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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.


Film 1: What do you do and how did you get here?
Film 2: What did you study and what was your journey?
Film 3 : Artistic Director is a great job title but what does it mean?
Film 4: How did you become involved in the project 'Tree'?
Film 5 : What has influenced your directing style?
Film 6 : Could you outline your process, from choosing a script to opening night
Film 7: Does the process differ depending on whether you wrote the play or it was written by someone else?
Film 8: Who did you make 'Tree' for?
Film 9: How do you reflect this mindset in the production?
Film 10: Do you consider the audience's experience in your directing process?
Film 11: What do you look for in potential collaborators?
Film 12: What are your thoughts on dramaturgy and non-western storytelling structures?
Film 13: How have you been affected by the COVID pandemic?
Film 14: What do you think the future of the performing arts industry will look like?
Film 15: What has this period allowed you to reflect upon?
Film 16 : What has been the impact of race, and racism, on black people working in the theatre world?
Film 17: How should that world change?
Film 18: What valuable lessons have you learnt in your career?
Film 19: Parting words


Film 1: Introductions
Film 2: What inspired you to become a playwright and what is the motivation for keeping at it?
Film 3: What type of mindset do you need to be a playwright?
Film 4: What is your process for writing a play?
Film 5 : What is the purpose of drama?
Film 6 : What kind of stories should we be telling as African writers in the Diaspora?
Film 7: What are your storytelling rules?
Film 8: What is characterisation?
Film 9: What are the essential ingredients of a plot?
Film 10: What methods do you use in structuring plot?
Film 11: How have you dealt with the negative perception of African theatre in your career?
Film 12: What is the secret to writing great dialogue?
Film 13: What is your writing process?
Film 14: Is a playwright's job to entertain the audience?
Film 15: Parting Words