Home news Relatives in voice and expression | TIME ONLINE

Relatives in voice and expression | TIME ONLINE

You heard Bruno Ganz One of the following biblical statements came to mind: "If your heart is full, your mouth will shut." For something of the overflowing speeches was to be felt, even if he spoke only a few words: warmth, melody, hospitable joke, Hintersinn, life experience gave tension to his sentences. As if what he finally said was only the bung, which had been driven by an inner overpressure from the silence of the thinking artist Bruno Ganz.

And so it is with the man, whom he chose as his successor, the new bearer of the Iffland-Ring: Jens Harzer, born 1972 in Wiesbaden. When he plays, he always looks as if his text is not by Kleist, Chekhov or Handke, but as if Harzer had made him with himself and as he was wildly responsible for all publications consequences. He is a singular phenomenon in the German theater with an unmistakable tone. He seems to find his sentences first in speech, and sometimes he sets breakneck pauses between predicate and object. His sentence buildings stagger as he builds them. Often his mouth is open, as if listening to his own thinking movements; as if he himself was surprised by what is going on inside him. Sometimes he blows his cheeks as if he has something acidic that he has to swallow before he can continue. His thinking is physical, every idea must be with him through flesh and blood. This is a style, but one that cradles the actor with his figure – it enhances the presence of both.

The Iffland-Ring is said to be the most important actor award in the German-speaking world. According to the tradition, Goethe already had it in his hands; he is said to have handed over the diamond-studded iron trinket to the great August Wilhelm Iffland (1759-1814), who passed it on shortly before his death to Louis Devrient.

It would be better to call the ring the most valuable player award. Because he is bound to lifetimes: whoever has him carries him to the end. Anyone who receives it must, at the latest three months after receiving it from its predecessor, determine the next bearer by will. There is also a bit of a curse on him, because the ring is there to "survive" and leave the wearer, and indeed, men who should receive it have died before they can receive it – Alexander Girardi, Max Pallenberg, Alexander Moissi and most recently the great Gert Voss, who had actually been selected by Bruno Ganz as the new wearer. Voss died in 2014, and Ganz had to look for another successor.

Ganz died on February 16, 2019, and it is only now known who he bequeathed the ring to. He chose the actor Jens Harzer as his successor, who was the most familiar, who was closest in voice and expression. Both, like Harzer, have the same pensive, reluctantly elegant masculinity; both are masters in enhancing their effect – and yet distrust all effect technique. Both are at once hymns and laconic.

There is something moving about Ganz Ganz Harzer: Ganz, when he saw Harzer on stage, must have seemed like a younger, taller brother, maybe even a son. He could not have made a better choice.

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