German film artist Jan Speckenbach ingeniously contributed to the development of live video on the stage, and this discussion focuses on his education, as well his as experimental collaborations with director Frank Castorf at the Volksbühne Berlin, starting in 2000. Speckenbach’s background in film and media studies facilitated his explorations of uncharted territory in the theatre, going from a set of fixed cameras on the stage to the use of a camera crew with live-editing for augmented images as part of the whole directing concept and process. His first-hand insights into how actors have interacted with this new technology and how filmmaking can be an integral part of the theatre indicate clearly that filmmaking has played an invaluable role in recent theatre history. Speckenbach here also speaks of his collaborations with other directors, notably Sebastian Hartmann and René Pollesch, and about the future perspectives of this technology, which has changed the theatre altogether.
Jan Speckenbach studied art history, philosophy, and media in Karlsruhe, Munich, and Paris during the 1990s. At the beginning of the new millennium he participated in the development of video theatre with Frank Castorf and, now a successful filmmaker, he also continues to work in the theatre. His short film Gestern in Eden [Yesterday in Eden] premiered at Cannes in 2008, while the full-length feature film Die Vermissten [The Missing] was shown at the 2012 Berlinale and Freiheit [Freedom] at the 2017 film competition at Locarno. In 2020 he directed the live-stream of Der Zauberberg [The Magic Mountain, after Thomas Mann’s novel] at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin (premiered online in November 2019), which was subsequently invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen. Thomas Irmer is the editor-in-chief of the Berlin-based monthly Theater der Zeit. He has co-edited two books on the work of Frank Castorf – Zehn Jahre Volksbühne Intendanz Frank Castorf (2003) and Castorf (2016). During the last forty years he has authored, among other significant writings, numerous analytical articles and interviews on Castorf’s creative output.