The Theatre of Thomas Ostermeier: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Theatre of Thomas Ostermeier

1st Edition

By Peter M Boenisch, Thomas Ostermeier


262 pages

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Paperback: 9781138914476
pub: 2016-05-09
Hardback: 9781138914469
pub: 2016-05-09
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pub: 2016-05-05
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Thomas Ostermeier is the most internationally recognised German theatre director of the present. With this book, he presents his directorial method for the first time. The Theatre of Thomas Ostermeier provides a toolkit for understanding and enacting the strategies of his advanced contemporary approach to staging dramatic texts. In addition, the book includes:

  • Ostermeier’s seminal essays, lectures and manifestos translated into English for the first time.
  • Over 140 photos from the archive of Arno Declair, who has documented Ostermeier’s work at the Schaubühne Berlin for many years, and by others.
  • In-depth ‘casebook’ studies of two of his productions: Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People (2012) and Shakespeare’s Richard III (2015)
  • Contributions from Ostermeier’s actors and his closest collaborators to show how his principles are put into practice.

An extraordinary, richly illustrated insight into Ostermeier’s working methods, this volume will be of interest to practitioners and scholars of contemporary European theatre alike.


"Essential - Well illustrated and expertly assembled, this volume deserves to be widely read by all interested in contemporary theater practice."

- Choice

"Those wishing to study, and particularly to teach, the work of the best-known mainland European director to English audiences will find their task is made much easier by this volume, which is richly varied and will be accessible to students at all levels."

- New Theatre Quarterly

"Boenisch and Ostermeier have done artistic and scholarly communities a service with this volume."

- Contemporary Theatre Review

Table of Contents



Preface by Simon McBurney

Chapter 1) Playing with the R(ealism) effect: An introduction to Thomas Ostermeier’s theatre work.

Chapter 2) Ostermeier writings[1]: Towards a new realism.

2.1. Theatre in the age of its acceleration (1999).

2.2 Insights into the reality of human community: A defence of realism in theatre (2009).

Chapter 3) Making theatre with Thomas Ostermeier.

3.1 Creating stage spaces like it is not possible anywhere else: Jan Pappelbaum on twenty years of inventing spaces for Thomas Ostermeier

3.2 Revealing truths about human existence: Lars Eidinger on 'acting Ostermeier'

3.3 A whole new world to explore: Sébastien Dupouey on his video artworks for Thomas Ostermeier’s theatre

Colour plate section I

Chapter 4) Ostermeier writings [2]: ‘It’s us’: Ibsen’s plays and contemporary worries

4.1 Theatre against Fear: Thomas Ostermeier in conversation with Àlex Rigola (2006).

4.2 Reading and staging Ibsen (2010).

Chapter 5) Ostermeier at work [1]: An Enemy of the People (2012).

5.1 The dramaturg’s work: Florian Borchmeyer

5.2 The actors’ work: The path towards An Enemy of the People.

5.3 Ein Volksfeind around the world: The actors’ diary.

5.4 The artist’s work: Katharina Ziemke.

5.5 The assistant’s work: Christoph Schletz.

Chapter 6) Ostermeier on directing.

6.1 The art of communicating: Thomas Ostermeier’s ‘inductive method’ of Regie.

6.2 A postscript on directing postdramatic theatre. And Shakespeare.

Colour plate section II

Chapter 7) Ostermeier at work [2]: Richard III (2015).

7.1 Totus mundus agit histrionem: Reading and staging Shakespeare (2014).

7.2 Preparing Richard III: The longing for the disavowed abyss (September 2014).

7.3 Rehearsing Richard III: A Diary (September 2014 to February 2015).

7.4 After Richard: Mission ‘Ensemble Acting’ (June 2015).

Chapter 8) Ostermeier writings [III]: The politics of contemporary theatre.

8.1 ‘The more political we are, the better we sell’: A conversation about the political potential of directing classical drama and the nasty traps of today’s cultural industry (2014).

8.2 The future of theatre (2013).

Chapter 9) Thomas Ostermeier: Work, 1994 - 2015.

9.2 Sources of the texts in this volume

About the Authors


Peter M Boenisch, originally from Munich/Germany, is Professor of European Theatre at the University of Kent, and a Fellow at the International Research Centre "Interweaving Performance Cultures" at Berlin.

Thomas Ostermeier is an internationally renowned theatre director, best known for his acclaimed productions of Hedda Gabler, Shopping and Fucking, and Hamlet. Since 2000, he has been Artistic Director of the Schaubühne Berlin. He became the youngest ever recipient of the Golden Lion award for his lifework at the 2011 Venice Biennial.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
DRAMA / Continental European
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / General
PERFORMING ARTS / Theater / History & Criticism