What does art have to do with the Earth’s climate?

To me, sustainability means… cloth instead of plastic.

Climate change is relevant to the cultural world because… I was recently at a municipal office and heard that they’ll only be turning on every second candle in the Christmas lighting this year. Imagine that happening with the spotlights onstage!

Art can change the world by… highlighting visions.

Maria Happel © Jeanne Degraa

Climate change makes itself noticed in my work … in that we reeuse stage design elements and costumes.

My personal contribution to climate protection is… drinking from a thermos instead of a plastic bottle!

For the future, I hope for peace and collective solutions!

In the series “What do the arts have to do with the Earth’s climate?”, the “Green mdw” initiative is inviting concerned individuals to speak out on their personal approaches to this issue. After all, the connections are obvious—or are they? Just how diverse are the perspectives from which mdw faculty members, students, administrators, and alumni as well as other active artists think about our climate, sustainability, and their own professional practice?

Maria Happel, born in Spessart, Germany in 1962, joined the ensemble of the Burgtheater in Vienna following engagements in Cologne, Hannover, and Bremen between 1991 and 1999. In 2000, she transferred to the Berliner Ensemble before returning to the Burgtheater in the 2002/2003 season, and the years since then have seen her work together with directors including Klaus Maria Brandauer, Ruth Berghaus, Adolf Dresen, Barbara Frey, Werner Schröter, Paulus Manker, Dimiter Gotscheff, Karin Henkel, and David Bösch. Alongside her theatrical work, Happel has appeared in numerous film and television productions—and on top of her activities as an actor, she has also led the Reichenau Festival since 2021. Maria Happel has taught Role Development at the Department of Drama (Max Reinhardt Seminar) since 2003 and was appointed as a professor of role development in 2020, since which time she has also served as her department’s head.

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