Bridge between theater and the world

28 Aug 2023

Drama students learn their craft in a cooperative degree program run by the August Everding Theater Academy and LMU Munich.

Elisa von Issendorf and Esther Beisecker’s question is a good one: “When was the last time you were angry and why?” “Parking,” answers one member of the audience. “It’s personal,” says another.

The two drama students are introducing the play “Anger — An Outburst for Seven” and they add in some more information: Anger is a physical reaction. Something you don’t like to admit or show. It happens in company and in private. And in the theater, too, from time immemorial. The Furies, Medea, Clytemnestra: all great, angry characters who, while they may never have had to wait around in line or bash a vending machine to get a Coke out, were just as familiar with feelings of anger as people are today.

Across a six-week period, Elisa and Esther were there, accompanying the play as it was gradually created, before it premiered in June at the Akademietheater in Munich. They conducted research, kept their fellow students on the neighboring drama course informed, gave feedback, wrote a program booklet and prepared the opening night. Throughout it all, the future audience was always in their mind. Because that’s what it’s all about: building a real bridge between theater and the world.


Drama students from the Theaterakademie and LMU collaborated on the play, which recently premiered at the Theaterakademie August Everding.

© Cordula Treml

“Theater is totally cool”

Elisa recalls a key experience in her life: The play “Inkheart” was being performed at Frankfurt’s Schauspiel theater. A full house of children, she herself in the middle of it. The boy next to her was fidgeting and complaining. But when it started, he went very quiet. After the curtain call, the boy was sitting there, holding on to his seat. He said: “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!” Since then, Elisa has known she’s wanted to enable lots of people, young and old, to experience the very same thing: “That theater is totally cool!”

The master’s program in dramaturgy is a dream come true for Esther and Elisa, they both say. “The training at the academy is unique because we’re already working in drama while we’re studying,” says Esther. The cooperation between LMU and the August Everding Theater Academy allows students to combine theory and practice.

To get onto the master’s program, you not only have to have a bachelor’s degree in the humanities, but you also have to pass an artistic entrance exam, testing your skills in areas such as analyzing dramatic texts as well as demonstrating your artistic vision and previous practical experience. The artistic work of the thirteen drama students currently on the program, who accompany all of the Academy’s productions — musicals and operas as well as plays — is enriched by theater studies content such as method reflection and drama analysis.

A demanding schedule

“You’re building a network for life here,” says Elisa von Issendorf. The students enjoy the atmosphere in the beautiful garden on the eastern side of Munich’s Prince Regent Theater just as much as they enjoy the exchange of ideas with their fellow students at the LMU’s Institute of Theater Studies. But their schedule is certainly demanding: “We have a very, very full timetable,” says Esther. “Just getting through our studies is a challenge!”

The students’ commitment is rewarded with good career prospects. That’s because drama graduates are in demand, as the academy’s president, Professor Barbara Gronau, explains. “The market has grown. What the profession means and what it encompasses, however, is constantly changing.” Dramaturgy itself is increasingly becoming part of a theater’s management system, she adds. “Theaters must strive for visibility and position themselves in the public space,” Gronau explains. “They cannot afford to rest on the canon of old, familiar plays. It’s about corporate identity. How each theater responds to that is going to differ. That is what gives theater its diversity. Staying open: It’s a question of survival.”

Elisa and Esther are in no doubt that theater will continue to thrive going forward. “Theater has always been in a constant state of flux. It is very good at adapting,” says Elisa. “And we are right at the heart of that process; we’re accompanying the transformation.” And she already knows exactly where and how she’s going to do that: as a dramatic advisor at Trier Theater. She’s already signed the contract.

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