Felicitas Brucker

© Mülheimer

She was born in Stuttgart on 7 November 1974. From 1995 to 2001, she read Theatre Studies, Communication Studies and Modern German Literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, completing a masters degree. This was followed by a post-graduate scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Association, which enabled her to study Directing at Goldsmiths College at the University of London. She stayed in London until 2003, creating her first own projects.

From 2003 to 2006, she assisted directors Andreas Kriegenburg and Jossi Wieler at the Munich Kammerspiele in a number of productions. At the same time, she was directing her first own pieces in Germany. As well as productions at the Munich Kammerspiele, these included productions at the Theater Freiburg, schauspielhannover, the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and the Thalia Theatre in Hamburg.

In 2007, Felicitas Brucker received the Art Award of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin in the Performance Art category. The same year, she was invited to perform at the young directors' festival Radikal Jung at the Munich Kammerspiele with her production of Anja Hilling's Engel (Angels).

Since the 2009/10 season, Felicitas Brucker has been in-house director at the Schauspielhaus in Vienna. She also works regularly at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin.

    Portrait: Brucker, Felicitas

    Felicitas Brucker is one of the most distinctive German directors of the younger generation. Her work combines powerful images and very physical acting with an analytical approach to texts, reflecting the scholar in her, in the best sense of the word. Brucker read Literature, Theatre Studies and Communication Studies before devoting herself to directing. Sight-reading is not part of her stage-management repertoire. Instead, she subjects her texts to a precise analysis regarding their structure, internal logic and contemporary relevance, re-accentuating characters that seem problematical to her from this point of view and always developing a clear working hypothesis on the material. Consequently, Brucker is also no illustrating director who duplicates texts in a performative genre. Rather, her production method may be described as a true feat of translation where realistic events are condensed into abstract scenic processes with a symbolic character, and she often likes to add an additional level using video.

    This approach may be clearly observed in Wahlverwandtschaften (Elected Infinities), for example, which Felicitas Brucker staged at Theater Freiburg in her own stage version in 2006. She interpreted Goethe’s novel of double adultery as a contemporary drama of passion, with H&M chic and bouts of bulimia. Charlotte is expecting a child by her husband Eduard, although both of them have been having extramarital affairs for some time. The original text has the bizarre night of conception, when the spouses are both thinking of their respective lovers, result in a kind of homunculus who bears a physical resemblance to these lovers. In contrast, Brucker comes straight to the point and has Charlotte give birth to a headless chicken - an unreal, hopeless artificial being that is incapable of living from the outset. Thus, unlike in Goethe’s novel, it does not have to slip into the water accidentally from the arms of Eduard’s lover Ottilie during a boat trip, but is tossed to and fro like a ball by the two women right after its birth until it eventually falls to the ground.

    Brucker’s penchant for using powerful images on the one hand and her aim to achieve intellectual and philological precision on the other reveal two influential role models from Brucker’s formative years - Jossi Wieler and Andreas Kriegenburg. After graduating from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and studying directing in London, she assisted them both at the Munich Kammerspiele from 2003 onwards. From Wieler, Brucker learned to sound out texts carefully for their different “strata of language” and to consider “how the actors can play intelligently with these different strata on their own initiative”, while Kriegenburg helped her to experience the fascination of a consistent “physical approach to acting”.

    Another important influence is the British dance, performance and live art scene with which Felicitas Brucker came into contact in the late nineties during her directing course at left-wing Goldsmith College in London. Encounters with groups like Forced Entertainment and the Théâtre de Complicité not only fuelled her passion for improvisation and cross-genre works including performance, the visual arts or movement theatre, but also sensitised her to a non-hierarchical approach to staging that explicitly celebrates rehearsals as a “collective thought and work process”. For instance, Brucker is a director who decidedly seeks the “overlap” between a role and the personality of the actor involved. That is to say that the stage characters are not imposed conceptually on the actors, but are usually developed in cooperation with them or from them.

    Ideally, this leads to the creation of work like the premiere of Anja Hilling’s Engel (Angels) at the Munich Kammerspiele, for which Brucker was invited to attend the young directors’ festival “Radikal jung” in 2007. Hilling’s piece brings together characters in a bar who are balancing mysteriously between the past and the present. One of them thinks he recognises a woman whom he has seen before as a dead body on a Baltic beach in Poland; another encounters his love of 19 years previously, who does not remember anything, etc. In Brucker’s production, all these people stranded between the different periods of time meet in a plywood halfpipe. This is a typical, hugely symbolic Brucker image. By the bye, the shaky ground under the characters’ feet is also made to promote their play instinct, making lurching and sliding a tragicomic standard form of locomotion.

    Brucker’s 2008 production of Urfaust at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin showed that there is sometimes a stumbling block to her approach. She ambitiously attempts to transform long-suffering Gretchen, a relatively marginalised character, and to give her more active features. In so doing, she highlights the question of why a woman kills her child, for Goethe a subordinate dramaturgical theme. This project remained all too evidently stuck at the drawing-board stage. Yet the reviews rightly praised Felicitas Brucker’s boldness. When this director fails, she does so at a high intellectual level.

    Brucker was soon entrusted with her own projects at the Munich Kammerspiele after her time as an assistant. Today, she also works regularly at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and at the Schauspielhaus in Vienna, where she is head director. It is here that her fruitful cooperation with Ewald Palmetshofer developed, an actor selected as young dramatist of the year 2008 by the specialist journal Theater heute. Felicitas Brucker successfully premiered two works by this young writer, hamlet ist tot. keine schwerkraft (hamlet is dead. no gravity) (2008) and faust hat hunger und verschluckt sich an einer grete (faust is hungry and chokes on a fishbone) (2009) to great acclaim. Both productions were invited to Stücke, the renowned contemporary drama festival in Mülheim.

    While this director, like almost all young professionals, began by premiering the works of young dramatists, her repertoire has expanded in recent years to include an increasing number of works from the classical canon.
    Christine Wahl

    Productions - A selection

    • Friedrich Schiller "The Maid of Orleans"
      2012, Theater Freiburg
    • Christian Dietrich Grabbe "Herzog Theodor of Gothland"
      2011, Schauspiel Hannover
    • Kevin Rittberger "Kassandra oder die Welt als Ende der Vorstellung" (i.e. "Kassandra or The World as End of Imagination")
      2010, Schauspielhaus Vienna
      Invitation to the Mülheimer Theatertage
    • Anders Thomas Jensen "Adams Äpfel" (i.e. "Adam's Apples")
      2010, Schauspiel Hannover
    • Thomas Freyer „Amoklauf mein Kinderspiel“ (UA) (i.e. "Running Amok My Childrens' Game”)
      2010, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
    • Jean-Paul Sartre "Closed Society"
      2009, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • After Aischylos "Oresteia"
      2009, Theater Freiburg
    • After Herta Müller "The Heart's Animal" (Solo with the actress Anja Schneider)
      2009, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • Ewald Palmetshofer "faust hat hunger und verschluckt sich an einer grete" (i.e. "faust is hungry and is choking on grete/ a fishbone")
      2009, Schauspielhaus Wien
    • John Birke "Armes Ding" (i.e. "Poor Thing")
      2008, Münchner Kammerspiele (Werkraum)
    • Nach Lukas Moodysson "Lilja Forever"
      2008, Maxim Gorki Theater (Studio), Berlin
    • Nach Frank Wedekind "Spring Awakening"
      2008, Theater Freiburg
    • Thomas Freyer "Amoklauf mein Kinderspiel"(i.e. "Rampage my Child's Play")
      2008, Thalia Theater (Gaußstraße), Hamburg
    • Johann Wolfgang Goethe "Urfaust"
      2008, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • Ewald Palmetshofer "hamlet ist tot. Keine schwerkraft"(i.e. "hamlet is dead. no gravity")
      2007, Schauspielhaus Wien
    • Justine del Corte "Sex"
      2007, Thalia Theater, Hamburg (Autorentheatertage)"
    • Klaus Hoggenmüller "So nah und doch so fern"(i.e. "So Near and still so Far")
      2007, Maxim Gorki Theater (Studio), Berlin
    • Elfriede Jelinek "Ulrike Maria Stuart"
      2007, Schauspiel Hannover
    • Nach Johann Wolfgang Goethe "Elective Affinities"
      2006, Theater Freiburg
    • Anja HIlling "Engel"("Angels")
      2006, Münchner Kammerspiele (Werkraum)
    • "Die perverse Familie" (i.e. "The Twisted Family") (within the scope of the project "fire sources")
      2006, Münchner Kammerspiele (Neues Haus)
    • Kathrin Röggla "Draußen tobt die Dunkelziffer"(i.e. "Outside blusters the estimated number of unreported cases")
      2005, Münchner Kammerspiele (Werkraum)
    • After Michel Houllebecq "Extension of the Combat Zone"
      2005, Münchner Kammerspiele (Werkraum)