Lars-Ole Walburg

© Marcus Lieberenz
Born in Rostock on 14 January 1965. Abitur (university entrance qualification) in 1983. He started as an independent editor on television. In 1987 he applied to leave the GDR and finally left the country in early 1989. In 1992 he received the renowned Grimme Prize for the cultural magazine KAOS that he helped to design. 1989-1992 studied Theatre Sciences and German at Berlin Free University. In 1992 he founded Berlin’s “Theater Affekt” together with Stefan Bachmann, Ricarda Beilharz, Tom Till and Thomas Jonigk.

1996-1998 literary manager and director at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg. He then moved to Basel Theatre as head literary manager and director. In 1999 he was invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen with his production of Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” and was voted young director of the year. Regular guest productions at the Munich Kammerspiele.

From the 2003/2004 season to 2005/2006, he was Stefan Bachmann’s successor as head of drama at Basel Theatre. Since 2006, Lars-Ole Walburg has once again been working as a freelance director, mainly at the Munich Kammerspiele and the Schauspiel Hannover. which he takes over as director in 2009.

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Portrait: Lars-Ole Walburg

Since studying theatre sciences and German Lars-Ole Walburg has worked in parallel as a literary manager and a director. In 1992, he founded “Theater Affekt” together with Stefan Bachmann, Ricarda Beilharz, Tom Till and Thomas Jonigk and even then saw himself as the dramatic head of the group. But he also produced plays like Sophocles’s “Oedipus Rex” and made it clear that he had a preference for the great classical material.

Lars-Ole Walburg reviews the classics not only for their intellectual content. He also updates them by incorporating other texts and gaining surprising scenic implementations. This is the case whether he is staging Christian Friedrich Hebbel’s “Nibelungen” and the ancient project “The Trojan Wars” in Basel or making Georg Büchner’s “Danton’s Death” into a mudbath of unfettered media democracy at Munich’s Kammerspiele.

In all cases, Lars-Ole Walburg prepares the production by intersecting classical plays with other texts like a form of collage. When he actually implements the text collage, however, he is anything but the director of deconstruction, but trusts in a theatre to sound out the characters.

In the “Nibelungen”, for example, he used only parts of the Hebbel texts and inserted fragments from the “Edda”, among others. When Kriemhild and Siegfried met for the first time, great dramatic theatre could be seen in Basel. The beautiful blonde from Burgundy floated on the back of the warrior as though love had given her wings. In the case of “Danton”, Walburg scattered passages from the trial transcripts of the Red Army trials throughout the Büchner text, while two moderators guided the audience through the play as “voting cattle” manipulated by the media.

In the “Trojan Wars” Lars-Ole Walburg started with Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s “Iphigenie in Aulis” and had Euripides’s “The Trojans” in a translation by Walter Jens follow after the interval. The result was a well-cut commentary on the political situation in the Middle East. The Greeks’ campaign against Troy showed why power politicians want war as well as the consequences of war.

Lars-Ole Walburg reduces theatre texts to their intellectual core and finds monumental production images for this core. The Hanover premiere of Albert Ostermeier’s monologue “Movers”, for example, was about a power-holder of the new economy who does not realise that his power has diminished. Lars-Ole Walburg went very far with his scenic implementation. The actor Thomas Thieme lay deep down on the lower stage, strapped in as though on a dissecting table, while the audience looked down from above on the insect-like creature, who only had his voice left for communication.

In recent years he has developed into one of the most advanced representatives of a form of direction that sees the theatre as a moral institution. “It really bothers me when views of something are somewhat cynical,” he said in an interview. And: “Schiller in particular does not simply demand what is ethical, but also emphasises the indivisible link with the aesthetic. What is decisive is that the educational must not appear didactic and lecturing. Morals can also be generated by portraying the opposite.”

From the 2003 season until 2006, Lars-Ole Walburg was head of drama at Basel Theatre, forging its ensemble into one of the top German-speaking companies and showing how theatre can be used today as an instrument of reflection on society. This is true of the schedules he presented together with his team. But it is especially true of the strand of documentary productions with which Basel Theatre has increasingly created works that explore the reality of modern society and that have made it a centre of original research in the public sphere.

As a director, Walburg continued to concentrate on the great classic subjects during this period. In the course of his long farewell from Basel, he staged Grillparzer’s "The Golden Fleece" at the end of 2005. The third part of this "dramatic poem", above all, featured a phenomenal Sandra Hüller, who descended into the depths of the humiliated Medea’s despair while still radiating vigour and energy. At the end of the season, Hüller was chosen as actress of the year, not least thanks to her performance in this production.

When the new artistic director arrived at Basel Theatre, Walburg’s time as head of drama also came to an end. Since the 2006/2007 season, he has again been working freelance, mainly at the schauspielhannover and the Munich Kammerspiele. In Hanover, he opened the season with a staging of Shakespeare’s "Othello". This was followed in February 2007 by the world premiere of Lukas Bärfuss's "The Proof" at Munich. From the season 2009/2010 he will inherit the direction of Wilfried Schulz at the Staatsschauspiel Hannover.

Jürgen Berger

Productions - A selection

  • Erich Maria Remarque "All Quiet on the Western Front"
    2014, Staatsschauspiel Hannover
  • Henrik Ibsen "Nora"
    2012, Staatsschauspiel Hannover
  • Lukas Bärfuss "Twenty Thousand Pages"
    2012, Schauspielhaus, Zurich
  • "Heinrich von Kleist oder Die Gebrechlichkeit der Welt" (i.e. "Heinrich von Kleist or The Frailness of the World")
    2011, Schauspiel Hannover
  • Wenedikt Jerofejew "Die Reise nach Petuschki" (i.e. "The Journey to Petruschki")
    2011, Schauspiel Hannover
  • Friedrich Dürrenmatt "The BreakDown"
    2010, Schauspielhaus, Zurich
  • Roland Schimmelpfennig "The Golden Dragon"
    2010, Schauspiel Hannover
  • Lukas Bärfuss after Wolfram von Eschenbach "Parzival"
    2010, Schauspiel Hannover
  • Anton Chekov "The Cherry Orchard"
    2009, Schauspiel Hannover
  • Heiner Müller/Ilja Ehrenburg "Wolokolamsker Chaussee/Das Leben der Autos" (i.e. "Wolkolamsker Chaussee/The Life of Cars")
    2009, Schauspiel Hannover
  • Felicia Zeller "Kaspar Häuser Meer"
    2008, Münchner Kammerspiele (Werkraum)
  • Orhan Pamuk "Snow"
    2008, Münchner Kammerspiele>
  • Aeschylus "The Oresteia"
    2007, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus
  • Feridun Zaimoglu/Günter Senkel "Schwarze Jungfrauen"(i.e. "Black Virgins")
    2007, Burgtheater (Kasino), Vienna
  • Lukas Bärfuss "Die Probe" (i.e., "The Proof")
    2006, Kammerspiele Munich 
  • William Shakespeare "Othello"
    2006, schauspielhannover
  • Anton Chekov "The Cherry Orchard"
    2006, Kammerspiele Munich
  • Franz Grillparzer "The Golden Fleece"
    2005, Basel Theatre
  • William Shakespeare "Hamlet"
    2005, Kammerspiele Munich
  • Bertolt Brecht "The Threepenny Opera"
    2005, Theater Basel
  • Lars-Ole Walburg after Max Frisch "Stiller"
    2004, Theater Basel
  • Sophocles “Antigone”
    2004, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Homer “The Odyssey“
    2004, Basel Theatre
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe “Faust I”
    2003, Basel Theatre
  • Euripides/Walter Jens “The Trojan War”
    2003, Basel Theatre
  • Rainald Goetz “Holy War”
    2002, Munich Kammerspiele in der Jutierhalle
  • Georg Büchner “Danton’s Death”
    2002, Munich Kammerspiele
  • Arthur Miller “Death of a Salesman”
    2002, Basel Theatre
  • After Christian Friedrich Hebbel “The Nibelungen”
    2001, Basel Theatre
  • Albert Ostermeier “Movers”
    premiere 2000, Staatstheater Hanover
  • Friedrich Schiller “The Robbers”
    2000, Basel Theatre
  • Henrik Ibsen “An Enemy of the People”
    1999, Basel Theatre, invitation to Berliner Theatertreffen
  • Alfred Dorfer/Josef Hader “India”
    1997, Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg
  • Bernard-Marie Koltès “Roberto Zucco”
    1996, Berlin Festival
  • Alexander “The Third Rome”
    1995, Volksbühne Berlin
  • Sophocles “Oedipus Rex”
    1994, Studiobühne FU Berlin
  • Bertolt Brecht/Benno Besson “The Trial of Joan of Arc in Rouen”
    1993, Studiobühne FU Berlin
  • Thomas Brasch “Mercedes”
    1992, Studiobühne FU Berlin