dramaturgy/publication | MAGDA ROMANSKA
Magda Romanska, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Theatre Times, shares how her online theatre news platform is striving to expand access to performing arts news from around the globe.
Interview by Megan McClain
Tell me about The Theatre Times. What sparked its creation?
The Theatre Times is a non-partisan, global portal for theatre news. The project started with the goal of bringing theatre people and theatre lovers together on one platform, particularly highlighting theatre from historically underprivileged regions and thus, hopefully, drawing attention and resources to these regions.
With more than sixty Regional Managing Editors around the world, we aim to be the most wide-reaching and comprehensive theatre news source online. In addition to our original content, The Theatre Times filters through more than eighty sources, around six hundred articles, and thousands of pages of theatre news every day.
We wanted to develop a large global platform where we can support the infrastructure, advertising, and tech issues, while our editors can have a space to share their news and build their own readership.
How is The Theatre Times changing the landscape of theatre news?
During much of the last century, Western theatre scholarship and theatre-making have been in a somewhat predatory – colonial and postcolonial – relationship with the rest of the world.
American, British, or Western European theatre scholars and artists would travel to exotic locales – Africa, Asia, South America, or Eastern Europe – to gain some, often superficial, knowledge of the local theatre ecosystem. The entire semiotic landscape of a particular culture would be subsumed to the Western understanding, processed and interpreted through the prism of Western cultural codes and canons.
It’s not to say that such a state of affairs has never led to mutually respectful relationships and collaborations, but it has created a lopsided synergy in the way that we’ve been talking about and making theatre.
Social media and digital tools provide equal access to the virtual public space for everyone, and there is no need for the Western scholars and theatre makers to serve as intercultural intermediaries. By giving a platform to local regional editors, native language speakers, and cultural insiders, The Theatre Times provides a new, twenty-first century model of intercultural exchange. Our editors and collaborators are in charge of their own stories, and they are empowered to be the interpreters of their own cultures.
Thanks to modern technology, developing such a pluralistic model of culture-sharing is no longer a pipe dream.
In what ways do you hope The Theatre Times will continue to grow?
Theatre has been always underfunded, underprivileged, and underserved. Yet, theatre is also the oldest, the most enduring, and the most adaptive and persistent of human art forms. It has been perpetually affected by shortages of all kinds, and yet, it has effectively outlived all political systems, social upheavals, technologies, wars, restrictive social mores of all sorts, bouts of censorship, bans, plagues, and economic and institutional collapses. It is this grit, inventiveness, endurance, and will to connect with your fellow human being that we want to celebrate. We want to grow based on this premise: pride in the history and accomplishments of our art form and conviction in the value of our work.
For those looking to learn more and get involved with The Theatre Times please visit: http://www.thetheatretimes.com/join/