On the Death of Professor Albrecht Roser
May 21, 1922 - April 17, 2011
Raised and educated in good Swabian family tradition, he served four years in Russia during WW II. Outwardly uninjured at 23 years, he returned to civilian life after the war and began a long search for the direction to take which would give meaning to his survival. The encounter with a marionette, a witch figure, made by his future mentor, Fritz Herbert Bross was the inspiration. Its individuality, its mysterious existence, its magic -- inanimate material became wonderfully alive on stage.
Bross' marionette construction method (inspired by an essay by Heinrich von Kleist) is ruled by a symbiosis of technique and artistic design. The essence of his inventiveness is that motion is released through the center of gravity of the figures themselves. The performer is provided with an invaluable, precisely constructed theater figure. Roser recognized this as a possibility for himself -- to perform with solo marionettes. Bross passed on all his knowledge and technique to his 29-year-old student; intuitively guiding creative impulses in the right direction. Roser admired his creativity, but had difficulty finding sympathy with Bross' clown figures. This aversion grew into a deep opposition which led to his very own creation -- in just six weeks of intense work, "Clown Gustaf" was born. Roser wrote "My soul was so withdrawn that I was hardly aware of its being. Then, with one leap it was there, unscathed; and relieved me from the numbness which four war years had inflicted upon me."
Clown Gustaf sprang to life and by way of his irresistible personality, Roser, entirely unanticipated, became a puppeteer. He was Roser's alter ego, his mentor, his guide, his inspiration, his companion from 1951 to 2008.The creative bond between Clown Gustaf and Roser is indescribable and is without parallel in the world of puppet theater. Audiences were captivated with delight, wonder, laughter, by the invincible Gustaf: a wonderful performance of life, a unique partnership. Gustaf's humor, charm, mischievousness, and his triumph in all situations increased through the years on stage, as well as the similarity between the clown and his manipulator. Roser built his own string-puppets and commissioned Bross to construct several marionettes for his program with scenes for solo-marionettes: GUSTAF AND HIS ENSEMBLE for which he was, unexpectedly awarded a gold medal at the first World Festival of Puppeteers in Bucharest in 1958.
With GUSTAF AND HIS ENSEMBLE, Roser toured throughout the world for decades as ambassador for the art of the marionette; performing in Germany, not only in theaters, but also for festivities, anniversaries, conventions, gatherings, public and privat. Viewers loved "Frog Concert", "The Stork on his Morning Walk", " The Dark Side of Life", "The Clown and the Flower", "Clown Puenktchen and his Happiness", "Strange Round Dance", "Beauty of the Night", and all the others. Each scene had been inspired by events or encounters from his own life. Each performance was a renewed encounter with his figures, inspired by their astonishing personalities.The final scene with the Granny from Stuttgart, the Swabian grandmother who always knows the latest gossip, was the highlight all over the world. In Europe, and even in Asia, she chatted in every language, albeit with her own native accent. Only Chinese was just too much for her to learn in the short time before her appearances in HongKong, China and Taiwan.
The ensemble had already performed 1980 on the Rehearsal Stage of the Chinese Circus in Beijing. For Gustaf's appearance in the Shanghai University, Mao's portrait was shoved behind stage into the wings; and in Taiwan the traditional Chinese puppet theater was experienced. Focus of many international tours were Japan (invited and organized by PUK Puppet Theatre in Tokyo and the German Cultural Institute) and America. In a Zen monastery in Kyoto, an exchange was made between a Roser marionette and a Nô theater mask, a gem which Roser took as a gauge for his own work. America fascinated him for its unbridled curiosity for the unusual, the wide open countryside and its people. Roser was invited by the University of Connecticut to teach for 6-months as guest artist which led to his International Summer Academy courses held consecutively in several countries; and further to his Master Classes. Already in 1983, the State University of Music and Performing Arts in Stuttgart had established the Puppet Theater Course of Studies with Roser as head of the department, after his untiring efforts in this matter. This was the first academic study program for puppeteers in western Europe at the time -- a pioneering achievement. And for 20 years, jointly with other Stuttgart puppeteers, he founded and managed the FITS Puppet Theater.
Numerous Roser puppet films and puppet television series for the German television channel SDR, were produced with Dr. Elizabeth Schwarz, the head of the afternoon programs -- series like "Telemekel und Teleminchen", "Der starke Wanja"; puppet films like "Der dritte Ton", "Die Nachtigall"; and together with the journalist, Susanne Offenbach, the Granny from Stuttgart hosted the shows "Der Schaukelstuhl" and "Ich wollt ich wär".
He directed "The Raven Dance"; and produced and directed the staging of "Don Juan" with the music of Christoph Willibald Gluck, "Die Geschichte vom Soldaten" of Stravinsky, and "Ein Mozartdivertimento als Figurenspiel" for the European Music Festival of the Internationale Bachakademie. He directed in Poland, held workshops and courses at several academic institutions and puppet festivals.
In the later years, he retired from the strenuous tours, back to his atelier home in Buoch, where at 84, he opened his Atelier-Theater. This became a windfall -- performances were sold-out; audiences loved the atelier atmosphere, the direct and personal contact, that "peek behind the scenes"; and above all GUSTAF AND HIS ENSEMBLE.
With fortunate multiple talents and absolute dedication to his work, Roser accomplished top achievements in marionette construction and performance. He is acknowedged world-wide as the master of this dramatic form. Those who were in his audiences, particularly during his last appearances in July 2008, were transported into a wonderful new dimension of merriment and joy. Spectators all over the world were enchanted. "
So, in my entire life, I have strived to serve, to serve joy. It was a wonderful, dearly loved and intensely lived life -- with everything that belongs to it, by no means easy, full to the brim with work which added its share to the joy."
73630 Remshalden- Buoch