Gerhard Stadelmaier was born in Stuttgart in 1950. He studied German literature and history in Tübingen and wrote his doctorate on »Gotthold Ephraim Lessing auf der Bühne – ein Klassiker im Theateralltag« (tr. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing on stage – A classic in daily theater practice). After an internship at the »Stuttgarter Zeitung«, he worked for the paper’s review section. From 1989 to 2015, he was managing editor for theater and theater criticism at the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung«. In addition to his work in journalism, he was also a professor of theater criticism at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt.
Stadelmaier is the author of several books. In the 1990s, he published »Letzte Vorstellung. Eine Führung durchs deutsche Theater« (1993; tr. Last show. A tour of German theater) and »Traumtheater. Vierundvierzig Lieblingsstücke« (1997; tr. Dream theater. Forty-four favorite plays). In his book »Parkett, Reihe 6, Mitte. Meine Theatergeschichte« (2010; tr. Stalls. Row 6. Center. My history of the theater), he wrote about the profession of a theater critic and his role in the world of theater, arguing that his true place is among the audience, and that – even though he is deeply indebted – he owes the theater nothing. In »Liebeserklärungen. Große Schauspieler, große Figuren« (2012; tr. Declarations of love. Great actors, great roles), a collection of descriptive essays, Stadelmaier portrays actors, including Gert Voss and Angela Winkler, next to figures they actually played or someone who suits them in the eyes of the author. Most recently, he published »Regisseurtheater. Auf den Bühnen des Zeitgeists« (2016; tr. Directors’ theater. The zeitgeist of our stages), an essay criticizing contemporary theater for destroying itself by pandering to a short attention span-driven spirit of our age. The author muses on things that frequently exasperated him in his long career as a critic, never losing sight of the moments of joy in his passion for the theater. He aims his critique of what he calls »Regisseurtheater« (»director-focused theater«) at the arbitrariness and banality currently holding Germany’s stages hostage. In the fall of 2016, he will publish his first novel »Umbruch« (tr; The wrap), an autobiographical love letter to the art of making newspapers. Indeed, the young Stadelmaier could not resist the sirens’ call of working for a newspaper – despite his grandmother’s advice.
In 2005, he received the Hildegard von Bingen Prize for Journalism. In 2016, he was the first theater critic to be awarded the Deutscher Sprachpreis by the Henning-Kaufmann Foundation for his »work on behalf of the linguistic and literary quality of German theater«. He was praised in particular for his »eloquent« texts and for facilitating and promoting the theater. Gerhard Stadelmaier lives in Bad Nauheim.