Frank Castorf, the Thankful Rebel
By Pedro de la Hoz
The man who revolutionized the German drama from the stage of the Volksbuhne [German for People's Theatre] Theater, located in the Rosa Luxemburgo Plaza in Berlin, with his incarnation of rebelliousness with principles, is the spokesperson of an art that aims to penetrate the consciousness of the spectator going against the current of passivity or so-called good taste. Castorf does not believe in the theatre as a place to bedazzle, but rather as a space to awaken the human condition.
This is why it has been a joy to have him as one of the protagonists of German Theater Week that recently concluded in Havana but that will carry on informally with presentations by the El Publico, Escambray and Teatro D' Dos companies.
By way of the National Theater Arts Council, the Ludwig Foundation and the Goethe Institute of German Culture, Castorf has come into contact with the Cuban theater movement and is familiar with the aesthetic it offers.
For his contribution to Cuban theater, Cuban Minister of Culture Abel Prieto presented Castorf with a Certificate of Artistic Merit from the Higher Arts Institute. "When I receive awards I am usually suspicious about the merits they are ascribing me, because at times I feel that they are trying to make me into an icon of the things that I criticize in my work. But in the case of Cuba it is different: I appreciate the gesture because I know that there are a lot of things that unite us and I am convinced that we are working towards the same things," said Castorf.
During the presentation, Cuban theater expert Omar Valino Cedre, director of Tablas magazine spoke of Castorf as "the heir to Piscator and the unruly son of Brecht." He went on to say that he represents "the continuity of renovation of the best of German art and culture."
Castorf (East Berlin, 1951), director of the Volksbuhne Theater since 1992, has secured his enormous prestige as a stage director with his adaptations of Dostoyevsky novels and pieces by Jean Paul Sartre and Tennessee Williams. Currently he is working on his version of the Wagner opera The Mastersingers of Nuremberg.