Gregorij von Leitis

For more than 50 years Gregorij von Leïtis has been working as a director at various theaters in Europe and the USA. In 1985 he was the first non-American to receive the New York Theatre Club Prize for his direction of Bertolt Brecht's The Jewish Wife. In 2003, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by German President Johannes Rau for his merits in promoting international understanding by means of art. In April 2016, the Austrian Federal President Dr. Heinz Fischer bestowed on him the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art. In recent years, Gregorij von Leïtis has been increasingly active as a speaker; through reading programs and literary-musical collages, he has been active in Germany and abroad against hate (Hate is a Failure of Imagination), for the preservation of democracy (Defending Democracy), and for environmental protection (After Us, the Deluge?), among other things. In 1983 Gregorij von Leïtis founded the Elysium Theater Company in New York, which he led as Artistic Director until his appointment in 1990 as Artistic Director of the State Theater Mecklenburg, Neustrelitz. Since 1993 he has been Artistic Director of Elysium - between two continents. In 1985 he founded the Erwin Piscator Award Society, which annually presents the Erwin Piscator Award. Since 1987 he has been committed to the integration of marginalized social groups by means of theater. In 1989, he installed the Theater for the Homeless program with the Elysium Theater Company. (photo: Letizia Mariotti) Gregorij von Leïtis was a guest director at the State Theaters in Linz and Bregenz. In 1998 he directed Franz Kafka's A Report to an Academy at the Bloomsbury Theater in London and Viktor Ullmann's opera The Emperor of Atlantis at the Guggenheim Museum and the Miller Theater in New York. In 2001 he directed the Italian premiere of Ernst Krenek's opera What Price Confidence? at the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma. In 2005 he directed the world premiere of Egon Lustgarten's opera Dante in Exile in Bernried and New York. (photo: Letizia Mariotti) In 1997 he recited the New York premiere of The Lay of Love and Death of Cornet Christoph Rilke, one of the last works composer Viktor Ullmann was able to complete in the Theresienstadt concentration camp before he was murdered in Auschwitz in 1944. He has since performed this composition internationally in over 30 cities, and for the 50th time on October 18, 2015 at the Roedde House Museum in Vancouver. In 1995 he founded The Lahr von Leïtis Academy & Archive with Michael Lahr, of which he is president. (photo: Letizia Mariotti) Among other plays, Gregorij von Leïtis has directed the following American premieres: Stella by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; Death and the Fool by Hugo von Hofmannsthal, a production presented in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art's Vienna 1900 exhibition in New York; Bremen Freedom and Katzelmacher by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Joe and Marianne by Werner Schlierf, On the Chimborazo by Tankred Dorst, Shooting Rats by Peter Turrini, Madonna and Mike by Bernhard Schärfl; Kasimir and Karoline by Ödön von Horvath, Jailbird and Don’t Understand a Thing by Felix Mitterer, and A Metaphysical Conference by
Viktor Frankl.
He studied acting with Helen von Münchhofen and Herbert Mensching in Munich and with Lee Strasberg in New York, and art history and theater studies at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich.