Stefan Pucher


© Sebastian Hoppe
Born in Gießen in 1965. 1988-1994 Studied Theatre Science and American Studies in Frankfurt. From 1995 continuous productions at Theater am Turm (TAT) in Frankfurt under the management of Tom Stromberg.

1998-1999 Productions at the Berliner Volksbühne under Frank Castorf and at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg under the management of Frank Baumbauer. Since 2000 in-house director at the Zurich Schauspielhaus (manager: Christoph Marthaler), but also working in Hamburg and Berlin. Since 2004 productions in Berlin, Munich and Basel.

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Portrait: Stefan Pucher

Just 15 years ago moving from the independent theatre scene to municipal theatres was still considered to be ideological treachery. Today, by contrast, the converts are the warmest advocates of subsidised theatres. Christoph Marthaler, Stefan Bachmann, René Pollesch, Sasha Waltz or Lars-Ole Walburg all come from autonomous project theatre and later worked in the management of large theatres. And in the mid-nineties Stefan Pucher also started as an independent theatre-maker at TAT Frankfurt.

Shaped by the pop and DJ culture of the last decade, which developed ever new styles in the mixture of apparently incompatible categories, Pucher has developed an image theatre of surprising rash action. His evenings at TAT mixed together club concerts, performance and video art into a wild theatre concept – and he himself sometimes played records.

The first “Sturm und Drang” phase climaxed in 1997 in a late-night action entitled “15 Minutes to Comply” during documenta X in Kassel. In an underground tram stop a dog barked across the wall in a video loop while the German-English performance group “Gob Squad” performed a disturbed dance theatre until the tram picked them up. This dense and dynamic disorientation of the everyday smoothed Pucher's way into the most important municipal theatres of the nineties: the Berliner Volksbühne and the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg.

Here, he first of all tried in vain to reproduce his pop-Dadaism with ensemble actors in his own projects. But unfortunately that looked like a school reunion of professional teenagers. The directness was lost. Surprisingly, it was Chekhov, the patent supplier of middle-class theatre of empathy, who proved the salvation. With the production of “The Cherry Orchard” in Basel Theatre in 1999 Pucher found the material that provided enough resistance to his methods to allow fertilisation.

The age-old question of any updating, whether old material can be played with modern characters in such a way that both remain credible, found a convincing answer here. Pucher’s personnel, which seemed to have been borrowed from pop videos, “in” neighbourhoods and daily soaps, told the misunderstandings between doers and thinkers casually as a colourful contemporary story, but replaced the Chekhov melancholy with ironic self-observation. Cheeky dance choreographies, bright colourfulness and a video stage looking at the overhead lines of the Basel tram system went hand in hand with the serious consideration of the drama.

When he moved his work to Christoph Marthaler’s Zurich Schauspielhaus, Pucher then found his personal style of looking after classics in this third theatre phase. When dealing with Shakespeare, Chekhov or Büchner, he combined traditional narrative arts with that ironic scepticism that always aims at breaking false pathos – a stance that links the best of the contemporary directors. Thus, for the “Three Sisters” he created a happy old people’s home atmosphere, turned Richard III's court into a cabinet of fops who would not look out of place in any advertising agency (both performances were invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen) and he set the “Seagull” on an ice surface.

The acceptance of media reality that has changed our ways of seeing and understanding, always plays an important and plausible role in Pucher’s work. By using video he shows the public nature of the private and the duplication of existence through copies. The camera as an expression of supervision, flood of information, acceleration or banalisation does not, however, dominate his productions as a quick effect, but as a natural expansion of perspective. The vulnerable human and his complicated conflicts are always at the heart. The term pop thus unnoticeably changes into the term humanity.

Till Briegleb

Productions - A selection

  • Bertolt Brecht "Baal"
    2014, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Sophocles "Electra"
    2013, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • Tennessee Williams "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"
    2013, Schauspielhaus, Zurich
  • William Shakespeare "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
    2012, Thalia Theater, Hamburg
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe "Faust I"
    2012, Schauspiel Frankfurt
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder "The Cheeky Devil"
    2012, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • Samuel Beckett "Endgame"
    2011, Schauspielhaus, Zürich
  • Stephen Belber "Tape"
    2011, Deutsches Theater, Berlin
  • August Strindberg "Flush"
    2011, Burgtheater (Akademietheater), Vienna
  • Arthur Miller "Death of a Salesman"
    2010, Schauspielhaus, Zurich
    Invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Anton Chekhov"Platonov"
    2009, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • William Shakespeare "Measure for Measure"
    2008, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • William Shakespeare "The Tempest"
    2007, Münchner Kammerspiele
  • Tennessee Williams "Mourning Becomes Electra"
    2006, Munich Kammerspiele
  • After Anton Chekov„Die Vaterlosen“ (i.e., The Fatherless")
    2006, Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin
  • Anton Chekov „Uncle Vanja“
    2005, Schauspiel, Basel
  • René Pollesch "Diabolo - Schade, dass er der Teufel ist (Prater-Saga 4) (i.e., "Diablo - A Shame He's the Devil")
    2005, Prater (Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz), Berlin
  • Stefan Pucher after Max Frisch "Homo Faber"
    2004, Zurich Schauspielhaus (Invitation to the Berliner Theatertreffen)
  • William Shakespeare "Othello"
    2004, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • Aeschylus “The Oresteia“
    2004, Zurich Schauspielhaus
  • William Shakespeare “Richard III”
    2002, Schauspielhaus Zürich, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Georg Büchner “Leonce and Lena”
    2001, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • Anton Chekhov “Three Sisters”
    2001, Schauspielhaus Zurich, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Anton Chekhov “The Seagull”
    2000, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • Anton Chekhov “The Cherry Orchard”
    1999, Basel Theatre
  • Stefan Pucher “Comeback”
    1999, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • Stefan Pucher “Flashback”
    1998, Volksbühne Berlin
  • Stefan Pucher/Gob Squad “15 Minutes to Comply”
    1997, documenta X Kassel
  • Stefan Pucher/Gob Squad “Right Close Up”
    1996, Theater am Turm Frankfurt
  • Stefan Pucher “Zombie – A Horror Trip Through Three Decades”
    1995, Theater am Turm Frankfurt