The director of the only professional English theatre in Hamburg, PAUL GLASER, brings the spirit of the West End to the city’s audiences.
How was 2021 for your company and what do you expect for the future?
2021 was a real challenge for everyone but particularly for us working in culture. We had to rethink where we stand and turn on a dime. We quickly developed new ways to bring theatre to our audiences, trying out different forms and formats that would suit the online market. Much of what we learned will be part of what we offer in the future.
Which changes and challenges do you anticipate for the next few years?
We have a unique position as the only professional English theatre in Hamburg. All our actors are cast exclusively in London for each of our four productions per season. Brexit is a challenge: the rules regarding hiring actors from the U.K. and bringing them to Hamburg for an extended run, along with insurance matters, are still not 100% clear.
Do you expect growth for your company?
Yes, we expect growth. At the same time, there has been a change in where people look for information about what’s happening locally, less in magazines, more on their smartphones. This has also affected how people buy tickets and new payment systems. It was interesting to see that the majority of people purchasing tickets for our online streams had never set foot in our theatre. Keeping up with these new developments is time-consuming and requires new skills, so we need to grow and hire more personnel in this field as well as other fields in the theatre.
What do you appreciate most about Hamburg as your location?
Hamburg is a very international city, and the English Theatre is a prominent part of what Hamburg offers an international audience. The city’s Kulturbehörde is very supportive of us and is doing a great job. The support theatres is given here in Hamburg is unique.
Are there any differences between working in Germany and your home country?
What immediately struck me in Hamburg was the somewhat, “rough” sense of humour – a northern German, unapologetic robustness. Something I was a bit taken aback by but have now acually like and appreciate. (I’m becoming more German by the day!)
What characteristic do you value most in your team?
I value the passion and skill with which they approach every challenge, their determination and flexibility.
What was the last achievement that still makes you proud?
During lockdown we turned the theatre into a TV station, producing streaming content for our online platform. We streamed versions of previous productions and a talk show format where we invited people within the English speaking community in Hamburg as guests; we also created a short monologue format, called “Culture Bite”.
Do you expect Brexit to have an impact on your business?
What did you want to become when you were a child?
I stem from a very cultural family of musicians, actors, directors, and composers. Theatre and performing arts in general always fascinated me and it was clear from day one that it was within that field that I would work. My goal was set on becoming a performer myself.
Where do you consider home?
I’ve always moved wherever work took me, not paying much more attention to it than that. I always knew I wasn’t going to stay in any one place for too long. But, work kept bringing me back to Hamburg and now, it’s become the city I’ve lived in the longest. Home? I have a sense of home in several of the cities I’ve lived in, and Hamburg is definitely one of them.
What’s your favourite restaurant in Hamburg?
Out of sentimental reasons I’d have to say Man Wah on the Reeperbahn as my favourite restaurant. During my time in Cats we could “cover” from there. This was long before mobile phones, and when you had a show, you needed to be close, within reach, to go on stage in case someone got injured. In that case, you needed to get into full costume and makeup and go on as fast as humanly possible, to take over the role. Man Wah was close enough and had a phone. After all these years, it’s still there. Memories. And good food :)
Apart from Hamburg, which are your three favourite cities worldwide?
Stockholm, Paris and Vancouver.
What drives you?
A sense of exploring. Adventure. Excitement.
Did you have a mentor who helped you in your professional career?
My mentors were my teachers at school. My ballet teacher Konstantin Damianov and my singing teacher Inga Sundström, to name a few. They taught me the art of discipline and perseverance.
Any advice for people embarking on a career while in their twenties?
You need discipline, courage and perseverance to expand beyond your limits.
Born into a family of music and theatre, Paul Glaser has culture in his DNA. From an early age, he played several instruments and wrote songs. He started his professional career as a trained classical dancer after graduating from the Royal Swedish Ballet School, and joined the English Theatre of Hamburg in 2016 as managing director. Glaser also teaches at the Musical Acedemy in Milan, Italy, and is a sought-after choreographer, voice-over artist, composer and director – perfect for a man who thrives on working on multiple projects.