Hasko Weber

Hasko Weber, Foto: © David GraeterHasko Weber was born on 10 December 1963 in Dresden. After taking his Abitur (higher education entrance qualification), he trained as a mechanical and plant fitter, then studied acting at the Hans Otto Drama College in Leipzig from 1985 to 1989. In 1989, he was taken on as an actor and director at the Städtische Bühnen Karl-Marx-Stadt/Chemnitz by the theatre’s executive director Gerhard Meyer. In the same year, he founded the Dramatische Brigade (Dramatic Brigade), an independent group with links to the Städtische Bühnen that drew artistic and political attention with its very first productions. In 1990, he worked for the first time at the Staatsschauspiel Dresden, where he was employed for the following two years as an actor with directorial duties and took over the position of director of drama in 1993 (under executive director Dieter Görne). For eight years, until 2001, he moulded the theatre’s company and aesthetic approach. This was followed by engagements as a freelance director at theatres in various German cities, including Karlsruhe, Saarbrücken and Mannheim. In 2002, Friedrich Schirmer attracted him to the Staatstheater Stuttgart, where he became associate director a year later. In the same year, his celebrated production of Ibsen’s “Brand” was awarded the Bavarian Theatre Prize. In the 2005/06 season, Hasko Weber assumed the post of executive director at the Staatstheater Stuttgart as the successor to Friedrich Schirmer. From the season 2013/2014 he takes over the German National Theatre in Weimar.
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Portrait: Hasko Weber

Hasko Weber is a man who is avowedly interested in positioning his theatre socially and, in this respect, he can be called a political director. He grew up in the GDR in a high-rise block of flats near Dresden. His father was an unskilled worker and his mother was an industrial clerk. “My understanding of society,” he has said, “also comes from my origins.”

Just as the GDR was collapsing in 1989, Weber began his career as an actor and director in Chemnitz, then known as Karl-Marx-Stadt, where he acquired a “solid, realistic founding” for his work in the theatre from Gerhard Meyer, the executive director of the Städtische Bühnen. In Karl-Marx-Stadt, Weber founded the “Dramatische Brigade”, a kind of revolutionary theatre group that was loosely associated with the city’s municipal theatre. The seven-member group caused a furore with subversive pieces of drama such as Nigel Williams’s “Class Enemy” and Kleist’s “The Schroffenstein Family”.

In 1993, at the age of 29, Hasko Weber became the director of drama at the Staatsschauspiel Dresden, where he had already been working since 1990, first as a guest, then as a permanent member of the company with a directing contract. Weber was a strong advocate of lively, tendentious, politically and socially relevant drama and argued that the stage should be a “place for authentic events”. He led the company and directed plays in Dresden for eight years, shaping the theatre’s aesthetic approach with the protection and support of its executive director Dieter Görne, who Weber describes as having “far-sightedness, greatness and staying power in difficult times”.

As a director, Weber developed a liking for big projects, difficult subject matter and heavyweight classics such as “Hamlet”, “Oedipus” and “Wallenstein”, which he sought to get a grip on less with psychology than with determined formal rigour and an aesthetic of clarity, always searching for the “flowing truths” and “deeper connections” to be found in these works. After his preoccupation with the techniques and effects of biomechanics in the late 1990s, Weber’s approach became even more formal and ascetic, which was reflected most radically in Ibsen’s “Brand” (Staatsschauspiel Stuttgart) and Hebbel’s “The Nibelungs” (Staatstheater Saarbrücken).

In 2002, Weber achieved a triumphant success at Stuttgart with “Brand”, the story of a fundamentalist holy warrior. He had “magnificently revived an almost unplayable piece of theatre history with stark, simple methods,” judged the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Weber recounted the material in images of compelling clarity and translated the pathos of the text into an unconventionally expressive physical language. A year later, with Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt”, he provided the hedonistic counterproject to Pastor Brand’s fanatical religious struggle: The legendary wanderings of a braggart and chancer, staged straightforwardly by Weber without folksy ornamentation. It was a concentrated, well crafted piece of work.

Weber is not bothered about sensual opulence. He prefers to cool plays down, reduce them, abstract them, present them with ascetic sobriety and transparency – and by so doing make the heart burn all the more fiercely. Die Zeit described his theatre as a “dangerous powerhouse of feelings and thoughts”, and called Weber the “representative of a new earnestness”.

Whether he is directing Sophocles, Lessing, Ibsen, Schiller or Horváth: it is the extremes that interest Hasko Weber, the radical standpoints and their social implications. He develops his interpretations out of the text in question. He does not moralise. He does not lecture. And he does not impose any preconceived directorial framework on the plays. In consequence, Weber’s productions can seem highly diverse. Some are cheerfully optimistic and intimate like his fairytale “Nathan” in Mannheim (with Jürgen Holtz in the title role), others harshly stripped down and barrenly materialistic like his uninspired Stuttgart “Faust” set among the Russian mafia.

In October 2005, Weber made his debut as executive director at the Staatsschauspiel Stuttgart, where he succeeded Friedrich Schirmer, with Goethe’s “Faust I”, one of six premieres in three days. Goethe’s drama formed the centre of his first season, providing a leitmotif that summed up the human condition in the modern world. The theatre’s new logo also refers to the play: a clenched fist (German: Faust) that symbolises a new start and a combative political spirit. Eva Heldrich has been appointed the theatre’s artistic director and Volker Lösch its associate director. With an ambitious schedule focussing on modern drama and contemporary concerns, Weber’s aesthetic renewal was an immediate success. As a result, the Schauspiel Stuttgart was chosen as “Theatre of the Year” in the 2006 critics’ survey conducted by Theater heute magazine.

Christine Dössel

Translation by Martin Pearce

Productions - A Selection

  • Friedrich Schiller "Wallenstein"
    2015, Nationaltheater Weimar
  • Sibylle Berg "Angst reist mit" (i.e. "Fear Travels with")
    2013, Schauspiel Stuttgart
  • Friedrich Schiller "Don Carlos"
    2012, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Oliver Bukowski "Nichts Schöneres" (i.e. "Nothing Nicer")
    2011, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Sibylle Berg "Missionen der Schönheit" (i.e. "Missions of Beauty")
    2010, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Sibylle Berg "Hauptsache Arbeit" (i.e. "The Main Concern is to be Employed!")
    2010, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • after Andrej Tarkowski using motives of "The Manin the elevator" from THE MISSION by Heiner Müller / Adaption by Jörg Bochow and Hasko Weber "Stalker"
    2009, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Paul Brodowsky "Regen in Neukölln" (i.e. "Rain in Neukölln")(play reading)
    2008, Hamburger Autorentheatertage, Thalia Theater
  • Rainer Werner Fassbinder "The Third Generation"
    2007, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Bertolt Brecht "In the Jungle of the Cities"
    2007, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Martin Heckmanns "Wörter und Körper" (i.e., "Words and Matters")
    2007, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Henrik Ibsen “Little Eyolf”
    2006, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Johann Wolfgang Goethe “Faust I”
    2005, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Samuel Beckett “Waiting for Godot”
    2005, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Friedrich Schiller “The Robbers”
    2004, Berliner Ensemble
  • Ödön von Horváth “The Mountain Railway”
    2004, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Henrik Ibsen “Peer Gynt”
    2003, Staatstheater Stuttgart
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing “Nathan the Wise”
    2003, Nationaltheater Mannheim
  • William Shakespeare “The Merchant of Venice”
    2002, Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe
  • Henrik Ibsen “Brand”
    2002, Staatstheater Stuttgart, awarded the Bavarian Theatre Prize
  • Bertolt Brecht “Drums in the Night”
    2000, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Albert Ostermaier, “The Making Of – B-Movie” (i.e., "The Making Of B-Movie")
    2000, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Friedrich Schiller “Wallenstein I” and “Wallenstein II”
    1999, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Yevgeny Shvarts “The Enchanted Brothers”
    1998, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Heiner Müller “The Task”, William Shakespeare/Heiner Müller “Hamlet with Hamletmachine”
    1997, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing “Emilia Galotti”
    1996, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Anton Chekhov “The Seagull”
    1995, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Tankred Dorst “Mr Paul”
    1994, Staatsschauspiel Dresden
  • Sophocles “Oedipus Rex/Oedipus at Colonus/Antigone”
    1993, Staatsschauspiel Dresden