European Theatre Research Network hosts International Thomas Ostermeier Symposium

More than 75 international delegates attended a two-day symposium dedicated to the work of the German theatre director Thomas Ostermeier, which was organised by the University of Kent’s European Theatre Research Network (ETRN).

The event took place at the Barbican Centre and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama/University of London, to coincide with the London performances of Ostermeier’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People.

The symposium attracted speakers and delegates from as far away as Argentina, Chile, Australia, the US, Canada, Russia, France and Germany, and also many British theatre artists as well as academics.

Rather unusually, Ostermeier, Artistic Director of Schaubühne Berlin since 2000 and one of the internationally most celebrated contemporary theatre directors of the twenty-first century, was also present throughout the event, accompanied by several performers of his company, his regular set designer and his dramaturg, as well as the Schaubühne’s owner and the theatre’s General Manager. Ostermeier gave an insightful, enthusiastically received lecture on his approach to staging Shakespeare, and he and his actors contributed through panel discussions as well as from the floor, responding to and discussing academic papers. The symposium was supported by Goethe-Institut London, Institut Français Royaume-Uni, Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris, and three other UK universities.

Delegates responded with Twitter and Facebook messages to the event, describing it as ‘engaging and inspiring’, ‘truly wonderful, both focused and open’, ‘thought-provoking and fruitful’.

Thomas Ostermeier and the University of Kent’s Peter M Boenisch, Professor of European Theatre and ETRN Co-Director, collaborate on a jointly written book about the director’s theatre work, to be published by Routledge in Spring 2016.