• Sun. Sep 26th, 2021

New artistic director at berlin’s volksbuhne: restoration of the biotope east


Jul 13, 2021

Cultural Senator Klaus Lederer appoints Rene Pollesch as the new director of the Volksbuhne from the 2020/21 season. Is that right? A weekly commentary.

Rene Pollesch will be the new director of the Berlin Volksbuhne Photo: dpa

The spectacle machine that is the Volksbuhne runs and runs and runs, even two years after the involuntary departure of long-term director Frank Castorf. This is also due to the fact that it is fed in a proven manner, and that all others somehow involved show the classic reflexes.

But from the beginning. On Wednesday, Culture Senator Klaus Lederer (Left Party) introduced the future artistic director of the Buhne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in East Berlin (the East is important, more on that later): Rene Pollesch. He is a child of the house: His productions in the early 2000s at the side stage Prater caused a furor and even made him internationally known. With his short, word-heavy, often biting, always self-penned and sometimes even entertaining plays, he became an audience favorite at the Volksbuhne and worked there regularly until Castorf’s departure.

So one might think that the Senator for Culture is playing it safe with Pollesch’s appointment starting with the 2020/21 season. After all, Castorf’s original successor, Chris Dercon, was eyed suspiciously by fans of the stage (and by Lederer himself) from the start – to put it mildly. Dercon wanted to expand the theater’s portfolio with big-name guest performances and spaces. He failed with it across the board. In the meantime, a performance group occupied the house in protest against Dercon. In April 2018, just a few months after his official start as artistic director, Dercon either resigned or Lederer fired him – both interpretations are correct.

Accordingly, many fans of the Volksbuhne rejoiced when Pollesch’s personnel became known. At last, they hoped, there would be reliable theater again that was off the beaten track, politically charged, and with an impact far beyond Berlin.

Stars of the Castorf era return

All those, on the other hand, for whom the Castorf hype had recently become too thick, are now hammering away: Lederer, according to the tenor, wants to turn back the (robber) wheel of time, with Pollesch, who also announced on Wednesday that he would bring back many of the stars of the Castorf era to the ensemble with the actors Martin Wuttke, Kathrin Angerer and Fabian Hinrichs. Restoration of the biotope East, of which the Volksbuhne was considered an integral part, instead of a departure into new theater worlds.

The Senator for Culture plays it safe with Pollesch’s appointment.

Indeed, Lederer has to ask himself whether he could not have promoted a woman to this relevant position. Berlin’s state theaters still have some catching up to do.

But whether the program at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz will be reloaded with Pollesch Osten – that remains to be seen. This sounds banal at first, but it is especially true for the Volksbuhne. Here, everyone seems to know everything in advance, better and in general.

Pollesch, too, will have to make sure that things run smoothly – however that may be. And so far, he can’t be said to have been bored with his work.

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