Dr. Thomas Oberender

Dr Thomas Oberender was born in 1966, studied Theatre Studies and Scenic Writing in Berlin and worked as a freelance playwright, critic, essayist and publicist. As the co-founder of the theatre writers’ association Theater neuen Typs (Theatre of a New Kind), he presented new theatre texts written in the German language in Berlin from 1997. In 1999 he completed his PhD on Botho Strauß and was subsequently appointed Head Dramaturg at Schauspielhaus Bochum. For the Ruhrtriennale he devised the literary festivals “Wiedererrichtung des Himmels” (2004) and “Schule der Romantik” (2005). He became Co-Director at Schauspielhaus Zürich for the 2005/06 season, before moving to become Head of Theatre at the Salzburg Festival until 2011. He also developed the event series “Die Erfindung der Freiheit” for the European Capital of Culture RUHR 2010.

He was Director of the Berliner Festspiele from 2012 to 2021 and Artistic Director of the Immersion programme that he created from 2016 to 2021. Here he devised new experiential spaces between exhibition and performance which have included the interdisciplinary formats “Schule der Distanz” (2016), “Limits of Knowing” (2017) and “INTO WORLDS. The Craft of Blurring Boundaries” (2018). The series The New Infinity that he has conceived together with Planetarium Hamburg has opened up the planetarium as a site for the work of artists in the digital age since 2018.

In 2019 the exhibition by Philippe Parreno that he initiated at the Gropius Bau was selected as “Exhibition of the Year 2018”. As a curator Oberender was responsible along with Tino Seghal for the time-based exhibition “Welt ohne Außen. Immersive Spaces since the 1960s” in 2018 and, as part of a wider curatorial team, for the “Palast der Republik” in 2019. The re-examination of the historical transformation of Eastern Germany since 1989 has become an additional focus for his work in recent years.

He has published numerous books, including “Nebeneingang oder Haupteingang? – Gespräche über 50 Jahre Schreiben fürs Theater” (Side Entrance or Main Entrance? – Conversations about 50 Years of Writing for the Theatre, 2014, together with Peter Handke), “Leben auf Probe. Wie die Bühne zur Welt wird” (Life in Rehearsal. How the Stage becomes a World, 2009), the anthology “The New Infinity. New Art in Planetariums” (2019), the artists’ conversation “Occupy History. Decolonisation of Memory” (2019) and most recently “Empowerment Ost. Wie wir zusammen wachsen” (2020).

As of January 2022

Dr Thomas Oberender

© Christoph Neumann

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