Martin Kušej

Martin Kušej
Born (1961-05-14) 14 May 1961
Wolfsberg, Austria
Occupation theatre director, artistic director

Martin Kušej (born 14 May 1962) is an Austrian theatre and opera director, and current Artistic Director at the Residenz Theatre in Munich. According to German news magazine Focus, Kušej belongs to the ten most important theatre directors who have emerged in the German-speaking world since the millennium.[1] He is considered one of the most important directors working today, acclaimed for his dark and incisive productions.[2]

Born into the Slovene-speaking minority in the Austrian state of Carinthia he studied German, Literature and Sport Sciences at the University of Graz from 1979-82. He then moved to the local University of Music and Performing Arts and graduated from the MA course in theatre directing in 1984. His final showcase production was Ultramarine by David Brett; his Master thesis was on Robert Wilson.

In 1986, after his alternative civil service, he became an assistant director at the State Theatre in Salzburg from where he moved to the Slovenian National Theatre in Ljubljana in the same role.

Since 1990, he has been working freelance in Slovenia, Austria, Italy and Germany. Together with Austrian set designer Martin Zehetgruber and dramaturge Sylvia Brandl, he founded the independent group ’’my friend martin’’. They produced various plays for international festivals, including Franz Falsch F Falsch Dein Falsch Nichts Mehr Stille Tiefer Wald based on works by Franz Kafka.

In the 1993/1994 season he became a resident director at the Staatstheater in Stuttgart, Germany. He received the Gertrud Eysoldt Prize for young directors for his version of Intrigue and Love by Friedrich Schiller which he had directed earlier that year at Stadttheater Klagenfurt in Austria, and which had produced a major scandal with audiences leaving the theatre within the first few minutes.[3]

In 1996 he debuted as an opera director in Stuttgart with King Arthur by Henry Purcell and John Dryden. Since then he has directed operas in the opera houses of Stuttgart, Verona, Zurich, Berlin, Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam and at the Salzburg Festival. Towards the end of his time as resident director in Stuttgart he also worked at the Burgtheater in Vienna and at Thalia Theater in Hamburg.

In 1999 ,he was invited to the Berliner Theatertreffen festival with his Hamburg production of Tales from the Vienna Woods by Ödön von Horváth. Since the 2000/2001 season, he has been working as a freelance director, again at the Burgtheater and at Hamburg’s Thalia Theatre, amongst others.

From 2004-06, he was the artistic director of the drama section at the Salzburg Festival, then moved on to work as a freelance opera and theatre director again in the 2006/2007 season. Since 2011, he is the artistic director of the Residenz Theatre ("Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel").

Selected stage productions

Opera (selection)


  1. Gregor Dolak (26 September 2011). "Stars hinter der Bühne (Stars backstage)". Focus. Munich. Retrieved 2011-11-24.
  2. Royal Opera House (2014). "Love and sacrifice vie in Mozart's sublime early masterpiece, directed by Martin Kušej in his UK debut.". London. Retrieved 2014-06-17.
  3. Haderlap, Maja Das Stadttheater Klagenfurt 1992 bis 2007. Die Ära Dietmar Pflegerl (2007)
  4. DER FAUST Award 2012,
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