(from dw.com, 6/7; photo: Berliner Zeitung)

Theater director Claus Peymann has been at the head of major German theaters since 1974 and director of the Berliner Ensemble since 1999. He turns 80 just a few weeks before leaving Bertolt Brecht’s famous institution.


Little Klaus – the name at that time spelled with “K”

Klaus Eberhard Peymann was born on June 7, 1937, into a middle-class family in Bremen. His father was a teacher and a Nazi; his mother opposed National Socialism. Klaus, for his part, rebelled by changing the spelling of his name: “When did ‘Klaus’ turn into ‘Claus’? I don’t know! At some point, it was just easier to write in school,” said Peymann.

It will not be a farewell of his own choice when Claus Peymann leaves the Berliner Ensemble at the end of the season – after 18 years of regency and 190 theater productions. Berlin politicians pushed for his abdication. “I feel like a theater monarch without an empire,” said the theater director, who turned 80 on June 7. “The Berliner Ensemble is my body, my imagination, my mind. I will not go without feeling pain and despair,” he said.

His life and career have been composed of a series of dramatic stations, marked by major rifts, scandals and the determined insistence that theater should be a forum for the humanistic critique of society.

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