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Roberto Ciulli

Roberto Ciulli (* April 1, 1934 in Milan) is a theater director and actor, he is the founder of the Theater an der Ruhr.

Roberto Ciulli graduated in philosophy from the Universities of Milan and Pavia with a doctorate on Hegel. At the age of 26, he founded the tent theater Il Globo in a Milanese suburb. Its repertoire ranged from the classics to the avant-garde. Among other things, he staged the Italian premiere of Sławomir Mrożek's "On the High Seas" there.
In 1965 he went to Germany, where he first worked as a factory worker and long-distance truck driver. He began his theater work in Germany at the German Theater in Göttingen, where he worked from 1965 to 1972, first as an assistant director, then as a director under the directorship of Heinz Hilpert and Günther Fleckenstein. Roberto Ciulli moved to Schauspiel Köln in 1972 to realize a theater of co-determination inspired by the ideas of the 1968 movement. Together with Hansgünther Heyme, he was the theater director there. Here he made a name for himself with interpretations of Goldoni, the discovery of Eduardo de Filippo for German-language theater, and a Sternheim cycle. Guest productions at the Freie Volksbühne and the Schiller Theater in Berlin. 1979-1981 director at the Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf, where his productions included "Alkestis" after Euripides, "Das Dekameron" after Boccaccio and the world premiere of Heinar Kipphardt's "März. Ein Künstlerleben".

In 1980 he founded the Mülheim Theater an der Ruhr together with the dramaturge Helmut Schäfer and the stage designer Gralf-Edzard Habben. Even at its founding, the Theater an der Ruhr was committed to international cultural work. It seeks and promotes multicultural (international, cosmopolitan, cosmopolitan, cosmopolitan) encounters, regularly gives guest performances abroad and brings foreign theater ensembles to Mülheim an der Ruhr.

Ciulli's productions have already been invited abroad in the past. The performances "The Cyclops" and "Alkestis", were presented at the International Bitef Festival in Belgrade in 1979 and 1980. In 1980, Ciulli staged "The Decameron" at Teatr Atelje 212 in Belgrade with actress Gordana Kosanovic. The Yugoslavian actress became a member of the ensemble in Mülheim in 1981. Gordana Kosanovic will shape the work of the Theater an der Ruhr until her early death in 1986. A prize in her name has been awarded to actors every two years since 1987, so far to Ulrich Wildgruber, Kirsten Dene and Miki Manojlivoc, among others.

In 1983, the Theater an der Ruhr received its first invitation abroad to the theater festival in Parma (Italy) with its production of A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. Also in 1983, the theater travels to the Bitef Festival in Belgrade with the productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Gross und Klein" by Botho Strauss. The jury awards the Theater an der Ruhr for the best overall artistic performance. Together with Yugoslavian cultural officials, Roberto Ciulli realized the idea of including foreign-language theater productions in the theaters' repertoires outside of the international festivals. And so, in 1985, the Theater an der Ruhr became the first German theater to tour Yugoslavia.

Close cooperation with the Turkish State Theater began as early as 1987, making the Theater an der Ruhr the first German theater to tour Turkey. As part of this theater tour, productions were shown in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. As a result, the first co-production between the Turkish State Theater and a German theater was created. The production of Federico Garcia Lorca's "Bernarda Alba's House" with eight Turkish actors was staged in 1993. In 1995, Ciulli staged a bilingual performance of Brecht's "In the Thicket of Cities" with Turkish and German actors. The exchange with Turkish theaters continues to this day. Starting in 2012, a Turkish production will be shown every month at Theater an der Ruhr as part of "Szene Istanbul."

In 1998, Roberto Ciulli's search for partners in the Iranian cultural sector began. In the same year, he signed a letter of intent for a theater exchange based on a cultural agreement between the Ministry of Culture of Iran and the Theater an der Ruhr. In January 1999, the Theater an der Ruhr became the first European ensemble since the Islamic Revolution to be invited to the International Fadjr Festival in Tehran, and has been a regular guest there ever since. A production of "Bernarda Alba's House" became the highlight of the cultural exchange with Iran in 2002. He worked on Lorca's play in Persian with eight Iranian actresses, which was invited to Stockholm, Berlin and Malmö after its premiere in Tehran.

In exchange for the invitations to the Theater an der Ruhr, Roberto Ciulli asked Iranian theater ensembles to give guest performances in Mülheim and to show their productions as part of the "International Theater Landscapes". These began as early as 1986 with guest performances from Yugoslavia, Poland, Russia. From 1993, theaters from Russia were presented in Mülheim for the first time. In 1998 the "Theaterlandschaft Seidenstrasse" took place with groups from Iran, Syria and Uzbekistan and in 1999 with theaters from China, Turkey and Iran. The Theater an der Ruhr had previously also presented productions from its repertoire in these countries. Since the historic Silk Road also passed through Iraq, Ciulli's theater made a guest appearance in Baghdad in 2002, showing "Antigone" and Handke's "Kaspar," "The Little Prince" by Saint-Exupéry and Brecht's "Threepenny Opera." Guest performances have taken the Theater an der Ruhr ensemble to 38 countries, including Colombia, Mexico and Ecuador, Chile, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The Theater an der Ruhr has had connections with the Arab world for many years. In November 2009, a guest performance tour took the ensemble to the Tunis International Festival. In October 2013, the Theater an der Ruhr is invited to Algeria. Starting with the 2011/12 season, Theater an der Ruhr is organizing an annual "Theater Landscape Arabia".

In 1991, the Roma Theater Pralipe, which could not work in Yugoslavia destroyed by the civil war. was affiliated (until 2001).

In 2003 Roberto Ciulli developed the theater project "How did you sleep?" with patients of the Forensic Psychiatric Clinic in Langenfeld.

Ciulli has been awarded numerous prizes for his political and intercultural commitment, including the Polish Order of Culture (1990), the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (1996), the Special Prize for Theater Art and Outstanding Cultural Understanding in Tehran (1999), the Prize of the Hiroshima Foundation Stockholm (2002), the Prize of the ITI Center for World Theater Day (2004), the Prize of the Kulturrat NRW (2006), the State Prize of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (2013) and the Faust Theater Prize (2019). In 2020, his two-volume monograph "Der fremde Blick".