Elizabeth Dinkova named new Spooky Action Theater artistic director

Her first project with the company will be a week-long developmental workshop of 'Syrena,' a haunting mermaid tale set in a refugee detention center.

Spooky Action Theater begins its next phase of bringing dynamic and thought-provoking theater to the Washington, DC, region with the announcement of the hiring of Elizabeth Dinkova as the theater’s new Artistic Director. Spooky Action Theater performs at The Universalist National Memorial Church, 1810 16th Street, NW.

Dinkova comes to Washington from Atlanta’s 7 Stages Theatre, a hub for boundary-pushing international theater, where she was an Associate Artistic Director until 2022. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, a former artistic apprentice at DC’s Studio Theatre, and an alum of the Alliance Theatre’s Artistic Leadership fellowship. Locally, in addition to her time at Studio, she has participated in the Source Theatre Festival and directed for Spooky Action’s New Works in Action program.

Elizabeth Dinkova

“As Spooky Action Theater has demonstrated for nearly 20 years, by congregating in an intimate space and harnessing the power of audience and creators’ imaginations, we can spin magic,” says Dinkova. “As an immigrant artist, I can’t wait to nurture the unique enchantment that emerges when people meet through theater at a crossroads such as DC: of nationalities, cultures, experiences, and art forms. I will work tirelessly to make Spooky Action a home for passion projects, urgent conversations, bold aesthetics, and global vision, as we harness the power of theater to forge intimate, deeply entangled connections.”

A search committee consisting of the Spooky Action Board of Directors and Interim Artistic Director Gavin Witt, who has been working with the theater since September to lead the transition with theater staff, conducted a four-month nationwide search. “We met with many terrific candidates throughout our search process,” said search committee and board of directors chairperson Floyd L. Norton. “Elizabeth understands our mission: to create an active collaboration of the imagination between actors and audience through emotionally complex plays from many cultures and perspectives.  Her talents and experience seem perfectly suited to our effort.”

Witt noted, “I have known Elizabeth Dinkova for some years now and followed her career with great interest, so imagine my absolute delight when she joined a stellar pool of fascinating candidates to become the new artistic director of Spooky Action Theater.” He added, “As a multi-discipline theater artist, her work reflects a bold, imaginative aesthetic grounded in smart, well-crafted writing and the meaningful, ‘spooky’ entanglement of artists and audiences; as an immigrant, she brings a uniquely global perspective to the global community of Washington’s arts community; and her creative, collaborative, inclusive, thoughtful, and deeply humane approach to her craft truly represents the heart of where theater is heading. I can’t imagine a better or more thrilling fit to help lead Spooky Action into its next chapter—and to make a stirring contribution to our field and our communities.”

Dinkova’s colleague David Muse, Artistic Director of Studio Theatre added, “Beth is a real artist: passionate, idiosyncratic, open-hearted. And she’s an all-around swell person. I’m excited to have her back in DC and to see what she does at Spooky Action.”

Elizabeth Dinkova
 (she/her/hers) is a Bulgarian itinerant director, adaptor, and collaborative creator who explores alternative realities at the intersection of theater, film, and music in pursuit of communal transformation. In 2021-22, she was an Associate Artistic Director of 7 Stages Theatre, Atlanta’s hub for boundary-pushing international theater. She is an alum of the Alliance Theatre’s Artistic Leadership fellowship, the Studio Theatre’s Artistic Apprenticeship, and a recent graduate from the MFA Directing program at the Yale School of Drama, where she served as a Co-Artistic Director of the Yale Summer Cabaret and received the Julian Milton Kaufman prize for Directing. Recent projects include the film Cracking Zeus by Christopher Hampton for the Alliance’s Digital Theater Channel, the visual album TIT, inspired by Titus Andronicus and co-written with Jesse Rasmussen, at the NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival, Rage, a play with music adapted from Stephen King, at Quinnipiac University, The Seagull at Serenbe Playhouse, and the opera Orfeo ed Euridice at Bel Cantanti Opera Company. Elizabeth has taught acting, directing, devising, and musical theater at the Toronto Metropolitan University, University of California Riverside, Quinnipiac University, and Queens College CUNY.

Dinkova’s first project with the company will be a week-long developmental workshop of a new stage adaptation from an original screenplay entitled Syrena, a haunting mermaid tale set in a refugee detention center. For the development process, while working with a company of local performers, the artistic team has also informed the story through conversations with women from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities who have sought asylum; and built partnerships with refugee businesses, service organizations, and experts to promote ethical collaboration in storytelling, direct attention toward these organizations’ work, and share resources.

Spooky Action Theater hires Gavin Witt as Richard Henrich retires (news story, September 23, 2022)


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