Magda Romanska

Magda Romanska
executive director

Magda Romanska is an award-winning theatre and performance scholar, dramaturg, and playwright, with over 15 years of teaching, production and publishing experience in the dramatic arts. She has taught 30 different courses on theatre, dramaturgy, and performance, including at Harvard University, Yale School of Drama, Cornell University, and Emerson College. She worked on over 30 theatre, musical and opera productions (as dramaturg, playwright, and director), including at Boston Lyric Opera, and Yale Rep. She is the author of five critically-acclaimed theatre books, including Reader in Comedy: An Anthology of Theory and Criticism and The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy, a leading handbook of dramaturgy. Currently, she is a research associate at Harvard University’s Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, an Associate Professor of Theatre Studies and Dramaturgy at Emerson College in Boston, MA and the Executive Director and the Editor-in-Chief of In the past, Romanska served on the editorial board of Theater Magazine, the Yale Journal of Law and Humanities, Diacritics Review Journal of Criticism and Theory, Journal of Law and Theatre, Polish Theatre Perspectives Journal, and The Cosmopolitan Review. She was also a founding editor of Palimpsest: Yale Literary and Arts Magazine.  Romanska received her B.A. from Stanford University and her Ph.D. from Cornell University’s Department of Theatre.

The Wooster Group’s “A Pink Chair” – Can You Ever Return?

The Wooster Group’s newest production, A Pink Chair (In Place of a Fake Antique) was commissioned by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Tadeusz Kantor centennial as a tribute to the famous Polish director. The show is based on Kantor’s 1988 piece, I Shall Never Return and his 1942 adaptation of Stanisław Wyspiański’s The Return of Odysseus. Although he began his career as a painter and worked as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Tadeusz Kantor (1915-90) is currently considered one of the most important theatre artists of the twentieth century, and some...

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The Context of Contemporary Polish Theatre: Spotlight on Poland

Today, we are launching The Spotlight on Poland. Here’s the context….. Following the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its regime in Eastern Europe, Polish theatre found itself without a subject. Always political during the forty years of communist rule, and with a clearly defined objective, Polish theatre was suddenly left in an ideological vacuum as the older econo-political order lay in ruins and the new order was yet to be established. The 1990s were a period of transition for both Poland and its theatre. In the first decade of...

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The Theatre Times: Why? Why Now? is a non-partisan, global portal for theatre news. With an expanding collaborative team of Regional Managing Editors around the world, we aim to be the largest global theatre news source online. publishes news stories on daily basis from a variety of sources. In addition to original content, we have agreements with many regional publications which allow us to repost their stories and articles. In addition to our app (available at Apple’s App Store and on Google Play), we are developing many other features that will further enhance our readers’ experience and allow them to connect to other...

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Disability in Comic and Tragic Frames

The connection between humor and disability is perhaps one of the most challenging and underresearched, aspects of comic theory. Modern theorists of humor and comedy generally pursue two lines of inquiry: along one they analyze how, historically, humor at the expense of the disabled has created and reestablished discriminatory and alienating comic conventions (these critics also argue about whether we’ve experienced the emergence of a taboo on such humor—or the continued lack of such a taboo); along the other line of inquiry theorists investigate different comic strategies used by the disabled to avert and displace comic insults (including black...

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Mieczysław Weinberg’s Opera “The Passenger”: On Memory and Forgetting

Polish classical musicians and opera singers have always enjoyed global renown, with singers such as Mariusz Kwiecień, Ewa Podleś, Piotr Beczała, Aleksandra Kurzak, and Andrzej Dobber regularly performing at the world’s top opera houses. Likewise, Polish opera directors have been successful abroad—most recently Mariusz Treliński in his Met debut with Bluebeard’s Castle and Iolanta. Poland’s own operas, however, have largely remained a mystery to opera lovers worldwide. The Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw—founded in 2000 by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in consensus with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the sole mission “to establish Poland as...

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Between Art and Science: A Conversation with Roald Hoffmann

Roald Hoffmann was born in 1937 in Złoczów, Poland. Having survived the German Nazi occupation, in 1946 he left Poland with his family for Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany and arrived in the U.S.A. on February 22, 1949, at the age of 11. He studied chemistry at Columbia and Harvard Universities (PhD 1962). He has received many honors as a scientist, including the 1981 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.  In addition to his scientific work, Roald Hoffmann is also a writer. He has co-written a play with fellow chemist Carl Djerassi, entitled Oxygen, which has been performed worldwide and translated into ten...

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Women Directors in Poland

Although historically Polish theatre has gained worldwide renown predominantly thanks to its male directors, Poland today has a thriving and influential cadre of young women directors, who have gained renown and respect in Poland and abroad. Following the 1989 Round Table talks that ended the forty years of communist regime in Poland, the Polish theatre—always entangled in one way or another in the political struggle—suddenly was left in an ideological and financial vacuum. At the same time, with the emergence of free society, the public debate moved from theatres to the parliament and the media. Culturally, on the crossroad between the...

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Magda Romanska on Dramaturgy and Opera

BLO: What is a dramaturg? MR: In its broadest and earliest definition, dramaturgy means a comprehensive theory of “playmaking.” Originally, the Greek word dramatourgos simply meant someone who was able to arrange various dramatic actions in a meaningful and comprehensive order. Today’s dramaturgs concern themselves foremost with dramatic structure. In the February 2013 episode of the hit TV series Smash, entitled “The Dramaturg,” a dramaturg is referred to as “the book doctor.” His job is to fix the structural errors afflicting the script of the new musical. The concept of dramaturgy as a separate theatrical function originated with the eighteenth-century German...

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The Case for a National Theatre

Mitt Romney’s offhanded crusade against Big Bird, announced in a presidential debate with President Obama during the last election cycle, put naked fear in the hapless hearts of children, puppets, and adults alike. Although the dread over Big Bird’s impending demise was a rare case of bipartisan consensus, particularly troubled were those adults whose left-of center living one way or another depends on government-subsidized arts and culture. In response to the perceived existential threat, our cultural elites mobilized their young and their old to preemptively stand up with Big Bird against the nonchalantly murderous cost-cutting impulse of Romney’s potential...

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Bogusław Schaeffer: Poland’s Renaissance Man

Polish theatre has gained world renown thanks to its innovative and bold experimental style. In international theatre circles, it is often enough to mention the names of Grotowski, Kantor, Witkacy, and Gombrowicz to elicit profound nods of approval. One aspect of Polish theatre that is well known but rarely analyzed is that its greats often straddle many artistic disciplines. Kantor was both painter and theatre director, Witkacy was both painter and playwright, Gombrowicz wrote both novels and plays with equal ease. Drawing on that strength, Polish artists often blend many art forms, feeling equally at home in various fields...

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