René Pollesch, maverick pioneer of “discourse theatre”, mixing pop with essential concept, and director of Berlin’s influential Volksbühne, has died aged 61, his theatre has introduced.

“With dismay and deep disappointment we should announce that the writer and director René Pollesch died all of the sudden and unexpectedly within the morning of 26 February 2024,” mentioned a spokesperson for the Volksbühne, which Pollesch had led since 2021. No reason for loss of life has been named.

Hesse-born Pollesch was one of the vital outstanding practitioners of the “post-dramatic strategy” to the dramatic arts that took maintain of the largest levels within the German-speaking world on the flip of the millennium, and one of many few who managed to make the style genuinely widespread.

A number of of greater than 200 performs that Pollesch wrote and retained the unique rights to direct – with aphoristic titles corresponding to Love Is Colder Than Capital and Solidarity Is Suicide – have been sell-out hits regardless of their sledgehammer strategy to theatrical conventions, drawing younger crowds which may beforehand have been extra at dwelling at live shows or nightclubs.

A staging of Pollesch’s Artwork Was A lot Extra Common When You Weren’t Artists! … on the Volksbühne, Berlin, in 2011. {Photograph}: Ullstein Bild/Getty Photos

Allotting with plot, dialogue, scenes and even the concept a single actor would personify the identical character over the course of a play, a typical Pollesch present would contain performers clowning across the stage whereas citing Theodor Adorno, Donna Haraway or Giorgio Agamben, earlier than breaking out right into a rendition of the Seaside Boys’ Good Vibrations or Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me to the Moon.

Theatre to him was not about literature, Pollesch advised Der Spiegel in 2005, however attempting to stage on a regular basis issues and reflecting on them philosophically. “Participating with concept helps to organise your experiences”, he mentioned. “It’s not about making sense of the whole lot.”

Postmodern in its use of cut-and-paste methods and love of popular culture, his theatre nonetheless centred on actual social points, corresponding to city gentrification and precarious working situations, gender id and sexual exploitation.

Born to a caretaker father within the city of Friedberg, Hesse, Pollesch studied Utilized Theatre Science on the College of Giessen earlier than becoming a member of the Volksbühne in 2001 to guide its off-site venue, Prater, till 2007.

Pollesch’s play Strepitolino on the Prater stage in 2006. {Photograph}: Ullstein Bild/Getty Photos

After placing on performs at a number of levels throughout Germany, he returned to the Volksbühne as director in 2021. His appointment was seen as an try to regular the theatre after a turbulent interval that had seen Belgian director Chris Dercon pushed out over fears that he might take the stage in a extra business path, and his interim successor Klaus Dörr resign over a #MeToo-style scandal (Dörr later managed to defend himself in court docket towards one of many reported allegations).

Off-stage drama continued to play an element throughout his tenure: final 12 months, an artist collective referred to as Mud to Glitter staged protests on the Volksbühne, accusing Pollesch of reneging on guarantees to invert the theatre’s top-down buildings.

Pollesch continued to put in writing and stage his personal performs. His most up-to-date, a meditation on psychological exhaustion within the time of pandemics, local weather change and world wars referred to as Sure, Nothing Is OK, premiered earlier this month.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here