Founded in 1957 as part of Rowohlt publishing house, Rowohlt Theater Verlag quickly became one of Germany’s leading play agencies. From the outset, Rowohlt focused on contemporary and political drama. Among the first plays was Wolfgang Borchert’s The Man Outside, which has long since become a modern classic. Rowohlt represents German translations of Albert Camus’ and Jean-Paul Sartre’s complete dramatic work, which have become and remain an inherent component of Rowohlt’s repertoire. In 1963, Rolf Hochhuth’s Christian tragedy The Deputy was performed for the first time and provoked a long-standing debate about the role of the Catholic Church during the Third Reich. The Czech dramatist Václav Havel, whose plays were also presented in German by Rowohlt, is another writer who was to influence political debates for the next two decades.
British contemporary drama has figured prominently in the Rowohlt programme since its inception. Today, Rowohlt Theater Verlag represents the majority of Britain’s most significant contemporary playwrights, most with their complete works. These include Harold Pinter, Alan Ayckbourn, Joe Orton, David Hare, to name but a few. This tradition has held fast with the most recent generation of dramatists. Rowohlt established influential writers in Germany such as Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Martin Crimp and Simon Stephens as well as two of the most remarkable American dramatists, Wallace Shawn and Neil LaBute. Two important and widely performed Scandinavian contemporary dramatists can be added to these in the Rowohlt programme, the Swede Lars Norén and the Norwegian Jon Fosse.
Since the early 1990s, Rowohlt Theater Verlag has expanded especially in the direction of numerous German-speaking dramatists and is now respresenting the works of renowned writers such as Elfriede Jelinek, Botho Strauß, Sibylle Berg, Moritz Rinke and René Pollesch, many of whose plays have been internationally acclaimed. A complete list of the playwrights we represent can be found here.
In recent years, many of the authors represented by Rowohlt Theater Verlag have been awarded prizes for their dramatic work. To name but the most important ones: The Muelheim Dramatists’ Award, the most prestigious prize for German playwrights, has gone twice to René Pollesch (2001 & 2006) and Elfriede Jelinek (2002 and 2004). The winners of both the Franz Kafka Literature Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature were Elfriede Jelinek in 2004 and Harold Pinter in 2005.
Rowohlt Theater Verlag
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