Peter M Boenisch – Reclaiming Regietheater: The Dialectics of Directing




Event Date: 17 October 2013
Senate Room
Senate House
University of London
London WC1E 7HU

The London Theatre Seminar presents:

Professor Peter M Boenisch (University of Kent) – Reclaiming Regietheater: The Dialectics of Directing

Regie, i.e. the collaborative mise en scène of a playtext, in particular from the canonical dramatic repertoire, staged by an ensemble of resident artists, usually at one of the publicly funded theatres of Continental Europe, is regularly met with harsh rejection, especially by Anglo-American audiences and critics. Or, the very same directors pathologically rejected by some, find themselves idolised by others as prophets of the theatre of the future. Quite curiously, the same pathology emerges at the faultlines of the Anglo-American pragmatic tradition of realist, analytic thinking, and Continental speculative philosophy. My paper draws on this fascinating parallel world of rejections and allegiances that interlinks the present vogue and concurrent hatred of figures such as, say, Jacques Rancière and Thomas Ostermeier. I will outline my attempts to reframe the discourse on “directors’ theatre” by offering a perspective that avoids the persistent slippage into a handful of clichéd criteria, such as ‘authorship’ and ‘truthfulness’. Disappointingly, or perhaps not so, my argument will suggest that far from being simple translations in different languages, the terms Regie, directing and mise en scène in fact disclose three fundamentally different ‘partitions of the sensible’, which is why any assertion of a general, universal principle of ‘theatre directing’ must remain futile.

Peter M Boenisch is Professor of European Theatre at the University of Kent, where he was, with Paul Allain and Patrice Pavis, one of the founding co-directors of the European Theatre Research Network (ETRN). His primary interest is in the intersections between aesthetics and politics in contemporary theatre, drawing on critical philosophy by Hegel, Žižek, Rancière and others. His research focuses on directing, mise en scène, Regie and dramaturgy, with a particular focus on the German- and Dutch-speaking European countries. He currently completes a monograph Regie: Directing Scenes and Senses in European Theatre, and prepares a book on German theatre director Thomas Ostermeier. At Kent, he is involved in the new interdisciplinary Critical Thought Research Centre.

Introduction by Dr Jennifer Parker-Starbuck (Roehampton):



Audience Questions:


tg STAN’s  ‘A Doll’s House’


The London Theatre Seminar is an inter-collegiate seminar hosted by the Institute of English Studies and attracts participants from all theatre departments in London.  The seminar is a public forum for the development of theatre and performance scholarship and its inter-collegiate and collaborative aspects are central to the productively speculative nature of its enquiry.

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