Home news Jens Harzer is a worthy Iffland ring wearer - culture

Jens Harzer is a worthy Iffland ring wearer – culture

  • The actor Jens Harzer is the new bearer of the Iffland-Ring.
  • Bruno Ganz had chosen him as his successor.
  • It's a worthy choice – Harzer is a very big, subtle and profound human actor and text permutator.

It is a good and worthy decision, and some theater connoisseurs had secretly tipped it: The German actor Jens Harzer, born in 1972, is the new bearer of the Iffland Ring, that honorable piece of jewelery, which is passed on from bearer to bearer in testamentary form. honors each of the most important and worthy "German-speaking theatrical artists. It is one of the most prestigious awards an actor can get. For the last 22 years the Swiss Bruno Ganz was the master of the ring, undoubtedly one of the most ingenious of the guild. Since his death on February 15, there has been a great deal of guesswork as to who among his colleagues would be willing to give away the famous award – or even break the tradition and award the award to a woman for the first time. Since the time of Goethe, the Iffland Ring, a ring of iron, has been handed down exclusively from man to man. He goes back to the once famous actor, playwright and theater director August Wilhelm Iffland (died 1814), who according to legend is said to have received it from Goethe himself. The iron ring carries a large, blue-violet semiprecious stone adorned with Iffland's portrait, surrounded by 28 small diamonds.

Every new sponsor, as the Rule requires, must designate a successor within three months of receiving the gem. But he does not reveal his name, but writes it on a piece of paper, which is deposited in a sealed envelope at the Austrian Ministry of Arts. In the strictest secrecy. Only after the death of the ring bearer, the envelope is opened and the heir of the Iffland-ring announced – totally old-fashioned, this ritual, yes, but still or just because of a wonderful tradition.

Theater The best

The best

He excelled as a celestial being and Hitler, as Faust and Hamlet, he made film career and wrote theater history: To the death of the great acting artist Bruno Ganz.By Christine Dössel


In the case of Bruno Ganz, the announcement of the successor took an unusually long time. It was not until Wednesday of this week Ganz's funeral in Zurich (SZ reported). On Friday finally made Austrian Culture Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) the speculation for the new Iffland Ring Bearer an end and announced the deposited in the envelope name: Jens Harzer. Blümel did not read out a statement written by Ganz – maybe there were none? – but praised Harzer for his "multifaceted work".

The people of Munich could experience Harzer's extraordinary talent even in his early years

Harzer's work is always multifaceted. Both as a theater and as a film actor, as a radio play speaker and even as a speech artist, the 47-year-old is an exception. One of the very big, fine and profound human actors and text penetrators; Since 2009 member of the ensemble – and star – at the Hamburg Thalia Theater. The people of Munich could experience Harzer's extraordinary talent even in his early years. The Wiesbadener, born on March 14, 1972, completed his training at the Munich Otto Falckenberg School, where he was quickly discovered by the director Dieter Dorn and engaged in 1993 at the Kammerspiele. For 16 years Harzer worked "in iron fidelity", as he once said, with and with Dorn, first to the then still completely dominated by the literary theater Dornscher coinage chamber plays, then at the Bavarian State Theater. He was Dorn's darling, Dorn's hope, Dorn's young protagonist, in his "language obsession" very closely connected with his great director and teacher, with whom it came later but also to the disagreement. To love break.

It was at the Munich Kammerspiele, where Harzer first met Bruno Ganz and the two even stood on stage together: in 1996 at the premiere of Botho Strauss' then highly controversial, as with its "Anschwellendem Bocksgesang" in right-conservative context brought piece "Ithaca ": As a wrathful from the war returning, avenging himself at the courtier avenging Odysseus; and the young Harzer as Telemach, his son. From then on, in fact, Harzer regarded himself in a certain way as Ganz's son: as the actor's foster-son of a man who, like no one else, knew how to shape the world out of language and was a role model to him.

So it was also Harzer, who read the funeral oration on Wednesday at the funeral of Bruno Ganz, which Botho Strauss – who was personally prevented – had written for the deceased artist friend. Ganz was not counted among the category of astonishing quick-change artists, it was said, but to that of the incorruptible stylists. He had a "male grace" obsessed. This also applies to the much younger, since his departure from Dorn thoroughly open to modern directorial writings Harzer, who is anything but a testosterone actor.

Something delicately spiked, fine, timeless surrounds all his figures. As they come from other spheres, they sometimes seem strange saints with a higher meaning, dangling, prancing, shimmering. Whether as Caliban in the "Sturm", as Marquis Posa in "Don Carlos", as Peer Gynt, Cyrano de Bergerac or as death at the Salzburg Festival – Jens Harzer is always an event. Unforgettable his eccentric, cranky doctor Astrow, whom he played in 2008 under the masterful direction of Jürgen Gosch in Chekhov's "Uncle Wanja", next to Ulrich Matthes as Wanja. Together, they were then voted "Actors of the Year".

His probably most glorious role was the narrator in Handke's "Still Storm"

Jens Harzer once said of Bruno Ganz, who was so much revered by him: "He is able to hold his own language against the world as if one could increase the duration of words and seconds … He carries out the poet's work." Thus, Harzer also described himself, his admirable ability to think, shape, sing, and make language sound. His probably most glorious role in this regard was that of the first-person narrator in Peter Handke's play "Still Storm", premiered in 2011 at the Salzburg Festival by the – too like his colleague Gosch – died too early Dimiter Gotscheff. A milestone production. Handke's family history, the history of the Carinthian Slovenes, prepared to a multi-layered, historically iridescent language work of art in the continuous leaf rain on Katrin Bracks stage. Jens Harzer wore this almost five-hour evening like Atlas the world – suffering and smooth, both at the same time, virtuoso in every way, ironically soliciting undertones, tasting words, down in the dark depths of sentences. He can do it like no other. With this always slightly weird or crazy Harzer chant, paired with a verpilten smile, a casual handwischbewegung. He became again 2011 actor of the year.

An actor's party is also Kleist's "Penthesilea" directed by Johan Simons, released last year at the Salzburg Festival and now at the Schauspielhaus Bochum in the program: a version of the play for only two premium actors, Jens Harzer and Sandra Hüller. Johan Simons calls the two "interpretive actors" – meaning the wisdom, independence and sovereignty with which these highly gifted people turn such a complex text into great art. Acting. People art. Hüller as an Amazon, Harzer as Achilles, as well-trained as you've never seen him before. Both purring, challenging, extinguishing each other.

With Sandra Hüller, Jens Harzer had already played together in Hans-Christian Schmid's film "Requiem", because he was a ghostly pastor who operated an exorcism. In the series "Babylon Berlin" he most recently played the doctor and the dead brother of the commissioner Gereon Rath. You can also admire his language skills in the highly recommended 22-hour SWR radio drama "Ulysses" by James Joyce from 2012. How Harzer speaks about the Stephen Dedalus is a great Iffland-Ring masterclass.

Literature The Unheard

The Unheard

Many authors from the GDR were censored and could never have presented their texts at the Leipzig Book Fair. The SZ recalls eight of them.


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