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German filmmaker, stage director, performance artist, talk show host, agent provocateur.

Christoph Schlingensief was born October 24th, 1960 in Oberhausen. Most recently he came to fame as the director of Parsifal at the Wagner Festival 2004 in Bayreuth.

Schlingensief apparently made his first film at the tender age of 8. At least, that's what his website www.schlingensief.com says. All in all it lists about 40 films in which he was involved ... I do however claim that not all of those were masterpieces ;) Anyway, he is most famous for his theater work. He staged a number of plays at the Volksb├╝hne Berlin in the nineties, most of them with reference to current events. Quote his website (translated to the best of my abilities):

Theater as a construction site

"To lose control mechanisms and to conceive it as staging, to be in a state of flux, that is the core of my theater."

Schlingensief's stagings are not about to fulfill expectations of a solid theater evening. The viewers attending the theaters of this or that republic in anticipation of an exhilarating performance, at best prompting reflection, will possibly flee the hall soon after beginning - sometimes not an undesired effect.

If Schlingensief himself calls theater "one of the last places of ritual", it is at first irritating, as his theater (...) has little in common with proven models. Ordinary expectations get you left behind quickly and are the reason for conventional condemnation of the performance - and the director. Because of the helpless feuilletons Schlingensief has always been damned to be the "agent provocateur" and the "enfant terrible". (...)

Schlingensief is his own moderator, he is a practising alienator. Parallel to his film methods his theater does not yield to traditional dramaturgy. It does not rely on classical ways of narration, it rather follows Eisenstein's montage of attractions that are stringed together seemingly without connection. Performances are obliged to the constant expectation of the unexpected, retarding moments or heading for a climax have no room. (...)

Christoph Schlingensief also founded a political party called Chance 2000 for the Bundestag elections 1998 and achieved great media presence with his prank call to all the millions of jobless people of Germany to take a bath in Lake Wolfgang (where the holiday domicile of then chancellor Helmut Kohl is located) to get it to overflow.

He is a talkshow host as well. His first show was "Talk 2000" in 1998. His guests sat on a couch on a rotating platform like in a microwave oven. In 2000 he did 8 episodes of the guerilla talkshow "U3000" for MTV Germany. In a subway car on its way back and forth under Berlin, accompanied by a family from India and a group of handicapped people as a sociocritial undertone. His latest show was "Freakstars 3000" in 2002, a parody on the casting show craziness - his candidates were patients from a mental institution and a ticker tape at the edge of the screen informed the viewer about alarming facts concerning their situation.

His latest assignment is the modernization of the time-honored high society Wagner Festival in Bayreuth. After many clashes with the 86 year old manager Wolfgang Wagner, the grandson of Richard Wagner, over Schlingensief's radical ideas, threats of resignment, many faxes between lawyers and even a brief hospitalization, the premiere of the new Parsifal will be next Sunday, July 25th 2004.

And that, to quote Der Spiegel, from somebody who just recently was painting a piece of canvas in Zurich with no pants on.

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