Einar Schleef (1944–2001) was not only an outstanding theatre maker, he was also a particularly multifaceted contemporary artist – author, painter, graphic artist, set designer, photographer and actor. In her eulogy for him Elfriede Jelinek wrote: “There were only two geniuses in Germany after the war, Fassbinder in the West, Schleef in the East.”
We miss Einar Schleef, time and again he pushed the boundaries of institutional theatre with his uncompromising, often controversial stagings–whether it was Stringberg’s “Miss Julie” (with B.K. Tragelehn, 1975), Hochhuth’s “Wessis in Weimar” (1993), both at the Berliner Ensemble, or Jelinek’s “Sportstück”(1998) at the Burgtheater in Vienna. Schleef, who “couldn’t find any Germany”, neither in the East nor in the West and not at all after the fall of the Wall, stands as a solitary figure in the German theatrical landscape. In the 1980s, when the individual was being celebrated on stage in the West, Schleef brought the chorus back on stage at the Schauspiel Frankfurt. Often misunderstood and met with hostility at the time, he is now considered a visionary.
In this thirtieth year after the fall of the Wall we will remember the radical theatre maker and author on the occasion of his 75th birthday, giving voice to his texts once again.
“Remembering is work. What I didn’t know when I left the GDR was how big my inner baggage was and how powerful the memories, and how great the shock from the new environment, the new life circumstances,” he wrote in 1992 in his five-volume diaries 1953–2001, which he had already begun writing when he was nine years old, and which he continued to write over, looking back and commenting on them until his early death. These extensive diaries, a memory “from below”, in which Schleef ruthlessly interwove everyday life with history, are the main starting point for both the HAU co-production “Tarzan Rescues Berlin” by Audick/Bosse/Cuvelier/Groß as well as the event “Remembering is Work”, in which films will be shown, the actors Benny Claessens and Mira Partecke will read Schleef texts, and a variety of artists – Etel Adnan, Fabian Hinrichs, Luise Meier, Masha Qrella and Tatjana Turanskyj – have been invited to comment on Schleef’s work from their viewpoint in the present.
Accompanying the festival, a new edition of the HAU-publication series came out. With texts by Etel Adnan and Luise Meier, an interview with Einar Schleef by Stefan Brunner from the year 2000, excerpts from his diaries and photographs by Einar Schleef, quotations by companions and an introduction by Aenne Quiñones, Hans-Ulrich Müller-Schwefe and Sabine Reich.