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Einar Schleef

Einar Schleef, one of Germany’s best-known theater directors and the author of numerous plays, died July 21 of a heart condition in Berlin. He was 57.

Schleef studied at East Berlin’s Academy of Arts and worked in the mid-1970s at East Berlin’s Berliner Ensemble, founded by Bertolt Brecht.

In 1976, in the face of resistance to his work from the Communist authorities in East Germany, he left for the west. In West Berlin, he studied film direction at the German Film and Television Academy.

He published a novel, “Gertrud,” based on the life of his mother, and the plays “Wezel” and “The Actors,” among other works.

From 1985 to 1990, Schleef directed Frankfurt’s Schauspiel theater. After Germany was reunited, he returned to Berlin to the Berliner Ensemble.

Critics ranked Schleef’s direction of Brecht’s “Puntilla and His Slave Matti” as one of the theater’s most daring productions. Schleef starred as Puntilla, and scripted some of the lines. Many of the actors appeared naked or just wearing military jackets and boots.

The Brecht heirs were aghast, but critics admired the production. In 1996, a creative dispute led to his dismissal from the theater. Schleef moved on to work in Duesseldorf and Vienna.

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