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Inventing the Existing World

4 AUG 2011

published in: Opera, General

Anna Viebrock, Photo: Wildbild
Anna Viebrock’s works are considered unique documents of postmodern theatrical development during the past 20 years. Her inventions as a set designer and increasingly as a stage director for drama and musical theater, starting in the 1990s, developed through her collaborations with directors Christoph Marthaler and Jossi Wieler into a distinctive success story and became a force in the German-language and international theater world, influencing theater-makers, but also artists and architects at home and abroad.

Viebrock’s works are marked by a sensitive, subversive realism. They are full of surreal logics and surprising mechanics, running contrary to any appearance of everyday life. Viebrock deconstructs the architecture of garages, boats, beer tents, bunkers, churches or airplane cabins, and reconstructs them in her stage designs, creating complex and hyper-real spaces. This results in mysterious spaces of remembrance and survival, complex systems which the actors traverse like labyrinths.

The voluminous monograph Das Vorgefundene erfinden takes up the thread of Anna Viebrock’s first book, published exactly ten years ago (Damit die Zeit nicht stehen bleibt, Theater der Zeit). Since then, she has invented numerous stage sets and costumes for Christoph Marthaler, Jossi Wieler, Hans Neuenfels and Meg Stuart; these were seen at the Theater in Zurich, the Papal Palace in Avignon, Opéra national de Paris, the Bayreuth Festival, the Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin, the Basel Theater as well as the Stuttgart State Opera, the Theater in Cologne and Vienna Festwochen.

Anna Viebrock has worked as a stage director at many opera houses and theaters, including the Opéra national de Paris, Theater Basel, State Opera Hanover, the Theater in Cologne and Berlin’s Hebbel-Theater. The book presents an overview of her work in large-scale, colorful tableaus of exemplary productions, flanked by quotations by Anna Viebrock. In addition, there is an extensive biography and bibliography, accompanying texts and essays by major artists and scientists like Jürg Laederach, Götz Leineweber, Ernst Surberg and Hans-Thies Lehmann.

Anna Viebrock has won multiple awards from the magazines Theater heute and Opernwelt as Set and Costume Designer of the Year. Her production of Hans-Joachim Hespos’ musical theater piece iOPAL at the State Opera Hanover was named World Premiere of the Year 2004. In 1997 she won the Hessian Cultural Award and in 2008 the Berlin Theater Prize. Since 2009, Anna Viebrock has been a member of the Berlin Academy of the Arts.

The volume, which features many illustrations, was published by the publishing house Theater der Zeit and features Viebrock’s 30 most important productions from 30 years.