The theatre in 2007
|Former names||Volkstheater am Pfauen|
The Schauspielhaus Zürich (English: Zürich playhouse) is one of the most prominent and important theatres in the German-speaking world. It is also known as "Pfauenbühne" (Pfauen Stage). The large theatre has 750 seats. The Schauspielhaus also operates three stages in the Schiffbau in the western part of Zurich, the Schiffbau/Halle (400 seats), the Schiffbau/Box (up to 200 seats) and the Schiffbau/Matchbox (80 seats).
The building was constructed in 1892 as the Volkstheater am Pfauen (People's Theater on the Pfauen Square) with a Bavarian beer garden and a bowling alley. It served initially as a music hall or vaudeville stage. In 1901 the building was rented by the director of the Zürich Opera House and opened as a play house with Goethe's comedy Die Mitschuldigen (The Accomplices). From 1903 until 1926 the play house was run by a private cooperative.
In 1926 Zürich wine wholesaler and play house director Ferdinand Rieser acquired the house and had it renovated. Then in 1938 it was leased to the Neue Schauspiel AG, a company founded by the city of Zürich in order to save the theater from its financial difficulties. When the lease ran out in 1952, the citizens of Zürick refused to purchase the house for the proposed price of 3 million Swiss francs. Upon their refusal, UBS AG, a Swiss banking group, stepped in to purchase the building and arranged a new lease arrangement with the Neue Schauspiel AG.
However, the effort to establish an ambitious theater in Zürich was met with little success at first, and until 1933 the theater was rarely thought of outside of Switzerland.
After the rise of the Nazis in 1933, however, many important actors and directors immigrated to Switzerland from Germany and Austria. With the help of these artists, the theater achieved great success, staging many anti-fascist works, importantly the world-premiers of several plays by Bertolt Brecht. During this time the Schauspielhaus Zürich was the largest free stage in the German-speaking world, as stages in Germany and Austria were strictly regulated.
After the war, the theater retained its important place in world and German-language theater. During this time it saw world premiers of such important playwrights as Max Frisch, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Carl Zuckmayer, Georges Schehadé, Botho Strauß and Yasmina Reza.
From 2000 to 2004 the theater experienced with Christoph Marthaler as director a new artistic blooming and was chosen as theater of the year twice by Theater heute (Theater Today), the most important and widely read German theater publication.
Since summer 2009 Schauspielhaus Zürich is headed by Barbara Frey. The house's repertoire spans over the whole history of theatre literature, from the old Greek up to the first performances of contemporary plays.
- 1929Ferdinand Rieser–1938 –
- 1938Oskar Wälterlin, Otto Tausig–1961 –
- 1961Kurt Hirschfeld–1964 –
- 1965Leopold Lindtberg–1968 –
- 1968Teo Otto, Erwin Parker, Otto Weissert–1969 –
- 1969Peter Löffler–1970 –
- 1970Harry Buckwitz–1977 –
- 1978Gerhard Klingenberg–1982 –
- 1982Gerd Heinz–1989 –
- 1989Achim Benning–1992 –
- 1992Gerd Leo Kuck–1999 –
- 1999Reinhard Palm–2000 –
- 2000Christoph Marthaler–2004 –
- 2004Andreas Spillmann–2005 –
- 2005Matthias Hartmann–2009 –
- 2009Barbara Frey –