Behind the Words – The actress Gisela Stein

(an exhibition by Birgit Pargner)

April 26 to October 15, 2017
at the German Theatre Museum in Munich

With an incomparable radicalism the actress Gisela Stein (1934-2009) devoted her life to the theatre.

Following her first appearances in Koblenz, Krefeld and Essen, she performed at the Staatliche Schauspielbühnen in Berlin from 1960, with various breaks, up until 1979. At this theatre the extraordinarily talented actress – who also guested on the stages in Munich, Hamburg, Zürich and Stuttgart – soon developed into one of the outstanding stage actresses of her time.

In 1980 she moved to the Munich Kammerspiele, where together with the director and later intendant Dieter Dorn and the members of his legendary ensemble – for example, Helmut Griem, Rolf Boysen, Peter Lühr, Thomas Holtzmann and Cornelia Froboess – she joined an incomparable working symbiosis.
In 2001 she followed Dieter Dorn for a further six years at the Bavarian Staatsschauspiel.

With a remarkable will to survive, utmost discipline and her undiminished great love
for the theatre, the fifty-year-old achieved the unimaginable: following a serious car accident in August 1983, the consequences of which almost completely destroyed her body and engaged her in a lifelong battle, she returned to the stage one year later.  

Whether playing Iphigenia, Hecuba, Atossa or a protagonist in modern plays, as an initiator of images, feelings and associations, the actress time and again brought to light new hidden levels of meaning in roles and plays, flowing from her incredibly deep insight into the texts.

The exhibition evokes memories of this great interpreter of roles with a large number of photographs, costumes and cinematic production excerpts.

Recollections of her artistic companions as well as Gisela Steins own observations in correspondence, diaries and interviews document in words and writing the life’s work of a personality which ultimately came to epitomise the acting profession.