Max Reinhardt Seminar Students in a Production by Nicolas Charaux at the Vestibül

The Burgtheater has just kicked off its first season under the leadership of Martin Kušej. And prior to this year’s summer break, the incoming artistic director’s team was already emphasising their theatre’s responsibility to support the next generation of artists at the presentation of this season’s programme. In this respect, the Burgtheater’s present cooperation with the Max Reinhardt Seminar represents an important step—above all for the actors currently training at the mdw.

Co-productions and other forms of collaboration with professional theatres have come to be permanent components of the Max Reinhardt Seminar’s acting programme. And in the production of Dino Pešut’s Der (vor)letzte Panda oder die Statik overseen by guest director Nicolas Charaux, the Seminar’s students are now taking the stage at the Burgtheater’s “Vestibül” venue. Prior to beginning work on his production, Nicolas Charaux—himself a 2014 graduate of the Max Reinhardt Seminar’s stage directing programme—looked forward eagerly to this collaboration: “I have some pretty vivid memories of the productions I was part of as a Seminar student, and I still think they’re among the most interesting projects in which I’ve been involved. I’m talking about more than just their results—it’s also about how we worked together. There was a feeling of trust there, of freedom, and of enthusiasm for rehearsing—things that the overall situation at this or that city theatre doesn’t always make possible.”

Nicolas Charaux © privat

When he’s in town, the director makes a point of frequently taking in Max Reinhardt Seminar productions. “As a student, you’re still somewhat sheltered. You can give yourself over entirely to one single thing. You’re free to try out what you want, and it’s also okay to fail. That’s very important, and it’s a wonderful premise under which to do theatre.”

Dino Pešut’s play is about four young people—all of whom were born in Sisak, a small town in Croatia, in 1990—whose childhoods were overshadowed by war. For this play, the Croatian author (himself born in 1990) received the 2018 Deutscher Jugendtheaterpreis [German Youth Theatre Award]. “He creates this wonderful overall impression of a young generation in search of its identity before the backdrop of a society that’s growing ever more divided. The story revolves around four people who bear within them the fresh traumas of a war that nobody’s really gotten over yet, though they’re otherwise very much like the rest of us in all kinds of ways,” said the director with his eyes trained on the play’s upcoming première. In working with actors, it’s above all “trust, the joy of acting itself, and a penchant for precision” that are important to Charaux.

Tamara Metelka © Binh Truong

Tamara Metelka and Florian Reiners, who both belong to the Max Reinhardt Seminar’s leading team, likewise harbour great expectations for this new production: “We’ve already done occasional projects together with the Burgtheater in the past, and we’re looking forward quite a lot to the upcoming production at the Vestibül. Performances like these enable students to confront the realities of professional theatrical work: they experience how a production runs at a large theatre, and that helps them to prepare for their future everyday working lives.”

Florian Reiners © Marcus Gaertner

Student actors were chosen for this production in a process that involved both the theatre and the guest director. “For the Seminar, the students’ respective levels of training represent one of the key elements in such decisions,” explain Metelka and Reiners. Throughout the rehearsal process, the students are accompanied by teaching staff members from the Max Reinhardt Seminar. “The instructors maintain an ongoing working dialogue with the students and also—in coordination with the directorial level—support them both in their preparations and in their work during the rehearsal phase.” For both acting and directing students, it’s not uncommon for such cooperative arrangements to end up being starting points for careers at Viennese theatres. During the season that’s currently beginning, for instance, the still-young directing graduate Mira Stadler will be heading up a production at the Burgtheater, while 2018 acting graduate Max Gindorff will also be arriving there. “For these two, their being hired represents an ideal transition from their studies to their working lives. We’re very proud of Mira Stadler and Max Gindorff, as we are of all Max Reinhardt Seminar graduates, and we’re looking forward to experiencing their productions soon,” says the Seminar’s happily expectant leading team of these two graduates’ success.

Der (vor)letzte Panda (in its first-ever German-language production, to première on 26 Sept.) can be seen as part of the series “Burgtheater Studio”, with which the theatre is making a point of reaching out to young audiences—in this case, to young people ages 14 and up.

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