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styles in production Peter Zadek: RADICAL STAGINGS OF SHAKESPEARE 106 Peter Zadek was born in Berlin in 1926 and emigrated to England in 1933. There he received his education as an actor and director. During 1949-59 he directed at various theatres in London (among which included the first English production of Jean Genet's The Maids and the world premiere of The Balcony) and made television films for the BBC. Since 1959 he has been directing mostly in West Germany. In the 1960-61 season in Ulm he served as Intendant under Kurt Hubner. Zadek was responsible for plays at the Stadttheater in Bremen, also under Hubner and with set designer Wilfried Minks. After that, he began directing in Stuttgart, Munich and Berlin. From 1972 to 1975 he was Intendant in Bochum, and from then on until 1977 as a member of the directorate in Bochum. Since 1977 Zadek has been making his living as a free-lance director in Hamburg. The following interview with Peter Zadek was conducted by Christian Jauslin and appeared in Shakespeare inszenieren (1977), published by the one-woman publishing firm of Ulrike Jauslin at Bottmingen near Basel. Mr. Jauslin has served as free-lance director and dramaturg for theatres in Switzerland, and currently lectures on American theatre at the University of Zurich. He has published studies on Friedrich Durrenmatt and Tennessee Williams. An interview which you gave in the 1977 yearly supplement of the magazine Theatre heute at the end of your engagement in Bochum points out-and you acknowledge it-an increasing concentration on Shakespeare in your work as a director. To start off, could you give a very general reason for this fascination? To begin with, it certainly has to do with my past and with my first, quite subjective , private experiences of the theatre. The first time that I had anything to do with the theatre was at Oxford University, and in fact with the Shakespeare productions of a rather unconventional director, Nevill Coghill, who was a well known Anglist. He had an utterly distinct directing style and did fascinating work. He strongly influenced a number of directors and actors of my generation. With him I experienced plays like Measure for Measure, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest, etc., for the first time as an actor. This work and this way of working-the freedom with which such a refined, erudite Anglist approached an author like Shakespeare and the humor with which he worked-influenced me tremendously. Then, and also thereafter in Germany, I have concerned myself very much with Shakespeare and for a long time have searched out ways which are practicable for me. Shakespeare has always signified to me the point where psychological theatre at its most refined and convincing combined with great formal freedom with an often very surreal theatre. And that is something which has absolutely stamped the English theatre since Shakespeare. Then would you say that Coghill gave a typical interpretation for England at that time? Quite certainly, although few others possessed his quality. I believe that actually all great dramatists since Shakespeare-whether it was Shaw, who often wrote polemics against Shakespeare, or whether it is now Harold Pinter-have this quality, which is very often misunderstood or misinterpreted outside the realm of Anglo-Saxon culture. That is namely a special balance between human psychology and great formal spheres, and also great spheres of thought--philosophical or metaphysical relationships. And I believe that the problem that always presents itself, particularly outside of English-speaking areas, comes with the attempt to delimit Shakespeare in one way or another. Exactly the same thing happens now-and I do not want to make a qualitative comparison-with authors like John Osborne, for instance. When he wrote a play about Luther, outside of England there was the tendency immediately to make it into a history lesson-to compare Osborne's fiction with history and stage it in the world of the Reformation. This is just as false as presenting for its own sake the fictitious, invented Luther which Osborne manufactured. Which is naturally understandable from the point of view of German tradition, if one thinks of the historical plays...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1537-9477
Print ISSN
1520-281X
Pages
pp. 106-121
Launched on MUSE
2018-01-03
Open Access
No
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