Penny Black originally studied drama at Schauspielschule Krauss in Vienna before returning to the UK and started translating. She adapted and directed YES, MY FUEHRER by Brigitte Schwaiger for the Edinburgh Festival 1993 and London 1994, which won several awards, and went on to adapt her THE GALIZIAN JEWESS for the Etcetera theatre. Since then she has translated and adapted over 40 plays for a variety of theatres such as the Royal Court, the Gate, the National Theatre, Lyric Hammersmith, Arcola Theatre as well as venues in America and Australia. 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. The authors she has translated include Peter Turrini, Sibylle Berg, Elfriede Jelinek, Peter Handke, Philipp Loehle and Jens Raschke.
Penny also works as a dramaturg: projects include ODE TO MY SISTERS, a play based on interviews with Muslim women for a UK tour in 2010: an adaptation of TOSCA’S KISS by Kenneth Jupp for Annette Niemtzow, NYC, and she worked with Simon McBurney on his MAGIC FLUTE for the DNO/ENO. She adapted Leea Klemola’s THE MAMMOTH, which was produced at the Pleasance for the Edinburgh Festival, and has just finished working with Sarah Chew on her play LILAC WINE in collaboration with the Roundhouse. She is currently adapting a novel, ABSENT, by the Scottish-Iraqi writer Betool Khedairi, to be entitled HUMAN HONEY.
Her first original play MAKING BABIES, which looks at IVF and all aspects of fertility, was produced in 2004 in Heilbronn, Germany; SUDDEN SILENCE, about the effects of stroke and the methods used in recovery, was part of a festival of new writing at the Arcola Theatre in 2009.
Penny is the current president of the Dramaturgs’ Network and is the 2017-2018 Royal Literary Fund Fellow at St Mary’s University, Twickenham.