–translator’s literary output? Is it possible to interpret one in the light of the other and can such interpretation enrich our understanding of the translated texts’ functioning in the target culture? Looking for answers to these questions, I focus on the blend of the poetic and playwrighting temperaments that characterise Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz’s translations of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet.