Frank Castorf

Berlin's Shockmeister Rattles Vienna

Oh no! Not another Frank Castorf play!
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    When Frank Castorf steps down in 2017 he will enter the pantheon of German theater greats.

  • Facts


    • The Volksbühne Theatre opened in 1914 and was designed to bring artistic performances to the masses.
    • It has since become renowned for its edgy, experimental plays.
    • Frank Castorf has been its director since 1992 and is widely acknowledged as a driving force in German theater.
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There’s no reason to worry about the future of Berlin’s Volksbühne theatre, even though its long-time artistic director, Frank Castorf, will leave in 2017 and his successor Chris Dercon, currently the director of the Tate Modern Gallery in London, may be hatching plans to change things.

The influence of the Volksbühne, opened in 1914 as a theater for the common man and now famed for its experimental performances, has reached beyond Berlin’s city limits.

Over three consecutive nights in the Vienna Festival Week, Mr. Castorf’s style and ideas were visible in every performance. On the opening night, he produced Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov. Vienna’s critics were enthusiastic. On the second night, his former key actor Martin Wuttke played the lead in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman. The critics went wild.

On night three, at the Burgtheater, Austria’s National Theatre, Carl Hegemann, Frank Castrof’s companion of many years, was the theatrical researcher, for Sophocles’ Antigone.

Years ago, Mr. Hegemann said that whatever the Volksbühne is doing today, other theaters are copying tomorrow. And of course, he’s right.

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