Congratulations to our colleague, Magda Romanska and her international team for winning the LMDA's Elliott Hayes Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dramaturgy for the global theatre portal, TheTheatreTimes.com (TTT). Magda directed the first African American Playwrights Exchange (AAPEX) Festival in 2011.
Below is an excerpt of a 2011 interview with the Eliott Hayes Award winner, Magda Romanska (African American Playwrights Exchange Interview: Magda Romanska).
From your point of view, what goes into training young dramaturgs?
Good theatre is a complex, multilayered puzzle of textual and contextual, visible and invisible, spoken and unspoken, of violence and tenderness, of the tragic and the laughable, the grandiose and the grotesque. It should pass through you like a spring storm and wrap you up like a quiet night. It should sneak up on you, break your heart, and put it back together again.
Reading theatre is sophisticated detective work that consists of unravelling the subsequent layers. In all that, the dramaturg is like water – sliding in between the layers of meaning, into the nooks and crannies of the text and performance. Theatre is a visceral art, built from the sediments of your experiences, the good and the bad, from the books you’ve read and the people you’ve met. If you’re young, your palette might not have all the hues, but you always have the primary colours to play with.
There are some concrete things I tell my students. One of them is: read. Read everything, especially the stuff you don’t agree with. You need to stay on top of the national and international dialogue, and you need to understand the arguments that people are making and why they are making them. You can’t empathize with the characters if you don’t know where they’re coming from. Be in the world: watch and listen to people, listen to their stories, told and untold; observe small gestures, subtle exchanges, silences, and absences. Research: find out what you don’t know, and then some. Take chances: be Prometheus, Icarus, and Phoenix all rolled into one. Play with fire, get burned, get up and start all over again.
You can read the full interview at