Hans Hollmann (director)

Hans Hollmann (born Graz, 4 February 1933) is a theatre director and actor.[1] He has also worked as a university lecturer and has a doctorate in jurisprudence. Despite having been born in Austria, for many years Hollmann has lived with his family in Basel, Switzerland.[2]

Hans Hollmann
Born4 February 1933
Citizenship1. Austrian
2. Swiss
OccupationTheatre director
Spouse(s)Reinhild Solf
ChildrenAnna Joséphine
Caspar Florian (d 2001)
Parent(s)Prof. Hans Hollmann


Hans Hollmann's father, also called Hans Hollmann, was well known in and around Graz as a music teacher. His mother was also a teacher.[1] Hollmann attended the Gymnasium (school) in Graz and then progressed to the local university, emerging in 1956 with a doctorate in jurisprudence.[1] He then switched to drama, as he studied at the Reinhardt Seminar at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna.[2] In 1958 he received a diploma in acting.[2]

He then made a start professionally, both an actor and as a director, at Vienna's Josefstadt Theatre. His breakthrough as a director came in the 1964/65 season with a production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Heidelberg Theatre.[2] In 1967 he achieved wider recognition internationally with a production of Ödön von Horváth's "Italian Night" at the Stuttgart State Theatre: the production later moved on to Berlin's Kurfürstendamm Theatre.[3]

In December 1974 he directed the first comprehensive production of The Last Days of Mankind by Karl Kraus,[4] over two evenings in the foyer of the Basel Theatre,[5] which raised him to the status of one of the top theatre directors in German speaking central Europe. The next years he was appointed to the directorship of the theatre, a position he held for three years till 1978.[6]

He later reprised his The Last Days of Mankind for the 1980 Vienna Festival, with a cast that included Helmut Lohner, Peter Weck, Paulus Manker, Alexander Goebel and Götz Kauffmann, and has returned the piece on various occasions more recently.[7] Over a period of several decades Hans Hollmann has directed in all the major theatres of Germany, Austria and Switzerland. A particular focus has been in respect of contemporary theatre, including first productions of plays by Bertolt Brecht, Elias Canetti, Tankred Dorst, Rainald Goetz, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, Heiner Müller and Botho Strauss. He has also manifested an enduring interest in music theatre.

In 1993 Hollmann accepted a professorship in Theatre Direction at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt am Main.,[8] heading up the Faculty of Performing Arts as dean between 1998 and 2003.[2] While at Frankfurt he conceived and created what in 2002 became today's "Hessian Theatre Academy" ("Hessische Theaterakademie"), an association-network of four drama universities/academies and fifteen theatres in and around Frankfurt.[7] It introduced an entirely new approach to artistic training,[9] and for many years Hollmann himself served as its president, until succeeded in that role by Heiner Goebbels in 2006.[10] The Hamburg Theatre Academy founded in 1994 followed the same model.

Along with numerous adaptations, translations and screenplays, Hans Hollmann has written many essays and other contributions on theatre. He has also given many public readings, focusing in particular on the writings of Elias Canetti, Karl Kraus und Heinrich Heine.


Hans Hollmann is married to the actress Reinhild Solf. The marriage produced two recorded children. Their son, Caspar Florian, was killed in an avalanche accident in 2001.


Since 1967 Hans Hollmann productions have frequently been invited to be at the Berlin Theatre Festival. He is a member of the German Academy of Presentational Arts and an honorary member of the Berlin National Theatre company.

He is a holder of the Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (First class) and of the Styrian Cross of Honour (Gold). He has also been a recipient of the Josef Kainz Medal from the city of Vienna and, in 2006, of the highest honour from the State of Hessen, the Goethe Award.


  1. "Hans Hollmann: österreichischer Regisseur; Mitbegründer und Vorstand der Hessischen Theaterakademie (2002-2006); Prof. em.; Dr. jur". Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  2. Paul Schorno (4 February 2013). "Ein Grosser des deutschsprachigen Theaters feiert seinen 80. Geburtstag: Hans Hollmann, der frühere Direktor des Theaters Basel, wird am Montag 80 Jahre alt. Als Regisseur feierte er grosse Erfolge auf den Bühnen im deutschsprachigen Raum. Der gebürtige Grazer wohnt noch immer in Basel. Eine Würdigung zum runden Geburtstag". Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, Liestal. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  3. "Italienische Nacht". Archive Theatertreffen .... Berliner Festspiele. Berliner Festspiele. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  4. "The Last Days of mankind" is an unconventional piece, described by one source as a tragedy in five acts with a prologue and an epilogue, comprising 220 brief mosaic like scenes each of which consists of faithfully reproduced original quotations from all social strata, new reports, speeches and letters by soldiers and civilians
  5. Thomas Blubacher; Andreas Kotte (editor/compiler) (2005). Hans Hollmann. Theaterlexikon der Schweiz. 2. Chronos Verlag, Zürich. pp. 864=865.
  6. "Hollmann, Hans". Austria-Forum. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  7. "Hans Hollmann liest in Gießen "Die letzten Tage der Menschheit" von Karl Kraus". Gießener Anzeiger. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  8. "Hans Hollmann feiert seinen 70. Geburtstag". Wiener Zeitung. 4 February 2003. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  9. "The Hessian Theatre Academy". Heiner Goebbels iA Der Hessischen Theaterakademie, Frankfurt am Main. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  10. "Heiner Goebbels neuer Präsident: Der Komponist und Regisseur Heiner Goebbels ist neuer Präsident der Hessischen Theaterakademie. Einen Namen gemacht sich der 54-Jährige mit eigenen Musiktheaterstücken und Filmmusiken". Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin. 18 October 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
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