Directors of children's and youth theatre – Marcelo Diaz


Marcelo Diaz © privat

Marcelo Diaz was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 9 March 1955.
From 1975 to 1980, he attended the Raúl Serrano Theatre School in Buenos Aires, and then trained as a director at the Theater Planeta in Buenos Aires.
In 1982, he emigrated to Germany, where he gained a foothold as a freelance director and drama teacher with his own studio in Munich.

In 1991, 1993, 1997, 1999 and 2001, Marcelo Diaz was invited to bring a production to “Augenblick mal!”, the German biennale of children’s and youth theatre in Berlin.

From 1996 to 2000, he was artistic director of the Junges Theater Zürich. When it became the Theater an der Sihl in 2000, he remained its artistic director in Zürich until 2003. In this function, he was a lecturer on acting at the Theaterhochschule Zürich from 1996 to 2003 and from 1999 onwards he was a head of department and a lecturer on directing there. He has written a number of publications on acting technique.

Today, he lectures on directing at the Escuela Superior de Arto Dramático in Valencia, Spain, and at the Cuarta Pared theatre school in Madrid, Spain. He continues to stage productions, mainly in Germany (including at venues in Dresden, Mannheim and Weimar), but also does so in Spain, Austria, Switzerland and Latin America. In autumn 2011, Marcelo Diaz will celebrate his 100th premiere as a director.


    The picture wizard – Marcelo Diaz develops the magic of poetic comedy for audiences of all ages

    Polleke is sitting all by herself in an abrasive jute spool, condensing her thoughts into four-line verses. Just a moment ago, the 11-year-old girl was being worn out by the everyday chaos of her enamoured mother and her teacher whispering sweet nothings into her mother’s ear, her breakup from her Muslim boyfriend, babysitting for her step-sister and her drug addict father’s shortage of money. But now her own poetry gives Polleke energy and a sense of direction. For a moment – then the waves of everyday life come pounding down on her again (Wir immer für alle) (We always for everyone).

    After a long journey in the ark, three penguins and a dove have still not worked out much about God, and a theatre rigging falls down. A technician appears briefly with a reconciliatory rainbow. Calmly, and with help from an actor, the technician disappears into the ceiling again (An der Arche um Acht) (By the Ark at Eight).

    Rama and Sita are seeing each other for the first time: it cuts through their bodies synchronously like a flash of lightning, then their movements form a unity over a distance of several meters on a well-filled stage. The scene’s other characters adhere to the usual rituals of a royal audience, but Rama and Sita depart from all the prescribed paths. They are already united at a distance even before the first word has passed between them (Das Lied von Rama) (Rama’s song).

    Marcelo Diaz finds images that go down deep and open up the story to the audience. In his productions, scripts are arrays of pictures, the poetic power of which thinks beyond the text. He studies theatrical communication without language and the relation of pictures to text. His wordless images say more than dialogues. The penguins’ above-mentioned philosophical discourse, for example takes on a dimension relating to the theory of theatre; Ram and Sita’s love for one another can ignore all the rules and Polleke can show the audience what she really needs.

    When Marcelo Diaz presented his first works as a director in Germany 30 years ago, they were fireworks of ideas. Over the years, Marcelo Diaz has developed his feeling for themes, for the tensions inherent in situations and visual ideas. His concern to draw on literary sources to find something of relevance to the present day now leads to clear, precise productions. “Today, I work in a more content-related way than I used to do, in a more German way in a positive sense,“ he says in an interview with a wry smile.

    Marcelo Diaz has continued to remain true to the big questions of humanity and stages them with humour for young and old. In realistic plays, he seeks the big issues in the context in hand. He brings myths and philosophical themes to life with a concreteness that ensures clarity and lightness.

    Marcelo Diaz works with visual language, sometimes departing from the text. The characters’ gestures “state” their feelings, and are more honest or wiser than their spoken words. His arrangements “say“ more clearly and in a more differentiated way than words what the power structures are like. Diaz uses the rhythm and sequences of images and scenes to the full for setting his priorities with humour. Gaps in time are presented using the technique of time lapse.

    In 1991, Marcelo Diaz stated in an interview held during the first German children’s and youth theatre meeting in Berlin: “When I stage a production for children, I think of adults. When I stage a production for adults, I think of children.“ Twenty years on, one can only assume that these ideas are what made him the master of poetic family drama.

    Anne Richter

    Productions (selection)

    John von Düffel “Gullivers Reisen” (Gulliver’s Travels)
    Premiere, 2010, Nationaltheater Weimar

    Tor Aage Bringsvaerd “Das Lied von Rama” (Rama’s Song)
    German premiere, 2010, Schnawwl am Nationaltheater Mannheim

    Laura de Weck “Lieblingsmenschen” (Favourite People)
    Premiere, 2007, Schnawwl am Nationaltheater Mannheim

    Inèz Derksen “King A”
    German-language premiere, 2005, Schnawwl am Nationaltheater Mannheim

    Playground stories by various authors “Pausen-Rehe & Platz-Hirsche” (Break-time Girls and Alpha Boys)
    Premiere, 2001, Theater an der Sihl, Zürich, Switzerland

    Suzanne van Lohuizen “Mein Vater Che Guevara” (My Father Che Guevara)
    Premiere, 2000, Theater an der Sihl, Zürich

    Max Frisch “Andorra”
    1999, carrousel Theater Berlin /ürich

    Suzanne van Lohuizen “Was ist los mit Daniela Duños?” (What’s the Matter with Daniela Duños?)
    Premiere, 1998,ürich

    Ingeborg von Zadow “Besuch bei Katt und Freda” (Visiting Katt and Freda)
    Premiere, 1997,ürich

    Katrin Lange “Das Mädchen Kiesel und der Hund” (The Girl Pebble and the Dog)
    Premiere, 1996, carrousel Theater Berlin

    Horst Hawemann “Alles frei – Stuhl besetzt” (Everything Free - Chair Taken)
    1995, carrousel Theater Berlin

    Eugen Ionesco “Die Unterrichtsstunde“ (The Lesson)
    1994, Schauburg Munich

    Tiziana Lucatini “Rote Schuhe” (Red Shoes)
    German-language premiere, 1994, carrousel Theater Berlin

    Pauline Mol “Iphigenie Königskind” (Iphigenia King’s Child)
    1993, Schauburg Munich

    After “A Dream Play” by August Strindberg “Mit Träumen spielen” (Playing with Dreams), project for four directors
    1993, Schauburg Munich

    Marcelo Diaz “Flammenpflücker” (Flame-pickers)
    Premiere, 1992 , Theater Pfütze, Nuremberg

    Peter Bichsel “Kindergeschichten” (Children’s Stories)
    German-language premiere, 1990, Landestheater Württemberg-Hohenzollern, Tübingen