Amélie Niermeyer

© Maurice Korbel
Born in Bonn on 14 October 1965. High school diploma in St Louis/USA, 1984, university entrance examination in Bonn. Then jobshadowing at Schauspiel Bonn. Her teachers were Peter Eschberg and Rudolf Noelte. After travelling through south-east Asia and Australia, courses at Drama School in Sydney and, from 1986 to 1989, she studied German in Bonn and Munich. Assistant director in Bonn and at Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich, where she became an in-house director in 1990.

1992 Promotional Prize for “Women’s Research and Women’s Culture” of the City of Munich. In the same year she moved to the Dortmunder Theater as senior play director. 1993 return to Munich’s Residenztheater. From 1995 permanent director at Schauspiel Frankfurt, but also produces in Munich, Weimar, Bregenz and at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. In 2002 she became manager at Freiburg Theatre. At the start of the 2006/2007 season she will move to be manager of the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus.

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Portrait: Amélie Niermeyer

At the start of her career at the Bayerisches Staatschauspiel in Munich it was said of her that she “did not put the actors on the boards that mean the world, but on the ground of facts”. What this means is that Amélie Niermeyer paid a great deal of attention to socially critical plays. In 1991 she produced Bettina Fless’s “Memmingen”, a play about the spectacular trial against the gynaecologist from Memmingen, Theissen, who had carried out abortions.

In the same year, she brought Inez van Dullemen’s “Write Me in the Sand” about incest and child sex abuse onto the stage. Event there, although she dealt with material critical of the age, she developed a directorial style that rejected a superficial stage documentarianism. Her treatment of the incestuous abusive involvement of a father and a daughter was praised by critics as a production in which “the monstrous case, the remote media event becomes a neighbourhood tragedy: shabby and affecting”.

Even in early productions, Amélie Niermeyer made it clear that she was concerned about urgent stage atmosphere and physical contact with the audience. This is the case both with staging socially critical plays and with the great classics. But it is especially the case when Amélie Niermeyer keeps turning to plays from various centuries that reflect the role of women in changing social contexts. In 1998 she produced Elfriede Jelinek’s “Illness or Modern Women” in Munich’s Cuivillièstheater, one year later Goethe’s “Stella” at the Frankfurter Schauspiel. The premiere of Simone Schneider’s “The Lady of the Camellias”, which she produced at the Frankfurter Schauspiel in 2000, too, should also be seen in this context. Her new staging of Dumas’s novel showed the most famous sufferer of TB in world literature as a women who fluctuates between thin-skinned fatalism and quick-tempered love of life, between self-fulfilment and self-destruction. In the premiere it was clear that the lady of the camellias retains a residue of emotional and moral autonomy in spite of her dependency on men.

Amélie Niermeyer is committed to a form of spoken theatre that comes from the actor’s point of view. At her – very successful – start as the manager at Freiburg, she gathered together an outstanding company of actors, she opened her first season with William Shakespeare’s “Midsummer Night’s Dream” and produced the lovers’ mix-ups in the Athenian Forest as a light comedy with strong images. It once again became clear that he great strength lies in actors’ theatre that atmospherically involves the audience. Whereas she produced “Midsummer Night’s Dream” rather conventionally and without strong interventions in the text, at the end of her first Freiburg season she went a completely different way. She heavily cut Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”, omitted whole scenes and produced a fragmentary philosophical comedy as though she were working on a reconciliation between deconstruction and narrative theatre. Amélie Niermeyer appraoched the play very freely by her standards, but told the central story in a linear fashion and mainly dealt with the flight of Rosalind and Celia and the androgynous disguise game in the Forest of Arden with its promises of love and trysts. The whole thing took place in a flokati half-pipe, in which love becomes a rollercoaster ride.

In her last season at Freiburg, Amélie Niermeyer tackled a stage adaptation of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, placing the audience on the revolving stage of the large auditorium as passengers on a ship. At this point, several of the bigger theatres in Germany were courting her to become their artistic director, and she finally accepted an offer from the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus. In her farewell to Freiburg, she staged Chekhov’s “Three Sisters” as women wavering between hysteria and melancholy, depicting abrupt transitions from weariness to exuberant activity and setting Chekhov’s bitterest phrases in space like glittering solitaire diamonds.

She is taking “Three Sisters” with her as part of her first season in Düsseldorf (2006/2007), where she is now in charge of a venue dedicated solely to theatre after working in an environment at Freiburg where drama, opera and dance coexist within the same building. In her debut schedule, she has programmed her own version of Elias Canetti’s “The Marriage” and the premiere of a new play by Thomas Jonigk. For this first Düsseldorf season, Amélie Niermeyer is bringing together directors as various as Stefan Bachmann, Luc Perceval, Sebastian Baumgarten and Stephan Rottkamp, as well as choosing some surprising themes with her mix of classics, premieres and a large proportion of projects in which theatre groups like Rimini Protokoll explore urban spaces and ways of life.

Jürgen Berger

Productions - A selection

  • William Shakespeare "What You Will"
    2014, Residenztheater, Munich
  • Friedrich Schiller "Cabal and Love"
    2013, Residenztheater, Munich
  • Max Frisch "Biography: A Game"
    2012, Theater Basel
  • Ingmar Bergman "Persona"
    2012, Residenztheater, Marstall, Munich
  • Horace McCoy "They Shoot Horses, Don't They ?"
    2011, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • George Tabori "My Battle"
    2010, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Anton Chekhov "The Seagull"
    2010, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Hanan Snir after Amos Oz "Black Box"
    2009, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Anton Chekov"Three Sisters"
    2009, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus (Creation of the production at the Theater Freiburg)
  • Anton Chekov"Iwanov"
    2008, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • William Shakespeare "As you Like It"
    2007, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Elias Canetti "The Marriage"
    2006, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Friedrich Schiller "Mary Stuart"
    2006, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel (Residenztheater), Munich
  • Anton Chekov "Three Sisters"
    2005, Freiburg Theatre
  • After Hermann Melville “Moby Dick”
    2004, Freiburg Theatre
  • William Shakespeare “As You Like It”
    2003, Freiburg Theatre
  • After Theodor Fontane “Effi Briest”
    2003, Freiburg Theatre
  • William Shakespeare “Twelfth Night”
    2002, Freiburg Theatre
  • Simone Schneider “The Lady of the Camellias”
    premiere 2000, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe “Stella”
    1999, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Elfriede Jelinek “Illness or Modern Women”
    1998, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Werner Schwab “The Round of Pleasure after the Round Dance from the pen of the Pleasant Mr Arthur Schnitzler”
    1997, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • William Shakespeare “As You Like It”
    1996, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Heinrich von Kleist “The Prince of Homburg”
    1995, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Thomas Jonigk “Rottweiler”
    premiere 1995, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Alexander Ostrovsky “The Storm”
    1994, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Aristophanes “Lysistrata”
    1993, Dortmund Theatre
  • Frank Wedekind “The Awakening of Spring”
    1992, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Inez van Dullemen “Write Me in the Sand”
    1991, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Bettina Fless “Memmingen”
    1991, Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel Munich
  • Ludmilla Razumovskaya “Dear Elena Sergeevna”
    1990, Bayerisches Staatsschaupiel Munich