René Pollesch


© David Baltzer
Born in Friedberg, Hesse, in 1962. 1983-1989 Studied Applied Theatre Science in Gießen, under Heiner Müller, George Tabori and John Jesurun among others. From 1992 projects at Theater am Turm (TAT) in Frankfurt/Main under the then manager Tom Stromberg. In 1996 he received a working scholarship at the Royal Court Theatre London with seminars given by Harold Pinter and Caryl Churchill.

Since 1998 productions at municipal theatres in Berlin, Leipzig and Stuttgart. 1999/2000 in-house writer and director at Lucerne Theatre, then at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. His theatre soap project that he developed there, “World Wide Web-Slums 1-10” won the Mülheim Dramatists’ Prize in 2001.

From the 2001/2002 season until 2006/2007 Pollesch was artistic director of the Prater at the Berliner Volksbühne (manager: Frank Castorf). In 2002 Pollesch was voted the best German dramatist in a critics’ survey by “Theater heute”. He produces in Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Vienna and Zurich.

Related links

Portrait: Pollesch, René

Only a very few directors manage to find a really new form of theatre that is complex enough not to quickly solidify in style. Robert Wilson, Christoph Marthaler, Frank Castorf or Christoph Schlingensief are such artistically dominant figures who have been able to preserve their originality from exhaustion over many years. It remains to be seen whether René Pollesch will succeed in this, too, but he has already met one basic requirement: his theatre is new, unmistakeable and complex.

Since his apprentice years at the Institute for Applied Theatre Sciences in Gießen, the only drama school in Germany where theory and practice are taught with reference to each other, Pollesch has been following a fundamental idea: to combine television entertainment and academic discussions in a way suitable for the stage. By crossing these formats, each of which is frowned upon individually on the stage, Pollesch has created a Theatre of Hysteria that is singular in its dynamics and intensity.

Mental games on terms such as outsourcing, city marketing, globalisation or networking, which Pollesch quotes and combines from text books, are turned into dialogue a kind of satirical montage. Overtaxed city people then use these texts to discuss their emotional misery as permanent shouting. This results in Ally McBeal as a left-wing bookstore on speed.

As already implied in the play titles, the unique language of these plays acquires both absurd and very specific qualities in this process. If the actors are discussing the question as to whether desire is only an instrument of the capitalist usage chain, the political evaluation of the naïve luxury of the First Worlds appears extremely serious. At the same time, Pollesch’s artificial language arouses discomfort about the jargon from university and TV used, which are actually not so dissimilar in terms of their actual emptiness of meaning. It is only the grotesque humour that this mixture of overloaded and banal expression develops that allows the great success of his plays among a mainly young audience.

Another characteristic of Pollesch Theatre is the high level of aggression. The three actors, who form the basic model of this stage situation, convert the overheating with theories and associations, which Pollesch dictates to them, into a permanent nervous breakdown. The subconscious constantly breaks through the controlled surface of slaves to capitalism and gallops away like mad in yelled cascades of words. Given the rapid pace of the text output, the prompt is an integral part of the production. A shouted “Shit” indicates the need for a prompt, which then comes.

Pollesch not only works as a director and writer (for which he has won the Mülheimer Dramatists’ Prize, among others), but he has also developed a symbolism-laden trash aesthetics comprising pop rubbish, plush, karaoke, words and western tools that is no less demanding of the attention than the text and the pace. Productions by other directors, such as Stefan Pucher’s attempt with the Pollesch text “True Love is Traded in Bank Raids”, tend to appear forceless in comparison to this manic orgy of culture.

The idea of the series as a metaphor for the repetition compulsion and acceleration not only leads to serial productions ("Heidi Hoh” in Berlin or “www-slums 1-10” at the Humburg Schauspielhaus), but also to the constant recycling of text fragments for new productions. Thus, in just a few years Pollesch’s rapid productivity has led to a comprehensive coverage of German-speaking major theatre and, however, to a certain degree of exhaustion of the means.

With the reinvention of his 1992 production “Splatter Boulevard” at Hamburg’s Schauspielhaus in 2003, however, he managed the leap into the biggest German theatre format with a crazy criminal comedy. In this new challenge his critical-hysterical funniness clearly gained a new dimension. The Future is Unwritten.

Till Briegleb

Productions - A selection

  • René Pollesch "Herein ! Herein ! Ich atme euch ein !(i.e. "Come in ! Come in ! I Breathe You in")
    2014, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • René Pollesch "Cavalcade or Being a holy Motor"
    2013, Burgtheater, Wien
  • René Pollesch "Gasoline Bill"
    2013, Munich Kammerspiele
  • René Pollesch "Cavalcade"
    2013, Burgtheater (Akademietheater), Vienna
  • René Pollesch after Honoré de Balzac "The Splendours and Miseries of the Courtesans"
    2013, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Macht es für euch ! " (i.e. "Make it for Yourself")
    2012, Schauspielhaus, Zurich
  • René Pollesch "Neues vom Dauerzustand" (i.e. "News From the Steady State")
    2012, Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg
  • René Pollesch "Eure ganz großen Themen sind weg !" (i.e. "Your Really Great Subjects Are Away")
    2012, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • René Pollesch "Wir sind schon genug" (i.e. "We Are Already Good Enough")
    2012, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • René Pollesch "Kill Your Darlings ! - Streets of Berladelphia"
    2012, Volksbühne-am-Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
    Invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen
  • René Pollesch "Die Liebe zum Nochniedagewesenen (i.e. "The Passion For What Has never Been There")
    2011, Akademietheater, Vienna
  • René Pollesch "Die Kunst war viel populärer, als ihr noch keine Künstler wart" (i.e. "Art Was Much More Popular, When You Haven't Been Artists yet")
    2011, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Was immer du machst, mach es nicht selbst" (i.e. "Whatever You Do, Don't Do It Yourself")
    2011, Theater Freiburg
  • René Pollesch "Schmeiss dein Ego weg !" (i.e. "Chuck Away Your Ego")
    2011, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "XY Beat" (i.e. "XY Beat")
    2010, Munich Kammerspiele
  • René Pollesch "Sozialistische Schauspieler sind schwerer von der Idee eines Regisseurs zu überzeugen" (i.e. "Socialistic Actors are More Difficult to be Assured of the Director's Idea")
    2010, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • René Pollesch "Drei Western"(i.e. "Three Western")
    2010, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch "Der perfekte Tag. Ruhrtrilogie 3"(i.e. "The Perfect Day. Ruhrtrilogy 3")
    2010, Ringlokschuppen, Mülheim, Koproduktion mit der Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Peking Opel"
    2010, Burgtheater, Vienna
  • René Pollesch after Christa Winsloe "Girls in Uniform"
    2010, Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg
  • René Pollesch „Here's Looking at You, Social Context of Delusion!“
    2010, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Calvinismus Klein"
    2009, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • René Pollesch "Cinecittà Aperta"
    2009, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin (Prater)
  • René Pollesch "JFK"
    2009, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • René Pollesch "Wenn die Schauspieler mal einen freien Abend haben wollen, übernimmt Hedley Lamarr" (i.e. "If the actors want to have a free evening, Hedley Lamarr is taking over")
    2008, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch "Ein Chor irrt sich gewaltig" (i.e. "A Choir is totally wrong")
    2009, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin (Prater)
  • René Pollesch "Ping Pong d'amour"
    2009, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • René Pollesch "Du hast mir die Pfanne versaut, du Spiegelei des Terrors"(i.e. "You cocked my pan, you fried egg of terror")
    2009, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Fantasma"
    2008, Burgtheater, Wien
    Einladung Mülheimer Theatertage
  • René Pollesch "Tal der fliegenden Messer" (i.e. "Valley of Flying Knives")
    2008, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Hallo Hotel Nachtportier"
    2007, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Die Welt zu Gast bei reichen Eltern" (i.e. "The World as Guest at Rich Parents")
    2007, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • René Pollesch "Diktatorengattinnen" (i.e. "Wives of Dictators")
    2007, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Liebe ist kälter als das Kapital" (i.e. "Love is Colder Than Money")
    2007, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch "Solidarität ist Selbstmord" (i.e., "Solidarity is Suicide")
    2007, Munich Kammerspiele
  • René Pollesch "Wann kann ich endlich in den Supermarkt gehn und kaufen was ich brauche allein mit meinem guten Aussehen ?" (i.e., "When Can I Finally Go To the Supermarket and Buy What I Need Just Because I'm Good-Looking ?") 
    2006, Staatsschauspiel Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch "Strepitolino"
    2006, Prater (Volksbühne am Rosa Luxemburg-Platz), Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Cappuccetto Rosso" (i.e., Capuccetto Rosso")
    (Invitation to the Mülheimer Theatertage „Stücke 2006“/"Plays 2006")
    2006, Volksbühne Berlin (Prater)/Salzburg Festival 
  • René Pollesch „Notti senza cuore“ (i.e., "Notti senza cuore")
    2005, Prater (Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz), Berlin
  • René Pollesch „Schändet eure neoliberalen Biograpien !“ (i.e., "Rape Your New Liberal Biographies")
    2005, Kammerspiele, Munich
  • René Pollesch "Häuser gegen Etuis" (i.e., "Houses Against Cases")
    2005, Burgtheater (Kasino), Vienna
  • René Pollesch "Die Magie der Verzweiflung (Prater-Saga 5) (i.e., The Magic of Desperation")
    2005, Prater (Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz), Berlin
  • René Pollesch "Der okkulte Charme der Bourgeoisie bei der Erzeugung von Reichtum" (i.e., "The Occult Charme of Bourgeois People While Producing Wealth")
    2005, Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg
  • René Pollesch "Stadt ohne Eigenschaften"(i.e. "City without Qualities")
    2005, Staatsschauspiel Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch "1000 Dämonen wünschen dir den Tod" (i.e. "1000 Demons Want your Death")
    2004, Volksbühne Berlin /Prater
  • René Pollesch "Hallo Hotel..." (i.e. "Hallo Hotel...")
    2004, Festival Theaterformen (Koproduktion des Burgtheaters Wien, des Theaters Braunschweig und des Staatsschauspiels Hannover)
  • René Pollesch "Pablo in der Plusfiliale" (i.e.""Pablo in the Plus Chain-Store")
    2004, Ruhrfestspiele
  • René Pollesch “Svetlana In A Favela”
    2004, Lucerne Theatre
  • René Pollesch “LSD”
    2003, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch “Splatter Boulevard”
    2003, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • René Pollesch “24 Hours Are Not a Day. Escape from New York”
    2002, Volksbühne Berlin
  • René Pollesch “The Candidate 1980. They’re Alive!”
    2002, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • René Pollesch “Prater Trilogy. City as Prey/Insourcing Home – People in Grotty Hotels/Sex”
    2001/2002 Volksbühne Berlin im Prater, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • René Pollesch “Heidi Hoh 3 – The Company’s Interests Cannot Be the Interests that Heidi Hoh Has” 2001, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm in Frankfurt a.M./Vienna Festival
  • René Pollesch “Smarthouse 1+2”
    2001, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • René Pollesch “World Wide Web-Slums 1-10”
    2000-2001, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • René Pollesch “Heidi Hoh Doesn’t Work Here Any More”
    2000, Podewil Berlin
  • René Pollesch “Java In A Box”
    1999, Lucerne Theatre
  • René Pollesch “Globalisation and Crime”
    1998, Schauspiel Leipzig
  • René Pollesch “Heidi Hoh”
    1998, Podewil Berlin
  • René Pollesch “Superblock”
    1998, Berliner Ensemble
  • René Pollesch “Three Hysterical Women”
    1998, Berliner Volksbühne im Prater
  • René Pollesch “I Cut Quicker/Version 4”
    1993, Theater am Turm Frankfurt
  • René Pollesch “Splatter Boulevard”
    1992, Theater am Turm Frankfurt