Jorinde Dröse

© Iko Freese, DRAMAJorinde Dröse was born in 1976 in Hanau, studied dramaturgy at the Munich Theatre Academy and trained from 1998 to 2003 at the Institute for Theatre Direction in Hamburg, also working as an assistant director under Andreas Kriegenburg and Sebastian Nübling. Since 2003, Jorinde Dröse has been employed continuously as a director, mainly at the Thalia Theater Hamburg, but also at the Munich Volkstheater, the Schauspielhaus Bochum, the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin, the Staatstheater Wiesbaden and the Schauspiel Frankfurt.

    Productions - A selection

    © Iko Freese, DRAMA
    • Henrik Ibsen "A Public Enemy"
      2012, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • After Heinrich Mann and Josef von Sternberg "The Blue Angel"
      2012, Schauspiel Frankfurt
    • Theodor Fontane "Effi Briest"
      2012, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • After Hans Fallada "Every Man Dies Alone"
      2011, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • Henrik Ibsen "Nora"
      2011, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
    • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing "Minna von Barnhelm or A Soldier's Luck"
      2010, Schauspiel Frankfurt
    • Georg Büchner, adaption by Robert Wilson, Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan "Woyzeck"
      2009, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
    • After William Shakespeare "Die Schock-Strategie. Hamlet"
      2009, Schauspiel Leipzig (Centraltheater)
    • Ödön von Horváth, "Kasimir und Karoline" (Kasimir and Karoline)
      2003, Thalia in der Gaußstraße, Hamburg
    • William Shakespeare, "As You Like It"
      2003, Munich Volkstheater
    • Lukas Bärfuss, "Die sexuellen Neurosen unserer Eltern" (The Sexual Neuroses of Our Parents)
      2004, Thalia in der Gaußstraße, Hamburg
    • Karin Duve, "Dies ist kein Liebeslied" (This is Not a Love Song)
      2003, Thalia in der Gaußstraße, Hamburg
    • Presnyakov Brothers, "Playing the Victim"
      2004, Staatstheater Wiesbaden
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Urfaust"
      2005, Schauspiel Frankfurt
    • Theodor Fontane, "Effi Briest"
      2005, Thalia Theater Hamburg
    • Patrick Marber, "Closer"
      2005, Staatstheater Wiesbaden
    • William Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
      2006, Thalia Theater Hamburg
    • William Shakespeare, "Much Ado about Nothing"
      2006, Munich Volkstheater
    • Sabine Harbeke, "nur noch heute" (today only)
      2006, Bochum Kammerspiele
    • Franz Xaver Kroetz, "Furcht und Hoffnung in Deutschland" (Fear and Hope in Germany)
      2006, Thalia in der Gaußstraße, Hamburg
    • Tennessee Williams, "A Streetcar Named Desire"
      2006, Bochum Kammerspiele
    • Anton Chekhov, "Platonov"
      2007, Schauspielhaus Bochum
    • Thomas Vinterberg, "The Celebration"
      2007, Munich Volkstheater
    • Friedrich Hebbel, "Maria Magdalena" (Mary Magdalene)
      2007, Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin
    • Theodor Storm, "Der Schimmelreiter" (The Rider on the White Horse)
      2008, Thalia Theater Hamburg
    • Ken Kesey, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"
      2008, Schauspielhaus Bochum
    • Tom Lanoye "Mamma Medea"
      2009, Thalia Theater Hamburg

    Portrait: Jorinde Dröse

    © Iko Freese, DRAMAIf Jorinde Dröse were to make pictures, she would probably be called a naive artist. But a perfectly honourable style that can certainly be regarded as a mark of distinction in the fine arts tends to be disapproved of in the theatre, where it is suspected of triviality, superficiality and vulgarity. So Jorinde Dröse is not a representative of the new naivety in theatre direction. All the same, her productions draw their vitality from the fact that a story is being told, that the watcher can join in the experience and feel touched, that the performances are not hermetic, but immediately communicative. Her imagination seems carefree and light-hearted. The narrative style is relaxed. One believes her straight away when she says: “I have an intuitive approach to my work.”

    For example, it is quite possible in Jorinde Dröse’s world for her characters to grow huge because someone feels very small. This was the case in Franz Xaver Kroetz’s drama of unemployment Furcht und Hoffnung in Deutschland (Fear and Hope in Germany) . In 2006, more than 20 years after it was premiered, Dröse’s production of the play at the Thalia in der Gaußstraße in Hamburg made a lively, topical impression and enjoyed great success. About 20 characters were played by six actors costumed as dolls, in one case as a sex doll, some of them larger than life, some of them alarming. What at first sight seemed to take the sting out of Kroetz’s play about social issues actually brought it to life, illustrating quite directly the mechanical soullessness and emptiness of these excluded individuals. Thanks to the adoption of this strategy, her confident, relaxed lightness of touch enabled her to save the play from its tendency towards social kitsch.

    Dröse has a mastery of humour in the theatre. Her comedy is almost never strained, but seems as light and freewheeling as her own imagination. She is evidently able to pass on this intuitive freedom to her actors as well. In Dröse’s best productions, they behave as if someone has liberated them to be themselves, producing performances that are straightforward, clear, funny and playful.

    Dröse takes a direct approach to her materials – which include ever more adaptations of novels or films –: she interrogates them to find out what they have to say to her, she reads them closely. She does not then move on to elaborate a concept, but to develop what could be called her intuition. Maybe this is because she seems to have a quite unmediated feel for the stage techniques that constitute the language of the theatre. The things that happen on stage in her productions are not there as means to an end but for their own sake.

    When she directed Urfaust in Frankfurt, it was immediately clear how directly the translation of the play from its original period to the modern day functioned. Faust was not an old man, but a mature student, Mephisto not the Devil, but a young fellow student. He only disconcerted Faust slightly, there was no pact and when Mephisto played the Devil he merely pretended to be a little monster so as to scare Wagner, Faust’s Frankfurt-accented assistant.

    In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, her second work for the big stage at the Thalia Theater, she turned the opening of this drama of love, fairies and artisans into a disquisition on the terrorist Athenian regime. As a result, the couple’s flight became almost an inevitability. The lovers broke through the walls of the stage into freedom – escaping into the famous enchanted forest. This is how Jorinde Dröse reads texts: Interpreting them from a contemporary perspective, she makes them communicate with contemporary experiences. By doing so, she finds ways of ensuring they become transparent.

    At the same time, her greatest strength probably lies in the great concentration with which her actors perform their parts. In her most recent work, this has ceased to be paired automatically with whimsicality. Der Schimmelreiter (The Rider on the White Horse) , her latest production at the Thalia Theater, may have been full of elements of the kind one would expect from Jorinde Dröse, a stage full of water, an oversized paper ship, a stranded village community of curmudgeonly, dubious misanthropes. However, above all thanks to her treatment of these curious figures, who moved around on a broad black stage in light drizzle, Dröse created a gloomy fenland atmosphere that ultimately intensified into an apocalyptic vision.
    Peter Michalzik