Theatre Systems in German Speaking Theatres

Notes on a Fence discussion: Schauspeilhaus Graz

Marie Rotzer: Dramaturg:

Plays into Theatres

  1. 1. Author sends play to publisher (Verlag)
  2. 2. Many different Verlage divide the authors up between them, eg by nationality. Market is divided by Verlage (each doing their own thing). Henschel, for example, traditionally have Eastern European authors.
  3. 3. Publishers publish book every year in advance of theatre seasons (September-June). It contains information on new plays and their authors, including synopsis and cvs. This is sent to the theatres who will then order copies of scripts from the list, in order to properly judge them (not always possible from synopsis). Email has made this process much easier.

New Playwrights, New Premieres

  1. 1. Premieres more expensive than classic
  2. 2. Audiences especially in provinces nervous of new plays.
  3. 3. Theatres fight for new plays and new authors
  4. 4. Theatres think young authors have fingers on pulse and want to act quickly (contemporary situation and events)
  5. 5. Press – National Press pick up on new plays – want to be a part of discovering new authors, new plays
  6. 6. Different journalists, critics only small travel budget to get to premieres.

This is more usual route: author – publisher - theatre

Another route is to send your play directly to the theatre.

Large theatres, problem, too many plays to read.

Author in residence: in England this has happened for many years, and its gradually being considered within German speaking theatre. Exclusive rights to work when in residence. Financially this is expensive for small theatres but bursaries are available to help with this.

Advantage of playwright in residence: the input of writing of play but playwright has exposure to theatre practise

Try outs of plays – and rehearsed readings

Cheap way of doing it

Also festival and competiion

Public awareness of theatres, press

Downside, so many festivals and villages all have them!

Theatre Heute

1. Introduces young authors

2. Publishes plays

3. Award for bes author: title guarantees your play will be performed in lots of theatres

Part Two: How you become a writer

2.1: An author, writer, artist, genius fact

2.2 Possible to study to become a writer

2.3 Advantages: opportunitiy of being taught by well-known author and the connection between that author and the theatre created by famous author.

2.4 using this system is a good way for actors to have learning on courses.

3 years ago writers night

4 writers from ?

2 from Edith

wrote mini-dramas, played all day

Good way to get to know new authors.

Beginning of collaborative process to bring writers back inot theatres.

G Steinberg: wrote full length play

Johannes: written full length play

Partnership with unit, Steirische Herbst very good

Process of working together. Theatre helps to guide play, make cuts etc

Ongoing working process is going to continue. The artist continuitng and ongoing collaoration very important.

Cheap way of doing it

Also festival and competiion

Public awareness of theatres, press

Downside, so many festivals and villages all have them!

Theatre Heute

1. Introduces young authors

2. Publishes plays

3. Award for best author: title guarantees your play will be performed in lots of theatres

Part Three: A good play for German Theatre

When you are writing about yourself own social reality, own view of the world.

More honest you are, the greater the chance theatre makers and audience believe in your work.

Trend and longing is for story which is about people in contemporary situation

Not well made conventional writing or form

Expectation of audiences have changed film and TV have influenced this: short snappy scenes.

Audiences long for social realism: unemployment, disorientation, theatres ant to represent this.

4. National Tendencies

Themes are timeless – not specific in same way

Huge themes that are same: love, pain, aggression, violence

Of course important is individual versus Society.


Linda Brogan: How do you know what your audience want?

Difficult question. You can feel gradually if you’re in the same theatre for the long time: eg. Audience in Graz like emotional plays, less Muller and Brecht, more Schnitzler or Shakespeare

Lucas Bereforce – Sexual Neurosis of my Parents about girl backwards breaking sexual taboos. Successful here because of her emotional play people liked it.

I didn’t know it – wonderful play.

Alan Lane: What make up is the core audience?

Audience are educated middle class audience. Battle to get younger students etc.

Alan Lane: Anything specific strategies?

Young actors, directors are younger, powerful way of making theatre

Riitta Seppela: Do Contemporary Plays make it onto the big stage?

20 performances if successful on big stage. Small stage 30.

Mahlgozarta Semil: How do you combine directors’ theatre and taking care of new playwrights?

Thing about directors theatre is looking at where theatre has come from.

True. German directors have interpretive approach to text

Classical authors are unprotected

Premieres –protection of text by publishers

Entire text as written

Q: Is there a collision between writers and directors?

A; Yes, that’s why dramaturg so imporatn. Sits between author and director.

With premiere text you start to discover places in rehearsal which are redundant.

Relationship between author and theatre develop.

Q: Is there a new writing theatre in Austria?

A: No but big theatres have an interest

Q: do you think there should be?

A: Tendency is going to author in residence. But don’t know if we have possibility to have a complete emphasis authors theatre.

Q: Fringe groups – author led – is this still happening?

A: It system in Switzerland, subsidised theatre but also also give sponsorship

But this text rarely goes to publishers. So not seen as part of mainstream focus is more physical.

Fringe groups subsidised.

Q: How many openings how many new plays?

10 big, 6 small

Q: How many contemporary Austrian plays:

Usually one, but not dogmatic

Q: Does a playwright in Austria make living?

Depends. You can live from writing but writes novels also

Bernhard Stuttler – translated Andrei’s play

I tried to live off theatre and can for three yesr: translations, novel. Catalge but focus

Studied in Berlin

Edith: Scholarships and prizes, if you are successful you can earn money

I have to convince the AD

Q: Why is it important to have new writing theatre in Austria?

Tradional Audience max 20% of th epopulation< these people want to see what they know.

Q: General still no clear how plays get developed yet, is there relationship with university? Small productions? Readings?

A to a small extend, theatres are trying to bind authors. We simply don’t have authors theatre

Q: Uni-T doing programme

Not sure I fit’s best to have education

Q: Not necessarily teaching way to write a good play – more forum for writer. Went to see devised play by company

20-25 new writers now – support each other, develop on their own.

Needs more input

Lots of workshops now

Situation must be better than 10 years ago.

Q: How successful are new plays and new writers?

A: Depends on themes, what new author Writers at Mundic Nation Johannes Shcrteell: Dein Projekt Leib Dich: Ironic, humous play director used videa etc, supported humour. People liked it so very successful/

Q: Marlghorzata: Classics unprotected, local playwight protected for playwriting?

A: Protected by publisher. Can’t make too many cuts.

Q: Translator involved?

A: Usually not.

Q: It feels that there is an emerging new writing culture in Graz? What other elements are needed to help grow and develop that culture?

A: Education: how to get audience in in general. Lots of work about how to bring people in. Young people, theatres competes with ots of stuff, have to try to get these people. Contemporary plays, it’s still very difficult. Austirans are very conservative. Honour to have new plays in the programme. 3 or 4 world premiers, but it’s a risk.

Q: Oliver: Have play in Vienna, audience was very young, seeing that work. It’s interesting when I talk to audiences there is hunger for that writing something for them.

A; you have networking of teachers there. If teachers excitied.

Q: Is there all education department?

Have a teacher who goes round. Audience development – do you explain what you’re doing? Went to school but was ery hard to organise. Schools work 8am – 2pm. Offered post show discussion.

Alan: Same companies in the UK. Under 26 deal.

Q: Alex: Able to develop regional writers. Audience development followed the plays. Complete unknown not great audience. Investment in work led to audience. Maybe the playwright is th eperson who tells story around a regional tribe.

Q: Jackie: dramaturg in rehearsal? Is playwright there?\

A: Depends. Not all time because don’t want ot feel too close maybe. Johannes didn’t want to. Always lots of reasons.

Q: When author dead is dramaturg still author’s agent?

A: Complicated – why do we want to peform this play now? Big plays need cutting but each word is important, so cutting it is 1st move towards interpretation. Conversation between dramaturg and director.

Q: So skills are needed not just directors?

A: Sometimes director cuts and dramaturg check it. Once dramaturh and director are team they do and work together on text.

In best cases a dramaturg is person with all information and is interllectual policeman to play. High sensibility of working gin this way. Sometimes big rows.

Coversation at the moment between director theatre and loyalty to the text.

How far should director deconstruct text?

Recently directed grabbed critic because he could see th critic didn’t belie in theatre that wasn’t loyal to the text.

Famous director in berlin who pionners deconstruction

We have production of Macbeth which split the audience. Naked actors, conversed in blood, lady Macbeth is man with little eapron. If actors only are doing it because director says yu can it in audience.

Q: Andreas: When it comes to contemporary playwrights do you have othe rlanguage productions?

A: France (contemporary?), Simon Stephens (English), Bukowski

Not many which aren’t English, German

Q: You are moving to Somewhere else?

Me and 2 dramaturgs and actors and artistic director. Whole team moving! Work real trust in misu. I am planning how things with contemporary authors an dbring in authrogs and ave wnidows on world. British, Swedish, more international authors.

Q; where do Austrian authors come from?

A: Aistria dramaturgs don’t writer, actors and directors don’t write generally, more and more dramatic writers.

Want to bea writern. Then why not a playwighrt.

Riittaa: In finland, theatre schools, 60 premiers, each year. Everyone at theatre school writers plays and professional actors at theatre school. How maintain originality through training? Depends on nature of training training supports.