Bircher, Urs 1947-
Bircher, Urs 1947-
BIRCHER, Urs 1947-
PERSONAL: Born August 12, 1947, in Basel, Switzerland. Education: Studied philosophy and history in Vienna, Paris, and Berlin.
ADDRESSES: Office—Stadttheater Hildesheim, Theaterstrasse. 6, 31141 Hildesheim, Switzerland.
CAREER: Dramaturg and director at various German-language theaters, including the Schauspielhaus Zürich. Stadttheater Hildesheim, Hildesheim, Switzerland, director, 2000—.
(With Kathrin Straub) Vom langsamen Wachsen eines Zorns: Max Frisch 1911-1955, Limmat (Zürich, Switzerland), 1997.
Mit Ausnahme der Freundschaft: Max Frisch 1956-1991, Limmat (Zürich, Switzerland), 2000.
Contributor to books including Brechts Tui-Kritik: Aufsätze, Rezensionen, Geschichten, edited by Wolfgang Fritz Haug and others, Argument-Verlag (Karlsruhe, Germany), 1976; Materialstische Julturtheorie und Alltagskultur, edited by Haug and Kaspar Maase, Argumen-Verlag (Berlin, Germany), 1980; and Heinz Jost: Auf dem Reissbrett. Theaterplakate, Konzertplakate, Zeichnungen, Beaulieu (Bern, Switzerland), 1994.
SIDELIGHTS: Urs Bircher has served as a dramaturg and director for a number of German-language theaters in Switzerland, including the Städttheater Hildesheim, which he joined in 2000. His work in the theater brought him into contact with Max Frisch, an influential playwright, architect, and novelist. On October 19, 1989, Bircher served as a dramaturg for the premier of Frisch's last play, Jonas und sein Veteran, at the Schauspielhaus Zürich.
Bircher wrote two volumes on Frisch's life: Vom langsamen Wachsen eines Zorns: Max Frisch 1911-1955 and Mit Ausnahme der Freundschaft: Max Frisch 1956-1991. For both books, Bircher was able to draw upon letters and interviews with friends, as well as interviews with Frisch himself. The first volume follows Frisch's career to the point at which he achieved international renown as a writer and national stature as an architect. In a review of Vom langsamen Wachsen eines Zorns for World Literature Today, Theodore Ziolkowski noted that Bircher's access to personal sources allows him "to provide the first reliable biocritical study of the prominent Swiss writer since Alexander Stephan's Autorenbuch of 1983." Michael Butler, writing in the Times Literary Supplement, remarked that these sources allow Bircher to "counter Frisch's tendency towards self-dramatization in his own autobiographical comments."
The second volume, Mit Ausnahme der Freundschaft, focuses on Frisch's political development from nationalist conservatism to critic of both political left and right as well as how this shift is reflected in his writing. In a review of the second volume for World Literature Today, Ziolkowski praised Bircher's ability to write knowledgably about Frisch's plays and to place the works within a cultural context. Overall, Ziolkowski stated that Bircher's two volumes on the life of Max Frisch "provide a lively, unpedantic, economical, and well-founded introduction to the life and works of one of the foremost writers of the twentieth century."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Times Literary Supplement, October 8, 1999, Michael Butler, "Being Swiss Is Not Enough," review of Vom langsamen Wachseneines Zorns: Max Frisch 1911-1955.
World Literature Today, spring, 1998, Theodore Ziolkowski, review of Vom langsamen Wachsen eines Zorns, pp. 365-366; autumn, 2000, Ziolkowski, review of Mit Ausnahme der Freundschaft: Max Frisch 1956-1991, p. 855.
Perlentaucher Web site, http://www.perlentaucher.de/ (August 3, 2004), "Urs Bircher."
Städttheater Hildesheim Web site, http://www.stadttheater-hildesheim.de/ (August 5, 2004).
Vesselka's Home Page, http://vesselka.freeservers.com/ (July 22, 2004).*