F.rank Castorf is seventy. Well, that’s nothing special. It’s not an achievement, it’s a condition. Many are turning seventy. He can’t help it, he didn’t work for it, for example through a healthy lifestyle, on the contrary. In addition, he says he is a fatalist. Nor is it the hundred that Herbert Köfer has reached – the oldest still working actor in the world. Should Frank Castorf reach the hundred, however, then I am convinced that he will be the oldest working director in the world, and at the same time the laziest. That is a contradiction, but only an apparent one. It is a productive laziness, a slow tormenting oneself to work. In the first rehearsal, which is always delayed, this ends in sentences like: “What do we want to do?” Or: “I don’t know.”
The tormenting of the ran naturally shortens the rehearsal time because the date of the premiere is fixed. At the same time, he is also a great guarantee of deadlines and for that reason one of the customers’ favorites. You can count on one hand how often Frank Castorf postponed a premiere in his mass production. Natural events have to occur, such as broken metatarsus or the protagonists’ hands torn by monkeys. And then there is still the wheelchair.
However, he is also a big latecomer. He’s notoriously late. It can be hours or days. I like it because he doesn’t just allow being late for himself. It’s not about punctuality, it’s about effectiveness. He probably learned that as a young pioneer railroader. Punctuality is the enemy of creativity. This of course also shrinks the rehearsal time and leads to endless rehearsals shortly before the showdown. The players walk on their gums and the coach sits on his bench and is on top form. He doesn’t play the director for anyone, which I had often seen with others who were busy portraying their role as a director instead of staging. And the actors don’t have to present themselves as actors with the appropriate attitude. It’s always about the topic, and nagging turns into ecstatic passion. This connects us. And this is how it started:
He sat pointed-nosed and nickel-eyed at a gas heater with his girlfriend Gabi at the time and waited for a potato soup with sausages, which he was not ready to share with me, as I found out later when he was addressing me in a laudatory speech (I was just an actor of the year) complained that I was voracious and stingy. Otherwise he’s already a patron. But the fun stops with potato soups and especially with the sausages. So we sat by the gas heater, spooned Gabi’s soup (who, by the way, was also my friend, platonically of course, so a comrade) and complained to each other about our fate. The Brandenburg theater, at which he was engaged, didn’t let him work, and I didn’t want to work because I had lost the directors (heading west).
We were bound by a great boredom and the thought, if only one could do what one wanted. Nevertheless, our inaction was supported. In a country where the right to work was constitutional, we got our boredom paid for. What calmed but not satisfied. And so began a strange friendship. We talked about God and the world and women. Gaby had raved about the young director with genius potential before. But as a capital city actor and television actor, I had snootily ignored the province. We met more and more often at Gaby’s, and there was also a closeness of thoughts.
Frank Castorf turns seventy.
He was as old then as he feels today – around thirty and very shy. He had made the first productions in the directing team, then the rule was not yet: “The strong man is the most powerful alone.” Frank Castorf is turning seventy and is a multiple record holder.
I would say that in German-language theater history he was seventy years old
1. most productions,
2. Made the longest performances with the shortest rehearsal times