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Dramaturge Wolfgang Wiens Dies

18 MAY 2012

published in: Drama, General

Wolfgang Wiens (Photo: Arno Declair)
The man of the theater Wolfgang Wiens died this past Wednesday in Hamburg. Most recently, he was working with Andrea Breth on Kleist’s Prinz Friedrich von Homburg for the Salzburg Festival. Wolfgang Wiens was considered one of the leading dramaturges in German-language theater, who held positions at almost all the renowned theaters and enjoyed close artistic partnerships with theater stars like Robert Wilson, Andrea Breth and Jürgen Flimm. Furthermore, Wolfgang Wiens was also a successful translator.

Wolfgang Wiens was born in 1941 in Stettin (Szczecin). After obtaining degrees in theater studies and German literature in Frankfurt, Berlin and Vienna, he worked as a dramaturge and stage director at Frankfurt’s legendary TAT from 1966 to 1969, where he also became a member of the directorate between 1971 and 1974. In the meantime, he had also become a publisher and was editor and managing director of the “Verlag der Autoren” publishing house, which he had co-founded, in 1969/1970. However, day-to-day work in the theater never palled for Wiens. After his engagement in Frankfurt, he joined the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg in 1974, where he was a dramaturge until 1977, working with theater stars like Luc Bondy and Jürgen Flimm. After phases at the Schauspiel Frankfurt (1977/1978) and at the Theater in Bremen (1978-1981), Wiens became the dramaturge of the Schauspiel Köln, where he remained until 1985, subsequently moving to Hamburg’s Thalia Theater together with Jürgen Flimm. His close artistic partnership with cult director Robert Wilson also dates from this time, when he worked on many of Wilson’s productions, including Civil Wars, Salome, Black Rider and Danton’s Tod. After his time in Hamburg, Wiens became the dramaturge and a member of the artistic directorship of the Berliner Schaubühne in 1989, before returning to the Thalia Theater in 1994 as chief dramaturge.

He came to Vienna relatively late in life. From 1999 to his retirement in 2006, the experienced man of the theater Wolfgang Wiens was employed as chief dramaturge at the Burgtheater. Working with Sven-Eric Bechtolf, he was responsible there for productions of Clare Boothe Luce’s Damen der Gesellschaft and Albert Ostermaier’s Radio Noir, among others. Recently, Wiens worked only as a freelance dramaturge, for example for Robert Wilson and Andrea Breth. With the latter, he conceived the current production of Heinrich von Kleist’s Prinz Friedrich von Homburg, which premieres on July 28 at the Salzburg Festival and then moves to the Burgtheater during the 2012-2013 season. “Wolfgang Wiens’ sudden death is shocking for me,” Andrea Breth said on Thursday: “He was a special friend to me and the most important preparer and mentor of our works together. We spent a long time preparing Prinz von Homburg, and now all that is left to us is to dedicate this work to him. He is missed not only by me, but by German-language theater in general.”