Falk Richter

© David Baltzer
Born in Hamburg on 23 October 1969. 1981-1985 studied theatre direction at Hamburg University under Jürgen Flimm, Manfred Brauneck, Christof Nel, Jutta Hoffmann and Peter Sellars. Joint graduation with the year of ’85, which came to be known as the “Hamburg School, including Nicolas Stemann, Sandra Strunz, Matthias von Hartz and Ute Rauwald.

Freelance director and writer since 1996. Productions in Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Mainz, Berlin, Göttingen, Atlanta and Amsterdam. Since 2001 in-house director at Zurich Schauspielhaus under the management of Christoph Marthaler. Regular work on the Berliner Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz under the artistic management of Thomas Ostermeier.

Since the season 2011/2012 Falk Richter is in-house director at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus.

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Portrait: Falk Richter

Everyone is talking about the media. Even the theatre. There, so-called media realities are a hot topic everywhere, sometimes with and sometimes without the use of video. New plays are also constantly about this vague subject. They are about soaps, infotainment, the loss of reality or conditioning to violence. But the media are most likely to appear as quotes from great cinema films. For many young directors, Tarantino, Spielberg, Kaurismäki or Lars von Trier are much more present than Goethe, Shakespeare, Chekhov and Molière.

And why not? Times are changing. The problem is only that many of the stage reflections on the new media do not go beyond the level of description, irony and cliché. And Falk Richter is also active in this area, with his attempts to analytically view the tension between man and the media. As a dramatist and director he repeatedly describes human psychology as a victim of media pretence and colourful promises of globalisation.

After a first production – “Silicone” in 1996 – Richter started to examine the scandalous manipulation of people by information. Firstly, he developed the play “Cult” at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, which deals with enslavement by fashion and pop.

This was followed by “God is a DJ" after the work of the same name by the British pop group Faithless, which he premiered in Mainz in 1999. In it, a media couple spouts mantras about urban life, with its problems of authenticity and personal ranking, then starts to talk about crying men and exploding windows, to end abruptly with personal experiences of child abuse and pornography.

After Richter had produced an impressive theatre performance about the relationship wars of young emotional egoists together with the choreographer Anouk van Dijk in Hamburg’s Kampnagel-Fabrik, his strong political commitments were ideally combined in text and production for the first time in the play “Peace”. The production by the Berliner Schaubühne describes everyday life in a metropolitan flat-share of convenience, in which war photographers and professional advertisers, media people and pop stars come together, as in “MTV The Real World”. The only difference is that here, all of the cynicism of presentation and content can somehow no longer be laughed away and the real human dramas emerge as caricatures. Richter’s drama “Electronic City”, which Matthias Hartmann premiered as a multimedia spectacle in Bochum in 2003 before Richter produced it himself, describes globalisation nomads in a permanent nervous breakdown.

But because Richter learned the craft of actor direction in his training in Hamburg under Jürgen Flimm, who he did not really like, in his own productions he constantly succeeds in transferring the virtual subject psychologically accurately right into human conflict situations. And it also enables him to present completely media-free plays, such as Jon Fosse’s “Nightsongs” or Sarah Kane’s “4.48 Psychosis” densely and impressively as highly conventional human drama. He even succeeded remarkably well with a diversion to the opera with Henze’s “We Come to the River”, which he once again produced as a powerful media political spectacle.

As Richter’s criticism of the media was born from fascination with the media, his approach sometimes has the reformatory zeal of a convert. Then his characters mutate into stereotypes or caricatures, his tone loses distance and the analytical contention turns onto jargon. But when he concentrates more on suffering in the world than on critical polemics, he arrives at impressive portraits of modern people. And in this work he has created some of the most intensive stage experiences of recent years.

Till Briegleb

Productions - A selection

  • "Small Town Boy"
    2014, Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin
  • "Büchner". A project by Falk Richter
    2012, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Michel Houellebecq "The Map and the Territory" ("La carte et le territoire")
    2012, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Falk Richter/Anouk van Dijk "RAUSCH" (i.e. "FLUSH")
    2012, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Falk Richter/Anouk van Dijk "PROTECT ME"
    2010, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
  • Falk Richter/Anouk van Dijk "TRUST"
    2009, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
  • Friedrich Schiller "Cabal and Love"
    2008, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
  • Anton Chekhov"The Cherry Orchard"
    2008, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
  • Falk Richter "Emergency State"
    2007, Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz, Berlin
  • Anton Chekov "Three Sisters"
    2006, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Jon Fosse „Schatten“ (i.e., "Shadow")
    2006, Festival Bergen, Coproduction with Nationaltheater Oslo
  • Falk Richter „Die Verstörung“ (i.e., "Irritation")
    2005, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Elfriede Jelinek after Oscar Wilde „Ernst ist das Leben“ (i.e., "Life is a Serious Thing")
    2005, Akademietheater, Wien
  • Richard Strauß/Hugo von Hofmannsthal „Elektra“
    2004, Oper Frankfurt
  • Martin Crimp "Fewer Emergencies" (Das System 3/Amok) (i.e. The System 3/Amok)
    2004, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Falk Richter "Unter Eis" (Das System 2)" (i.e. "Under Ice" (The System 2)" )
    2004, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Anton Tschechow "The Sea Gull"
    2004, Salzburg Festival
  • Falk Richter "Hotel Palestine (Das System, 4)" (i.e. "Hotel Palestine (The System 4)" )
    2004, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Falk Richter “Electronic City (The System 1)"
    2004, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Roland Schimmelpfennig/Falk Richter “For a Better World/Seven Seconds/In God We Trust”
    2003, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • Caryl Churchill “A Number”
    2003, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • Lars Noren “Clinic”
    2002, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • Sarah Kane “4.48 Psychosis”
    2001, Schaubühne Berlin/Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • “We Come to the River”
    2001, Hamburgische Staatsoper
  • Hans-Werner Henze
    Libretto by Edward Bond
  • Jon Fosse “Nightsongs”
    2000, Schauspielhaus Zürich
  • Falk Richter “Peace”
    2000, Schaubühne Berlin
  • Oscar van Woensel “Who”
    1999, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • Anouk van Dijk/Falk Richter “Nothing Hurts”
    1999, Kampnagel Hamburg/Springdance Festival, Utrecht, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Falk Richter “God is a DJ”
    1999, Staatstheater Mainz
  • Bertolt Brecht “In the Jungle of the Cities”
    1998, Theatre Seven Stages, Atlanta, USA
  • Martin Crimp “Attempts on Her Life”
    1997, Toneelgroep Amsterdam
  • Falk Richter “Cult – A History for a Virtual Generation”
    1997, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Gerardjan Rijnders “Silicone”
    1996, Kampnagel Hamburg