Josephine Bloéb and Meo Wulf, both recently graduated from the Max Reinhardt Seminar, are building their onstage careers with lots of energy and selfconfidence. They’re now ensemble members at the Theater in der Josefstadt and can be seen onstage in two roles each. And they’re part of one very successful graduating class.
There was hardly any time to realise they’d actually graduated: right after completing their degrees at the Max Reinhardt Seminar this summer, Josephine Bloéb and Meo Wulf had to start preparing their roles for the new season. And this autumn, both of them became ensemble members at the Theater in der Josefstadt.
By now, Niemand—a play by Ödön von Horváth that was only discovered in the 1990s—has already received its world première in a production by director Herbert Föttinger. In this story about a group of young people whom economic crisis has pushed to the very limits of survival, Bloéb—who was born in Innsbruck in 1992—portrays a waitress known simply as “The Successor”. In this July interview, given in the midst of rehearsals, she was not yet able to divulge much about her role. “It’s new territory because no one before me has ever played this character. So it’s tough because I can’t use anyone else’s performances for inspiration. But it’s very exciting, because for now, this role is all mine.” Bloéb’s second character is a seamstress in Nestroy’s farce Das Mädl aus der Vorstadt, which will première on 1 December under the direction of Michael Schottenberg. “It’s going to be colourful, witty, and satirical. The seamstresses are fun and very sly girls.” The actress is also looking forward to her character’s songs, since she’s always dreamed about detouring into musicals—she’d like most of all to play Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd.
Meo Wulf, for his part, will already be playing one of his dream roles in 2017: from 26 January, he’ll be appearing as Harold in Colin Higgins’s classic Harold and Maude. Under the stage direction of Michael Schottenberg, the Hamburg native (*1992)—who hit the stage for the first time at age twelve at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus and has been part of the television series Familie Dr. Kleist since 2013—will appear opposite Erni Mangold as Maude. Wulf is looking forward to the play’s première with happy excitement: “With this unbelievable play and the unbelievable Erni Mangold as my partner, I do think to myself: Oh my god, what have I gotten into?” Wulf has been developing his portrayal of the young man with a death wish who falls for an unconventional elderly lady ever since July. “I’m really looking forward to playing this weird young fellow. And I’m currently busy observing the various quirks people have in order to adopt some for Harold.” Even before taking the stage in this lead role, Wulf will be playing in Die Verdammten under the stage direction of Elmar Goerden, which will première on 10 November. His character there is Günther von Essenbeck, a member of an influential family of industrialists that experienced its tragic downfall when Hitler came to power in Germany.
The two young actors have never regretted deciding to study at the Max Reinhardt Seminar; the only things they would have liked to work on more there were improvisation and performance art. “I really do feel well trained,” says Wulf. Bloéb agrees – and the only thing she needs to do now, she says, is to organise her mental hard drive, which is chock full of information. Wulf says that after graduation, though, another point is to let go: “We now have to figure out what we really want to do on stage.”
Both agree that what fascinates them about their profession is telling stories. “Dealing with a certain topic for a long period of time, getting to know new characters and, with them, always something new about myself, as well,” explains Bloéb. And Wulf adds: “You wear other clothes, you look different. It’s like living another life for a short while. You don’t have that anywhere else—it’s just not something you can do. You’d immediately be marked as a fraud.”
Despite all the enthusiasm and fun that are so important to both of them, they don’t view theatre as pure entertainment. In her work, Bloéb considers it very important to hold up a mirror to society and give the audience impulses for self-reflection. “To me, acting means seeking out a type of conversation—but without passing judgment on anyone. It’s left to the audience to form their own opinions.” Theatre can put new ideas into audience members’ heads and show them the world, says Wulf: “Everybody lives in their own cosmos, which solidifies more and more over the course of time. The theatre is a very important place where you show other places, other people, other lives, other patterns of behaviour.”
With their successful starts into professional life, Josephine Bloéb and Meo Wulf are by no means alone, by the way. Numerous others among this year’s Max Reinhardt Seminar graduates can likewise be happy about full-time positions and contracts for individual productions. Luka Vlatkovic, who has already been seen this year in Iwanow at Vienna’s Volkstheater, is now a member of the ensemble there. On 16 October, he’ll be appearing in Alles Walzer, alles brennt. Also playing in Iwanow—but at Munich’s Residenztheater—is Pauline Fusban. That theatre’s artistic director Martin Kušej, who teaches directing at the Max Reinhardt Seminar, offered her a permanent position in the ensemble. Stefan Gorski and Andrei Tacu have now been hired full-time at the Schauspielhaus in Düsseldorf and can thus continue their friendship, which arose during their studies, onstage: in Romeo und Julia, Gorski will be playing Romeo and Tacu will portray Mercutio.
Starting in November, Michaela Saba will be seen alongside Nicholas Ofczarek in Geächtet by Ayad Akhtar at Vienna’s Burgtheater. Lukas Watzl is engaged for two productions at the Volkstheater in Vienna, where he’s been playing in David Lindsay-Abaire’s Mittelschichtblues since 30 September. Also working at the Volkstheater is Michael Köhler: from 20 November, he’ll be seen in Franz Grillparzer’s Medea. And the directing programme graduates are also in demand: Since mid-September, Evgeny Titov has been rehearsing a production of Mein Herz ist rein at the Staatsschauspiel Dresden, to be followed in March 2017 by Hexenjagd at Düsseldorf’s Schauspielhaus. Felix Hafner will be directing a production of Molière’s Der Menschenfeind at the Volkstheater. And David Stöhr is off to the Schaubühne in Berlin: as assistant to that theatre’s artistic director, stage director Thomas Ostermeier, Stöhr will also be leading productions on his own.