Stages are rarely played more than a few dozen times on German-speaking stages. For this reason alone, Thomas Ostermeier's staging of Henrik Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler" in Berlin is a total exception: this Wednesday evening is the 250th performance. It is also unusual that the same six actresses are still on stage as at the premiere in October 2005, almost a decade and a half ago. First and foremost is Katharina Schüttler, who plays the title role. In 2006, Schüttler was honored for her acting performance in this production as actress of the year by the magazine "Theater heute" and with the theater prize "Faust".
ZEIT ONLINE: Dear Ms. Schüttler, as an actress the emotional force at the end of actually hits you Hedda Gabler even after 15 years? As a spectator it always knocks you out.
Katharina Schüttler: The exciting thing about theater is that you can tell a story that has a great impact – that can have completely different backgrounds for the people who create it on stage than for the audience. At the end of the performance, as an actress, I mainly deal with technical matters: doesn't anyone see me when I take off my clean sweater and put on my blood-smeared one? How do you get the blood splatters on the wall so that it looks good, but the blood does not drip on the gun and not on my shoes? Because the shoes are 15 years old and actually long gone, but I definitely don't want to change them. So no theater blood is allowed on the shoes. Then I sit on the floor and stand dead. In the end, I cannot judge how great the force is that this last scene develops. Sometimes I would like to see the pieces that I play in myself. To experience what they do to you as a spectator.
ZEIT ONLINE: It is almost 130 years after the premiere of Hedda Gabler probably not a spoiler anymore if you reveal that Hedda shoots herself at the end of the piece. Before Hedda they directed the same year in 2005 Thomas Ostermeier already the cate in Sarah Kanes Blasted played, a character who is raped. Did you actually think at the time: First I have to play a rape victim, then a suicide victim – can't I even come out of a production in one piece?
Shakers: I have never actually asked myself the question. A figure becomes more interesting the higher its height and the deeper its depth. As an actress, I primarily read a piece of text or a script based on whether I find it appealing to explore the dynamics of the character. And whether it promises to be an exciting journey.
ZEIT ONLINE: The Schaubühnen premiere of Hedda Gabler was in 2005 a few days after her 26th birthday. Classically, this character is cast with somewhat older actresses, although Ibsen says that Hedda is 29. Rosel Zech, who played Hedda in a legendary Bochum production by Peter Zadek, was in her late 30s, Ingrid Bergman still played the character in her late 40s ,
Shakers: That was one of two things that I thought about for a long time. That on the one hand the Hedda is rather cast with forty-year-old actresses, and on the other hand that I was previously Blasted had played at least mentally 14 year old. Hedda was my first adult role, even in films I had almost only played teenagers and high school graduates. I was really surprised that Thomas Ostermeier trusted me. That he even came up with the idea of asking me! It was almost a little surreal.
ZEIT ONLINE: You felt too young for Hedda?
Shakers: I just thought it was the story of a woman who was at a completely different point in her life than I was and that the audience was simply expecting an older Hedda. She is also a highly complex figure. First of all, it is difficult to understand what is going on with this woman. And understand them. I hesitated for about a week to accept Thomas. In the end it was my parents who decided the decision. They said to me: If you don't do this because you are afraid of it, you will regret it all your life. I then accepted and thought: I may not be able to play Hedda, but I will try anyway. I was absolutely certain that we – and above all I – would get one on the nose.
ZEIT ONLINE: Thomas Ostermeier previously had Ibsen's Nora at the theater staged, it was a huge success.
Shakers: I knew that there would be no criticism without the reference Nora and how great Anne Tismer was in the role. I thought we could only lose. On the other hand, I went to the rehearsals extremely relaxed because I had nothing to lose. I never even thought of trying to achieve anything beyond the fact that I would concentrate on my work. I was convinced that I was going to my safe end. Until then I wanted to at least have fun with this Hedda. By letting go, the figure crystallized out of itself.
[Embed] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EpuznSi93A [/ embed]