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MacDowell Grants Romanska Fellowship to Develop Stephen Hawking Play

Magda Romanska head shot
Professor Magda Romanska

Performing Arts Professor Magda Romanska was awarded a MacDowell Fellowship to expand and complete her play, The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking.

Based on Goethe’s Dr. Faustus, the play has the English physicist make a bargain with the devil: In exchange for unlocking the mysteries of the universe, he must give up the use of his body. Romanska said she will use her fellowship to develop the short play into a full-length stage play.

“The style of the play is influenced by the works of Adrienne Kennedy, Heiner Mueller, and Gertrude Stein,” Romanska told Emerson Today. “The text is a collage of passages from Hawking, his public statements, science books, press, media, internet comments, and various religious texts.”

The show was developed at the Lark Theatre workshop in winter 2021 through the Apothetae at Lark Playwriting Fellowship, which supports new work by artists with disabilities, and promotes plays that challenge the underrepresentation and misrepresentation of people with disabilities within our culture.

A short, 10-minute version of the play was created for Zoom at the Roundabout Theatre for the Spring 2021 Reverb Festival, and in May 2022, it was read in Queens, New York as part of the Forward Festival for the Arts.

In reviewing the online adaptation of the play in April 2021, called The Life and Times of Stephen Hawking, “a complex and eerily magnetic offering.”

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