Andreas Kriegenburg

© David Baltzer
Born in Magedeburg on 15 November 1963. Until 1980 senior school; followed by training as a model carpenter. 1982-1984 Technician and carpenter at Magdeburg Theatre. In 1984 he moved to the Gerhart Hauptmann Theatre in Zittau as an assistant director, there he made his directorial debut in the same year with Yevegeny Schwarz’s “Little Red Riding Hood”. 1987-1991 assistant director, then director at the Kleist Theatre in Frankfurt/Oder. There, in January 1989 he produced Strindberg’s “Miss Julie” and, on 9 November 1989, the day when the Berlin Wall came down, Lothar Trolle’s “Barrack Residents” (as a reaction to “the euphoria sweeping the country at the time”).

In 1991 he moved to the Berlin Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburger Platz as a staff director, where he enjoyed a great success from the very start with Büchner’s “Woyzeck”. Guest productions in Basel, Bonn and Hanover, among other towns. 1994-1999 staff director under Ulrich Khuon at the Niedersächsisches Staatstheater Hanover and regular guest director at the Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich. In Munich he was awarded the Bavarian Theatre Prize in 1997.

1999-2001 in-house director at Vienna’s Burgtheater Zurich under the management of Klaus Bachler. In the 2001/2002 season Kriegenburg followed Ulrich Khuon to Hamburg’s Thalia Theater where he has been senior director ever since. As a guest he has most recently produced at the Munich Kammerspiele and Zurich Schauspielhaus. Since the 2009/2010 season he is in-house director at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, which was taken over by Ulrich Khuon.

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Portrait: Andreas Kriegenburg

Andreas Kriegenburg, a carpenter by trade, is a self-taught director. After starting out as a stage technician in his home town of Magdeburg, he debuted in Zittau and then moved to the theatre in Frankfurt an der Oder. In 1991, one year before Frank Castorf became the manager, he arrived at the Berlin Volksbühne, where he celebrated a magnificent start with Büchner’s “Woyzeck”.

Even before Castorf had started his infamous Volksbühne theatre of deconstruction, Kriegenburg had already practised it in “Woyzeck”. He broke Büchner’s fragment down into its individual parts to put it back together again, with visible cracks, as a perpetrator and victim story of an indifferent society. There was a minor sensation when the newcomer from the east was invited to the 1992 Berliner Theatertreffen with it, the only director from the new Federal Länder. A talent had been recognised that developed something like a Castorf style at an early stage, destroyed texts and founded a theatre of hopelessness, anger and uninhibited hysteria on the ruins.

Nevertheless—or maybe precisely because of this – Kriegenburg increasingly met with aversion from the public and the press, he was denounced as a “niche Ossi” [easterner], “young wanker” and a “violator of plays”. He went, produced in Basel and Bonn and finally became a staff director at Hanover Staatstheater with regular guest productions at the Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich. It was not long before he was in Berlin again: invited to the 1997 Theatertreffen with his bitter-comical interpretation of Borchert’s drama about a return from the war, “The Man Outside”, which he transposed to the Germany of the Economic Miracle in the 1950s without making too many changes to the text.

Kriegenburg, who many considered to be Castorf’s protegy, then announced that the Berlin Volksbühne and its text executions were “famous and dead”. He turned his back on everything that could be labelled “deconstruction” or even “cynicism” and instead polished his own ideal: a comedy-existentialist physical theatre in the spirit and gesture of silent film comedians such as Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati, filled with a melancholy like that that determines the basic tone of the films of the Finnish directos Aki Kaurismäki. In Hanover in 1997 he staged Kaurismäki’s film “I Hired a Contract Killer” in a four-hour theatrical version: a dreamy ballad about outsiders and gloom that develops into a moving love story between the slapstick hero, who is tired of life, and a rose seller. Kriegenburg produced Brecht’s popular play “Herr Puntilla and his Man Matti” in Zurich in 2004 in the spirit of his idol Kaurismäki: as a drunken, Finnish midsummer night’s dream, delirious as though under the influence of alcohol – wistful to the point of self-pitying.

Kriegenburg has a great love for the little people, the losers and underdogs, who always draw the short straw and struggle their whole lives for a little bit of luck. That is why he also likes the dark plays of Dea Loher, almost all of which he has premiered. In terms of cooperation between writers and directors in the theatre, the two are a dream team because they complement each other almost perfectly. With kindly sympathy, Kriegenburg derives sparks of comedy and happiness from Loher’s pessimism. Whether the poor in Gorki’s “Night Asylum” or the Silesian peasants in Hauptmann’s “Before Dawn”, Wedekind’s “Lulu” or Loher’s “Adam Geist” - Kriegenburg always allows his characters to balance on the narrow plank between tragedy and comedy, always discovers some eccentric wit, a fleeting hope, hidden poetry in their desperation and their handicaps.

Kriegenburg’s theatre is heavily differentiated in body language, choreography, acrobatics, dance are key elements. He masters the art of slapstick in all of its variants like no one else in the theatre. For Kriegenburg, as for Buster Keaton, his role model, it is an expression of being lost: “a struggle for survival – falling down to get up again, to fall down again and stand up again…” But he does not always succeed with the economy of the means. Sometimes Kriegenburg’s love of spinning a yarn goes too far, his ideas get lost in the detail and in the far too artificial. But his best works are so full of tenderness, humour and sad poetry that it makes your heart skip a beat – from pain and from happiness.

Christine Dössel

Productions - A selection

  • Friedrich Schiller "Mary Stuart"
    2015, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Ödön von Horváth "Don Juan Comes Back From the War"
    2014, Salzburg Festival/Perner-Insel, Hallein
  • William Shakespeare "What You Will"
    2014, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • David Grossmann "Aus der Zeit fallen" (i.e. "To Fall Out of Time")
    2013, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Anton Chekhov "The Seagull"
    2013, schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Frank Wedekind "Franziska"
    2012, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Dea Loher "Am Schwarzen See" (i.e. "By Lake Schwarzer See")
    2012, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Richard Wagner "Twilight of the Gods"
    2012, Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
  • Richard Wagner "Siegfried"
    2012, Bavarian State Opera, Munich
  • Richard Wagner "The Valkyrie"
    2012, Bavarian State Opera, Munich
  • Richard Wagner "The Ring of the Nibelung - Rhinegold"
    2012, Bavarian State Opera, Munich
  • Heinrich von Kleist "Kate of Heilbronn"
    2011, Deutsches Theater, Berlin LI>Elfriede Jelinek "Winterreise" (i.e. "Winter's Journey")
    2011, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Friedrich Hebbel "Judith"
    2011, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe "Stella"
    2011, Schauspiel Frankfurt (Kammerspiele)
  • Andreas Kriegenburg "Alles nur der Liebe wegen" (i.e. "All because of Love")
    2010, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Giuseppe Verdi "Otello"
    2010, Deutsche Oper, Berlin
  • Carlo Goldoni "The Servant of Two Masters"
    2010, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Dea Loher "Diebe" (i.e. "Thieves")
    2010, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • William Shakespeare "Hamlet"
    2009, Deutsches Theater, Berlin (Kammerspiele)
  • Heinrich von Kleist "Prinz Friedrich von Homburg"
    2009, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • After Joseph Conrad "Heart of Darkness"
    2009, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Anja Hilling "Radio Rhapsodie"
    2009, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Friedrich Schiller "Cabal and Love"
    2009, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Molière "The Misanthrope"
    2009, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe "Urfaust"
    2009, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Andreas Kriegenburg "Die Zelle"(i.e. "The Cell")
    2008, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel, München
  • Alban Berg "Wozzeck"
    2008, Bayerische Staatsoper, München
  • Franz Kafka "The Process"
    2008, Münchner Kammerspiele
    Eingeladen zum Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Anton Chekov "Uncle Wanja"
    2008, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Dea Loher "Das letzte Feuer"(i.e. "The Last Fire")
    2008, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
    Invitation to the Mülheimer Theatertage
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing "Emilia Galotti"
    2007, Theater Magdeburg
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart "Idomeneo"2007, Theater Magdeburg/Opernhaus
  • Dea Loher "Land ohne Worte/Berliner Geschichte"8i.e. "Land Without Words/Berlin Story")
    2007, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • William Shakespeare "Romeo and Juliet"
    2007, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Catherine Aigner "Hinter Augen"(i.e. "Behind Eyes")
    2007,Thalia Theater (Thalia in der Gaußstraße), Hamburg
  • After Ingmar Bergmann "Das Leben der Marionetten" (i.e. "The Life of the String Puppets")
    Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Arthur Miller "The Crucible"
    Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Anton Chekov "Three Sisters"
    2006, Munich Kammerspiele (Invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen)
  • Jean Paul Sartre „Dirty Hands“
    2006, Thalia Theater, Hamburg  (Invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen)
  • Andreas Jungwirth "´Schwarze Mamba" (i.e. "Black Mamba")
    2006, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • After Christoph Willibald Gluck "Orpheus and Eurydike"
    2006, Theater Magdeburg/Opernhaus
  • Iwan Wyrpajew „Sauerstoff“ (i.e., "Oxygene")
    2005, Thalia Theater in der Gaußstraße, Hamburg
  • Dea Loher after Miguel de Cervantes “Don Quixote, the Knight of the Sad Countenance“
    2005, Thalia Theatre, Hamburg
  • William Shakespeare „King Lear“
    2005, Thalia Theatre, Hamburg
  • Andreas Kriegenburg after Lars von Trier "Idioten" (i.e. "Idiots")
    2005, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Johann Friedrich Hebbel "Die Nibelungen"
    2004, Kammerspiele Munich (Invitation to the Berliner Theatereffen)
  • Friedrich Schiller "The Maid of Orleans"
    2004, Thalia Theatre Hamburg
  • Dea Loher "Das Leben auf der Praça Roosevelt" (i.e. "The Life on Praça Roosevelt")
    2004, Thalia Theatre Hamburg
  • Bertolt Brecht “Herr Puntila and his Man Matti”
    2004, Schauspielhaus Zurich
  • Dea Loher “Innocence”
    premiere 2003, Thalia Theatre Hamburg
  • Aeschylus “The Oresteia”
    2002, Kammerspiele Munich, Jutierhalle, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Henrik Ibsen “Pillars of Society”
    2002, Schauspielhaus Zurich
  • Dea Loher “Magazine of Happiness 1-6”
    premiere 2002, Thalia Theater Hamburg in der Gaußstraße
  • After Jacques Prévert “Children of Paradise”
    2001, Thalia Theater Hamburg
  • After Georg Büchner “Danton’s Death”/Heiner Müller “The Commission”: “!Revolution!”
    2001, Burgtheater Vienna
  • Maxim Gorki “Night Asylum”
    2000, Thalia Theatre Hamburg
  • Robert Wilson/William S. Burroughs/Tom Waits “The Black Rider”
    2000, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Gerhart Hauptmann “Before Dawn”
    2000, Deutsches Theater Berlin
  • Frank Wedekind “Lulu”
    1999, Burgtheater Vienna
  • Heinrich von Kleist “Penthesilea”
    1999, Residenztheater Munich
  • Georg Büchner “Leonce and Lena”
    1998, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Dea Loher “Adam Geist”
    premiere 1989, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Dea Loher “Olga’s Room”
    1998, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Henrik Ibsen “An Enemy of the People”
    1997, Staatstheater Hanover, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Federico García Lorca “The House of Bernarda Alba”
    1997, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • After the film by Aki Kaurismäki “I Hired a Contract Killer”
    1997, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Wolfgang Borchert “The Man Outside”
    1996, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich, invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Heiner Müller “Cement”
    1996, Volksbühne Berlin
  • Dea Loher “Strange House”
    premiere 1995, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Ödön von Horváth “Kasimir and Karoline”
    1994, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Bertolt Brecht “The Good Woman of Szechwan”
    1994, Volksbühne Berlin
  • Marieluise Fleisser “Purgatory in Ingolstadt”
    1993, Bonn Theatre
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder “Katzelmacher”
    1993, Basel Theatre
  • Federico García Lorca “The Love of Don Perlimplin with Belisa in Their Garden”
    1992, Volksbühne Berlin
  • Georg Büchner “Woyzeck”
    1991, Volksbühne Berlin, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Euripides/Heiner Müller “Medea/Medea Material”
    1991, Frankfurt/Oder Theatre
  • Ludmilla Razumovskaya “Dear Elena Sergeevna”
    1990, Frankfurt/Oder Theatre