Dramaturgy in Stuttgart: An Interview with Hermann Beil

Reinhardt Stumm

Hemiann Beil is Chief Dramaturg at the Stuttgart State Theater. In 1977 his collaboration with director Claus Peymann on a new version of Faust won both men extensive praise in Theater heute.

Beil had just read Jhering [the German critic] again and therefore he rejects my first question. No, the interest in dramaturgy is not all that new. As early as the late twenties Jhering had been vehemently calling for it. And at the Berliner Ensemble dramaturgical work was taken for granted from the beginning. We both agree, however, that dramaturgy has had varying significance over the last decades. As long as the theater is only a showcase for whatever plays come to market, then dramaturgy can barely play any role. Yet ten years ago, or thereabouts, it again came into prominence. Why?

Speculations: With the absence of new plays, interest was again directed toward the classics, which of course could no longer be played as the texts were written. So the dramaturg acts as a quasi-author, who develops ideas and reworks plays to make them approachable again, or even puts plays together himself. In all of this Beil sees the dramaturg as one force working in conjunction with several others. And he sees the dramaturg doing much more practical work than before. Well, his literary-theoretical orientation is still used, but only in combination with practical activity.

The dramaturg does everything conceivable. Beil recently has been rehearsing with the actors--of course not as director, he does not have such ambitions, but from his more precise knowledge of the material he becomes one of the forces in the collective working out of proposed staging ideas.

Earlier it was different. Then there was the occasional request: Write me something to add here or there. So Beil

-49-

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