German director Peter Zadek dead at 83: theatre

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 30, 2009 at 12:11 PM EST

Legendary German theatre and film director Peter Zadek has died at the age of 83 after a long illness, the theatre in the northern city of Hamburg where he frequently staged productions said Thursday.

"He died overnight in hospital" in Hamburg, the Sankt Pauli Theatre said.

Reacting to the news of Zadek's death, Culture Minister Bernd Neumann said the German theatre had lost "one of the most significant directors of the present day."

"It was he, more than almost any other artist, who shaped and changed the landscape of the German stage since the 1960s," added Neumann.

Born in Berlin in May 1926, Zadek was widely regarded as one of the greatest directors in German-speaking theatre.

He was born into a Jewish family and emigrated with his parents to Britain in 1933 when the Nazis took power in Germany.

They lived first in London but fled during World War II to Oxford where Zadek first discovered his love of theatre.

Determined to turn this passion into a career, Zadek returned to London to study at the Old Vic theatre, and his first productions there included Oscar Wilde's "Salome" and T.S. Eliot's "Sweeney Agonistes."

In 1957, he directed the first performance of Jean Genet's "The Balcony" in London.

Returning to Germany in 1958, Zadek worked in the theatre in Bremen for six years from 1962 and was appointed head of the Schauspielhaus theatre in Bochum from 1972 until 1975.

Zadek directed his first opera, Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro", in 1983.

From 1985 to 1989, he was head of the Deutsches Schauspielhaus in Hamburg and then became co-director of the world-famous Berliner Ensemble in Berlin from 1992 to 1994.

He also worked at the Burgtheater in Vienna, where he directed stagings of "The Merchant of Venice", and legendary productions of Chekhov.

In the Austrian capital, he famously directed "Hamlet" as part of the Wiener Festwochen festival in 1999 with a woman -- German actress Angela Winkler -- in the title role.

Zadek also directed a number of films for television.




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