Christian Stückl


© Winfried Rabanus
Born in Oberammergau on 15 November 1961, son of publicans. He attended grammar school in Ettal and Garmisch-Partenkirchen and completed an apprenticeship as a wood sculptor from 1981 to 1984. In 1981 he founded a theatre group in his home village, with which he produced plays by Molière (“The Imaginary Invalid”, “Tartuffe”), Ben Jonson (“Volpone”), Büchner (“Woyzeck”) and Shakespeare (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “As You Like It”).

1987/88 assistant director under Dieter Dorn and Volker Schlöndorff at the Munich Kammerspiele; 1991-1996 permanent in-house director with managerial responsibilities at the Munich Kammerspiele. Twice, in 1990 and 2000, Stückl was manager and director of the Oberammergau Passion Plays, which take place every ten years, and which he clearly refreshed.

From 1996 to 2002 he worked as an independent director at various theatres and in this time produced almost exclusively contemporary plays. In summer 2002 his new production of Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Everyman” premiered at the Salzburg Festival. Since the autumn of 2002 Stückl has been manager at the Munich Volkstheater.

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Portrait: Christian Stückl

We can certainly call the director Christian Stückl a natural. He is a theatre animal, unspoilt in the best sense of the word. Stückl did not go to university and he has not worked his way up at a theatre. Away from the theatre metropolises and their fashions he started as an autodidact with an instinctive feel for everything to do with the stage.

Stückl is a wood carver by trade. A carver of crucifixes. But shaping lifeless wood soon became too dull for him – he wanted to work with livelier material, which is why he founded a theatre group with friends in Oberammergau and increasingly turned to direction. The troupe rehearsed plays by Shakespeare, Molière and Büchner in the back rooms of pubs and in the town’s former cinema. Play-acting has a tradition in the Bavarian town of Oberammergau. The famous passion plays, in which the whole town is involved, have been enacted for over 350 years. Stückl trod the boards as a child in the 1970 Passion Play, his grandfather and his father played the role of Caiphas twice.

In 1987, at the age of 25, Stückl was appointed Director of the 1990 Passion Plays by virtue of a decision of the Council. Due to strong resistance, at that time Stückl could only cautiously reform the amateur play about the suffering and death of Jesus. It was only in the Passion Plays of the year 2000 that he could achieve the complete renewal he had been aiming at. Stückl freed the biblical play of handed-down baggage and made it more professional. There was a new, almost abstract set and artistically stylised costumes with fabrics from India. In the new version of the text, which Stückl managed to introduce, Jesus was not just the suffering whipping boy, but an active resistor and argumentative prophet.

With this production Stückl demonstrated those skills that characterised his later popular theatre spectacles, such as Felix Mitterer’s “Gaismair” – a dramatic story about the leader of the Tyrolean peasants’ revolt in 1525 – or his “Everyman” in Salzburg: that he can direct masses, choreograph extras and motivate actors. As director, Stückl is also always the choirmaster and trainer, a keen, close-up circus director.

As earlier in Oberammergau, in 2002 he reformed another holy cow with Hofmannsthal’s “Everyman” at the Salzburg Festival: there had not been a new production of the play for 17 years and, since Max Reinhardt’s premiere production of 1920 it had never been changed greatly anyway. Stückl grounded the play by taking a great deal of the stature and noble paths from the catholic play of redemption and plausibly individualised the allegorical characters.

In the professional theatre scene, Stückl became famous in 1991 with his first work outside Oberammergau: with the premiere of Werner Schwab’s radical comedy “My Liver is Sick” at the Munich Kammerspiele. Stückl succeeded with the tightrope walk between angry-bitter grotesque and sad social investigation. The journal “Theater heute” elected him young director of the year 1992 for this.

In his further work at the Kammerspiele he tried out various plays and styles – without a fixed concept of theatre, but always based on the text in a very playful way. In 1996 he left that theatre to free himself of the shaping aesthetics of the Kammerspiele and his “Übervater” Dieter Dorn, from whom he had grown distant. In this time he developed a strong weakness for new plays, produced countless premieres – with varying degrees of success – without ever becoming subservient to the zeitgeist and its trends.

As the manager of the Munich Volkstheater Stückl has now found his artistic home with a young team, located between Shakespeare, Schiller, Bavarian tradition and new drama. “Volkstheater” [popular theatre], for Stückl this is neither comedy theatre nor folklore, but theatre in its broad, glittering range, with stories “about love and people”. Stückl tells these stories earthily, sensually in a down-to-earth manner, from a boisterous – sometimes unrestrained – joy of acting. Nothing is smooth, polished and varnished, everything presses and storms and crashes. It is vital theatre, powered by emotions!

Christine Dössel

Productions - A selection

  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing "Nathan the Wise"
    2015, Munich Volkstheater
  • Peter Turrini "Bei Einbruch der Dunkelheit" (i.e. "At the Beginning of Dusk")
    2014, Vienna Burgtheater
  • William Shakespeare "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
    2014, Passionstheater Oberammergau
  • Ödön von Horvath "Tales from the Vienna Woods"
    2013, Munich Volkstheater
  • Georg Büchner "Danton's Death"
    2012, Munich Volkstheater
  • Rolf Hochhuth "The Representative"
    2012, Munich Volkstheater
  • Tankred Dorst "Merlin or The Waste Land"
    2011, Schauspielhaus (Schiffbau/Halle), Zurich
  • Thomas Mann "Joseph and His Brothers"
    2011, Passionstheater Oberammergau
  • Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill "The Three Penny Opera"
    2011, Munich Volkstheater
  • "Passionplay Oberammergau"
    2010, Gemeinde Oberammergau
  • William Shakespeare "Hamlet"
    2009, Volkstheater München
  • William Shakespeare "Richard III."
    2008, Munich Volkstheater
  • Henrik Ibsen "Peer Gynt"
    2008, Munich Volkstheater
  • Friedrich Schiller "Don Carlos"
    2007, Munich Volkstheater
  • William Shakespeare "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
    2006, Munich Volkstheater
  • Antonio Salieri "La Cifra"
    2006, Oper Köln
  • Georg Büchner „Woyzeck“
    2006, Munich Volkstheater
  • Festival „Radikal Jung“ (i.e., "Radically Young") 2005
    Since 2005 annually, Munich Volkstheater
  • Kurt Wilhelm/Franz von Kobell „Der Brandner Kaspar und das ewig Leben“ (i.e., "Brandner Kasper and the Eternal Life")
    2005, Volkstheater, Munich
  • Frank Wedekind "Lulu"
    2004, Münchner Volkstheater
  • Edward Albee “The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?”
    2004 Munich Volkstheater
  • Martin Sperr/Christian Stückl “Matthias Kneissl”
    2003, Munich Volkstheater
  • Friedrich Schiller “The Robbers”
    2003, Munich Volkstheater
  • Wilhelmine von Hillern “The Vulture Maiden”
    2002, Munich Volkstheater
  • William Shakespeare “Titus Andronicus”
    2002, Munich Volkstheater
  • Hugo von Hofmannsthal “Everyman”
    Since 2002 annually, Salzburg Festival
  • Felix Mitterer “Gaismair”
    premiere 2001, Tiroler Volksschauspiele Telfs
  • Botho Strauß “The Similar Ones”
    1998, Schauspiel Frankfurt a.M.
  • Martin Baucks “Dirty Dogs”
    premiere 1998, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Martin F. Wall “Plague 1633”
    premiere 1998, Oberammergau
  • Werner Schwab “Escalation: obscene”
    1998, Schauspielhaus Vienna
  • Botho Strauß “Ithaka”
    1997, Schauspiel Frankfurt a.M.
  • Martin Walser “Kashmir in Parching”
    premiere 1997, Badisches Staatstehater Karlsruhe
  • Yasmina Reza “Art”
    1997, Schauspiel Bonn
  • Vladimir Sorokin “Dysmorphomania”
    premiere 1996, Schauspielhaus Vienna
  • Kerstin Specht “Carceri”
    Premiere 1996, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Bernard-Marie Koltès “Roberto Zucco”
    1995, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Christopher Marlowe “Edward II”
    1993, Munich Kammerspiele
  • William Shakespeare “Much Ado About Nothing”
    1992, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Werner Schwab “My Liver is Sick”
    premiere 1991, Munich Kammerspiele, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen

Links

Jesus on the Mount of Olives; photo: Brigitte Maria Mayer / Passionsspiele Oberammergau 2010

Theater as Tradition – The Passion Play in Oberammergau

Every ten years, the Passion Play Festival takes place in Oberammergau. Director Christian Stückl has freed the play from its anti-Semitic stance.More ...