Peter Stein



  • (1937 - ) German theater director, whose work with theBerlin Schaubühne has had an international influence. In 1969 Stein'sproduction of Goethe's Torquato Tasso at Bremen was hailed as amilestone for the German theater. His radical interpretation of this workcriticized Goethe for avoiding political reality and compared artists whoaccept state subsidies with Tasso's subordination to his aristocratic patrons.The director and several of his actors were dismissed when they insisted onreading left-wing political statements to the audience.

    Stein and his colleagues then established a theater collective,based in West Berlin's Schaubühne (a venue opened in 1962). Thecompany, which included such leading actors as Bruno Ganz, Edith Clever,and Michael König, soon established a reputation as the mostexciting troupe in Germany with innovative productions of Shakespeare'sAs You Like It, Ibsen's Peer Gynt, Edward Bond's Saved,and Heinrich von Kleist's Prince of Homburg. Stein and thecompany made exhaustive research into the ideology of the plays anddramatists, often rewriting the texts to draw out the contemporaryparallels.

    In 1982 Stein's company moved into a new $30-million theaterin West Berlin, the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz; it featuredan open acting space with 76 movable floor sections.

    From the mid 1970s Stein gradually dropped his didactic left-wingapproach and began to concentrate on a new ideal of fidelity to thewritten text. His naturalistic presentation of Chekhov's ThreeSisters in 1984 became the company's most popular production.For his subsequent Chekhov productions Stein consulted Stanislavsky'snotebooks in an attempt to reconstruct the original Moscow staging.In 1987 he left the Schaubühne to concentrate on opera production,earning particular acclaim for his work with the Welsh National Opera.In 1990 he became director of theater at the Salzburg Festival. Steinis now based in Tuscany but continues to direct work throughout Europeand in a number of languages. More recent productions include thecomplete Oresteia in Russian at the Edinburgh Festival (1994),Chekhov's Uncle Vanya in Italian (1996), both parts of Goethe's Faust (2000), and the Elektra of Sophocles (2007).