Karl-Ernst Herrmann

Ursula und Karl-Ernst
Herrmann, © private
Karl-Ernst Herrmann was born in 1936 in Neukirch in the Oberlausitz. He studied at the Berlin College for the Fine Arts, attending Willi Schmidt’s class for stage design. He received his first engagement at the Stadttheater in Ulm under the general director Kurt Hübner. In 1962, Hermann moved to the Theatre of the Free Hansa State Bremen, where he became acquainted with Peter Stein. From 1969 to 1970, he was head of the stage design department at the Staatstheater Braunschweig; here he met the directors Claus Peymann and Niels-Peter Rudolph. As a free-lance stage and costume designer, he has been engaged at the Munich Kammerspiele, the Freie Volksbühne Berlin, the Recklinghauser Ruhr Festival, the Stadttheatern Kiel and Kassel, and the Hamburg Schauspielhaus

In 1971, Peter Stein fetched Hermann to the Berlin and the Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufer. Here he was decisively co-responsible for the theatre’s great success. Hermann has long been looked upon as the Schaubühne’s formative stage designer. He has several times been named Stage Designer of the Year by the critics’ poll of the professional journal Theater Heute. In 1989, he and Peter Stein were jointly awarded the Berlin Theatre Prize.

Along with Peter Stein, Claus Peymann has been Hermann’s most frequent director-partner. At the Salzberg Festival, Hermann has designed the stages for all the premiers of Thomas Bernhard’s plays. The intense collaboration with Peymann continued from 1974 to 1980 at the Württembergisches Staatsschauspiel, from 1980 to 1985 at the Bochumer Ensemble, and from 1986 to 2000 at the Vienna Burhtheater. At the last, Hermann also worked with the directors Niels-Peter Rudolph, Christof Nel, Dieter Giesing and George Tabori.

In 1982, Hermann began his career as opera director at the Brussels Théâtre de la Monnaie. In his opera productions, he always works together with his wife Ursel and designs the stage, the costumes and the lighting himself. Hermann has produced further operas at the Vienna Festwochen, the Salzburg Festival, the Vienna Staatsoper, the Staatsoper Unter den Linden in Berlin, and the Nederlandse Opera Amsterdam.

In addition to his own work as director, Hermann continues to do stage designs for Stein’s opera productions in Cardiff and Amsterdam, for Thomas Langhoff’s and Luc Bondy’s productions at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, for Matthias Hartmann’s productions at the Munich Residenztheater, the Bochum Schauspielhaus and the Zurich Schauspielhaus, and for Peymann, now at the Berliner Ensemble.

From 1994 to 2000, Karl-Ernst and Ursel Hermann were appointed directors of the class for stage design at the Munich Academy of the Fine Arts.