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Exposing the classics: Michael Thalheimer's Regie beyond the text

Boenisch, PM (2008) Exposing the classics: Michael Thalheimer's Regie beyond the text Contemporary Theatre Review, 18 (1). pp. 30-43.

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Within half a decade, the trained actor Michael Thalheimer (b. 1965, Frankfurt, Main) has become a celebrated (and controversial) shooting star of German theatre, rising from an insider's tip directing in the regions to be appointed Artistic Co-Director of Deutsches Theater Berlin in 2005. His productions of classics, such as Lessing's Emilia Galotti (in repertoire since 2001), have also been shown abroad and won numerous national and international theatre prizes. This essay argues that Thalheimer reappropriates the heritage of the dramatic canon, positioning his work both against an earlier generation of Regietheater (personified by Peter Stein in the 1970s) and equally against the playful deconstruction of classics that had prevailed in the 1990s. The directorial approach and strategies behind his unique and immediately identifiable trademark of almost static, yet highly explosive stylization will then be exemplified by analysing in some detail his productions of Emilia Galotti and the two parts of Goethe's Faust. Thalheimer maintains that being truthful to the play, and the playwright, for him has nothing to do with minutely representing the written text. Instead, he looks for the essence of each play in the anger, rage, and outcry it contains. I will describe his approach of unearthing the emotional and energetic score of a play as 'ex-position' of the text (rather than its interpretation, or representation), which displaces verbal semantics by an experiential economy constituted through spaces, rhythms, and bodies, which eventually spills over the stage and fully integrates the spectators in its effect.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Date : 1 December 2008
DOI : 10.1080/10486800701741477
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 16 May 2017 15:18
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 14:19

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