A polemic response to Heiner Mueller’s Hamletmachine, Opheliamachine is a postmodern tale of love, sex and politics in a fragmented world of confused emotions and global, virtual sexuality. Since its premiere in 2013, the celebrated experimental play has been performed and studied around the world, with each culture and language feeding into and responding to Opheliamachine‘s collage of modern existence.
This edited collection brings together eight different translations of the play, offering English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Romanian and Polish language interpretations of the original text. Along with two introductory essays, these different versions of Opheliamachine provide academics, artists and teachers the opportunity to study a fascinating intersection of Shakespeare, translation, adaptation, feminism and avant-garde theatre.
The play premiered at City Garage Theatre Company in Santa Monica, CA. In 2022, it received its European premier at the Berliner Ensemble in Germany.
“Difficult comedy of ideas and ideologies honestly stimulates with its perceptiveness . . . Romanska has a vision comprehensive enough to relish irony and pose deeper questions . . . Fiercely meditative mirror . . . Funny yet brutal . . . Don’t be afraid: It is OK, even purgative, to laugh.” — The Hollywood Reporter
“An uncompromising vision. . . . fiercely confrontational new play . . . As densely associative and enigmatic as Muller’s . . . Though Ophelia’s quest for self-determination teeters on the brink of inevitable annihilation, she ‘fails better’ (in Samuel Beckett’s sense). With few traditional theater points of reference to navigate by, her uncompromising journey is not for the intellectually incurious.” — Los Angeles Times
“A vigorous deconstruction of the feminine psyche, image and gender roles . . . Romanska’s script—heavy laden with dense imagery and symbolism—explores love, sex, violence, politics, class sensibilities, feminist aesthetics, the vacuities of mass culture and the timeless mystery of death. This is theater that’s not easily accessible and is devilishly bleak at times, but it’s not without shards of humor, and is relentlessly provocative and challenging.” — LA Weekly
“Stunning Piece of Performance Art . . . Brilliant writing of Magda Romanska takes us on a visionary exploration of love, politics and confused emotions . . . What I can say is, please, don’t miss this. Whether you fully comprehend it or just enjoy it, it is a fabulous treat for your psyche.” — Los Angeles Post
“Romanska gives us an unsettling and internally conflicted picture of global gender relations. She owes more to the tradition of astringently feminist, linguistically challenging playwriting which includes Sarah Kane and Elfriede Jelinek than she owes to Muller. A worthy heir to this legacy, Romanska carves out a space of critical resistance in Opheliamachine, a space where the ugliest and the most beautiful of our desires can exist, as they do in life, side by side, where the death-dealing and life-giving vie for dominance.” — Cultural Weekly
“Opheliamachine explores the themes of femininity, power, sex, rage, love, and madness through a faceted portrayal of Ophelia. . . . If you’re looking for a play or a company that ties everything into neat little knots—this probably isn’t for you. If you’re willing to tackle a play as much as experience it—you won’t be disappointed you spent 60 minutes in their world.” — Radio KCRW (NPR)
The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking
The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking was developed at the Lark Theatre and subsequently adapted for zoom at the Roundabout Theatre as part of its Reverb Festival 2021. Based on Goethe’s text of “Doctor Faustus” and influenced by the dramaturgy of Adrienne Kennedy, Heiner Mueller, and Gertrude Stein, the play is a meditation on life, death, body, time, space, and pandemic. When Stephen Hawking makes a bargain with the devil, who pays the price?
“Among [the festival works] that I’d most like to see further developed are Magda Romanska’s The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking, a complex and eerily magnetic offering that includes scenes of cryptic dialogue between A.A. Brenner and Gregg Mozgala as Hawking and Mephistopheles in front of an enlarged black and white chessboard that seems a deliberate homage to early Ingmar Bergman, and another scene of silhouettes of people in wheelchairs being pushed in front of a backdrop of Seurat’s painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte, with a woman repeating the upbeat sentences that people with disabilities hear all the time — ‘You’re such an inspiration” — rending it with so many obnoxious variations that it becomes both comic and pointed.” — New York Theater
Life Is Elsewhere
Life is Elsewhere narrates the changes that pandemic inflicted on those of us for whom our homes became both places of confinement and places of freedom. The title of the play is Life is Elsewhere. It comes from the quote by French Symbolist poet, Arthur Rimbaud: “True life is elsewhere. We are not in the world.” The idea that we can just pick up what we left off before the pandemic is cruel and unrealistic as families and friends of the dead will have to come to terms with their tragic losses. The play was recorded on Zoom and on Boston Commons as part of the Speakeasy Theatre Company’s Resilience project.