Frank Castorf's 'Baal' – Director's Theater on Trial: Theater Directors in Conflict with Copyright Law in Germany
20 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2016
Date Written: April 28, 2016
In 2015, the Munich District Court dealt with the staging of the play "Baal" by Bertolt Brecht in Munich Residenztheater. The heirs of the author claimed that the director of the play, Frank Castorf, a giant of German "Regietheater" (Director's Theater) had taken too much liberty in working with the text instead of staging a faithful interpretation. The case stirred uproar in Germany and shed light on the relationship of copyright laws and postmodern theater interpretations.
This lawsuit (settled after all) concerning a director’s creative freedom serves as the starting point in this paper to examine the relationship between copyright law and Regietheater in German theater and legal practice.
Part I retraces the conflict between the Residenztheater and the Brecht-estate giving an account of the litigation.
In Part II, the topic is broadly positioned in the field of copyright law - a field of law rewarding creativity and individuality of authors.
In Part III, the treatment of director’s theater in the practice of German courts will be retraced. For this, the case law is reviewed.
Part IV provides a perspective on related techniques from other cultural branches (likes sampling, mash-ups or hacking), and it explains two seminal judgments by German courts, "Metall auf Metall" and "Germania 3".
Finally, Part V concludes with thoughts on Director's Theater and Castorf's role in postmodern theater.
Keywords: Baal, Brecht, theater, copyright, Regietheater, Director's Theater
JEL Classification: Z10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation