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Behind the scenes controversy at Zurich theatre

The theatre in Zurich looks like it will be ending its current season in the red Keystone

A conflict between "art and money" has led to the resignation of the administrative director of one of Switzerland's leading theatres.

This content was published on December 7, 2001 - 08:00

Since joining the Schauspielhaus staff in Zurich 11 years ago, Marcel Müller had overseen an improvement in the financial situation. But the theatre appears to be ending its current season in the red because of the higher than expected cost of work on an additional performance venue - and a dramatic fall in ticket sales.

Müller's departure - next year - was officially announced by the head of the city's cultural department, Jean-Pierre Ruby, who is also a member of the governing body of the Schauspielhaus.

In a statement, he referred to the subtext of a drama which has been more or less running in the theatre since Christoph Marthaler's first production season as artistic director.

"Irreconcilable" needs

Saying he regretted Müller's resignation while at the same time understanding its reasons, Ruby indicated that the artistic director's needs had been "irreconcilable" with efforts by Müller to keep within the limited financial means at his disposal.

The conflict between "art and money", he added, had been bound to lead to tension.

Ruby's remarks came shortly after Zurich's mayor, Josef Estermann, revealed to the city parliament that audience figures in the Schauspielhaus had so far this season dropped by about 50 per cent compared with figures for Marthaler's first production season as artistic director, which began in October 2000.

If the trend continued, he said, the theatre could expect a deficit of about SFr3.5 million ($2.1 million) for the current season.

Eastermann also referred to controversies surrounding recent productions at the theatre, saying that many members of the public had been critical of a production of Hamlet - directed by Christoph Schlingensief - which introduced neo-Nazi elements into the interpretation of Shakespeare's play.

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