Kwame Kwei-Armah is a British actor, playwright, director, and singer. Currently Artistic Director of the Young Vic theatre in London, his career has spanned three decades including five years as a regular cast member of the popular British drama Casualty. A prolific playwright, fourteen of his plays have been produced, including the widely praised Elmina’s Kitchen (2003). He has directed new work alongside the classics of English theatre. He was awarded an OBE for his services to drama in 2012.
In this interview Kwei-Armah talks about his route to becoming Artistic Director at The Young Vic and how he sees this role as curating a space for the telling of stories that he wants to share. He sees his role as combining artistic vision with an understanding of the ‘fiscal parameters’ of theatre. He explains how he relies on a sense of spiritual energy, African aesthetics, and movement in his directing of plays. Kwei-Armah talks in detail about his dedication to making theatre accessible to those who feel that theatre is not for them. Watch the video to learn how he thinks about the audience, how the demand for transparency will impact theatre-making in the future. He also talks about how the ideas of Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey inspired him to write plays. He offers crucial lessons to aspiring playwrights and directors about the importance of refining your gift and contributing to society.