Versatile, passionate about acting and tough – that sums up the theatre director and actress Katharina Thalbach. She played Jürgen Flimm’s award-winning Käthchen von Heilbronn and took on the role of “Old Fritz” for the TV biopic “Friedrich – ein deutscher König” (i.e. Frederick – a German King). Her portrayal of Marie in Volker Schlöndorff’s film adaptation of “The Tin Drum” by Günter Grass brought Katharina Thalbach worldwide recognition. But as the diminutive grande dame of the German acting world explains, she was never tempted by America, by Hollywood: “I did not want to live in another language. I was scared it would result in my losing my identity”, says the 62-year-old, adding that Berlin is her home. It is particularly her local Berlin dialect that makes her film characters – not least her portrayal of a shop employee in “Schlikkerfrauen”, Uwe Janson’s social satire about a bankrupt chain of drugstores – so credible and approachable.
The power of language
On 8 October 2016, Katharina Thalbach will be presented in Kassel with the Jacob-Grimm-Preis Deutsche Sprache (the Jacob Grimm German Language Prize), which is endowed with 30,000 euros. “Through her work on stage, Katharina Thalbach makes it clear that feelings and moods can be generated by the power of language”, is how Bamberg linguist Helmut Glück explains the jury’s decision. “Katharina Thalbach is very much aware of this significance of language on stage and in audio drama. This awareness is expressed in her numerous interpretations of classical literature, as well as in her commitment to the Festspiel der deutschen Sprache (i.e. German Language Festival).”
Divided into three parts, the Kulturpreis Deutsche Sprache (the German Language Cultural Prize) has been awarded since 2001 by the Eberhard-Schöck-Stiftung and the Verein Deutsche Sprache for special services to the German language. Previous winners include the musician Udo Lindenberg, the author Cornelia Funke, the poet Nora Gomringer, the now deceased journalist and book author Frank Schirrmacher, the writer Günter de Bruyn, the humourist Loriot, the actor Ulrich Tukur, the cabaret artist Dieter Nuhr and the journalist Prince Asfa-Wossen Asserate.
Impressive positive effects
Endowed with 5,000 euros, the Initiativpreis Deutsche Sprache (the German Language Initiative Prize) will be awarded to the “Ludwig Soumagne” Internationales Mundartarchiv (the International Dialect Archive) in Dormagen, while the Institutionenpreis Deutsche Sprache (the German Language Institutional Prize) goes to the “DeutschSommer” project of the Stiftung Polytechnische Gesellschaft Frankfurt. “This language tuition programme aims to improve the language skills of children, be they of migrant origin or not, during the summer holidays”, says jury spokesperson Glück. “The positive effects on vocabulary and grammar, as well as on performance at school and self-confidence, are impressive.”
Awarding of the Kulturpreis Deutsche Sprache on 8 October 2016 in Kassel