Researching Regietheater: The work of German director Thomas Ostermeier at Schaubühne Berlin

Orchard Learning Resource Centre (OLRC)
Friday 20 May 2016 (16:30-17:30)

Eleftheria Ioannidou:

  • Critical and creative encounters

Speaker: Peter M Boenisch (Professor of European Theatre, University of Kent)

This lecture offers an inside view into my ongoing research collaboration with the German theatre director Thomas Ostermeier and our joint interrogation of contemporary directing methods. Discussing some of the work that led to our collaboratively authored new book The Theatre of Thomas Ostermeier (Routledge 2016), I also shall explore how this engagement with ongoing professional theatre-work at Ostermeier’s Berlin Schaubühne informed and refined my own theoretical understanding of Regie, as outlined in my monograph Directing Scenes and Senses: The Thinking of Regie (Manchester University Pres 2015). Departing from Ostermeier’s recent production of Shakespeare’s Richard III (2015), which I was able to observe throughout its planning and rehearsal stages, the lecture will propose a wider conceptual approach to the Regie-work of a number of contemporary German theatre directors (and, more widely, Continental European theatre-makers, such as Flemish director Ivo van Hove). No longer radically critiquing and deconstructing canonical playtexts in the tradition of 1960’s Regietheater, their work offers what I have described as ‘dialectic’ directorial take. From this (post-)postdramatic perspective, this understanding of their work seeks to overcome some of the unproductive clichés that at times tend to dominate academic discussions of ‘directors’ theatre’, such as the notion of the director as ‘auteur’, and the assumed antinomy of playtext and production. Along the way, I will also highlight some issues of research methodology that emerged in this joint venture of a theatre artist and an academic, and its different challenges compared to more established practice-based research, or the pure analytical critique of an artist’s work.

Peter M Boenisch is Professor of European Theatre at the University of Kent and a Fellow of the Berlin-based International Research College ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’. His primary interest is in the intersections between aesthetics and politics in contemporary theatre, inspired by the critical philosophy of Slavoj Žižek, Fredric Jameson, Jacques Rancière and others. His research areas are the fields of directing, dramaturgy, and contemporary dance, with a particular focus on the German- and Dutch-speaking European countries. His books include Directing Scenes and Senses: The thinking of Regie (Manchester UP 2015), and The Theatre of Thomas Ostermeier, which he co-authored with Ostermeier (Routledge 2016). With Rachel Fensham, he is co-editor of the Palgrave book series New World Choreographies.

Venue: Orchard Learning Resource Centre, Selly Oak

All welcome, no booking required.