Penny Black

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Penny Black studied drama at Schauspielschule Krauss in Vienna and started her writing career translating and adapting YES, MY FUEHRER and THE GALIZIAN JEWESS from the novels by Brigitte Schwaiger for the Edinburgh Festival 1993. Since then she has translated and adapted over 40 plays for theatres such as the Royal Court, the Gate, the National Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith and Arcola Theatre.  Her translation of VENEZUELA by Guy Helminger is taught on the MRes in Playwriting Studies at Birmingham University. Her translation of Nobel-prize-winner Elfriede Jelinek’s SPORTSPLAY toured the UK in 2012 and was chosen as a Cultural Olympic Pop-Up event.


Her first original play MAKING BABIES premiered in German in 2004 in Heilbronn, Germany; SUDDEN SILENCE at a festival at the Arcola Theatre in 2009. In 2018 she was commissioned by the Belvedere Museum in Vienna to write about Klimt’s friend Emilie Flöge for the actress Maxi Blaha: BELOVED MUSE was performed at the Belvedere Museum in German and the English-language version toured to Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, Japan, France and Great Britain. Again for Maxi Blaha she has just completed ALMA, about Alma Mahler, which premieres in autumn 2020.

Penny is currently writing a one-person show about an interesting four-week period in Noël Coward’s life, and on an adaption of the novel ABSENT by the Scottish-Iraqi writer Betool Khedairi - for one actress plus projection and puppetry. BETWEEN TWO WORLDS, her play for Peracals Productions based on the book THE GIFT OF ALZHEIMERS, will open in the UK in the autumn of 2021.

As dramaturg her projects include ODE TO MY SISTERS, a play based on interviews with Muslim women, AVALANCHE for the Barbican, with Simon McBurney on his MAGIC FLUTE for the DNO/ENO, and Sarah Chew on her play LIPSTICK – A FAIRYTALE OF IRAN in collaboration with the Roundhouse.

Penny was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow from 2015 – 2018, and president of the Dramaturgs’ Network 2015-2016.