Why did you start a career in theater

#Interview with the actor Camill Jammal

In 2001, the foundation stone for his acting career was laid in Munich: At the age of 16, Camill Jammal dropped out of school and began studying at the Otto Falckenberg School. Now he has returned to the Bavarian capital, where he has been a permanent member of the ensemble on the stage of the Residenztheater since October 2019. An interview about living nightmares in the loft bed room, the love of music, the sense of community at the theater and acting visions.

“Time, it stretches like chewing gum, it doesn't pass. I would like to be in a different place - and sport is still murder ”.

Camill Jammal does not currently have much time for idleness. Because in contrast to his alter ego in the very amusing "Diary of a closed theater" contribution of the Residenztheater, the actor can hardly save himself from work. In the past few weeks he designed and shot, among other things, several contributions for the “Diary of a closed theater” video series of the Residenztheater, composed the music for the “Gulliver's Travels” episodes in the format “Resi reads aloud”, which already attracted over 10 spectators and viewers as part of the “Resi ruft an” initiative with his literary and musical contributions and, together with the director Anne Lenk, developed the idea for the five-part web series time for each other, in which 10 actors met online for five days in a row in short, improvised speed dates .

It seems as if the beginning of the corona crisis triggered a true explosion of creativity in the 34-year-old ensemble member of the Residenztheater. “You just can't look so far into the future at the moment,” says Camill when we made a very spontaneous telephone interview on a Saturday evening. He tells me very enthusiastically about the two phone calls he has just made for the "Resi ruft an" format. On the phone, the ensemble members of the Residenztheater speak monologues, scenes or monodramas for the respective listener - there is currently hardly a more beautiful way to get in personal contact with an actor as a theatergoer in the times of the corona lockdown: "Me tonight had a young theater pedagogue on the other line who has just moved to Würzburg. Now she is stuck in a strange city and cannot work there, ”says Camill. He also tells me about another conversation with a lady from Frankfurt, who fortunately lives on the same street as an editor of the Hessischer Rundfunk. “She has located all the musicians who live on this street - now the residents in the houses and apartments around them can ask for a song from them every day, which will be played live for them at 7:15 pm. What a wonderful idea! "

There could be no more appropriate first name for an actor, for whom theater primarily means community, than that of the Arabic adjective /kāmil derived name Camill: “Perfect” and “decent” are two descriptions that are immediately associated with the son of a Palestinian father. A few weeks ago I was able to experience for myself that Camill Jammal is a great team player when he helped me organize the first digital living room talk of the friends of the Residenztheater on Zoom at the beginning of April. Up to this point there had never been a personal encounter with Camill. Since the beginning of the directorship of Andreas Beck in October 2019, I had him in Kassandra / Prometheus. Right to the world and in Olympic Park in the Dark experienced on the stage in the royal stables of the Residenztheater.

After Camill Jammal had spent his childhood and youth in Heidelberg, he began his acting training at the Otto Falckenberg School in Munich in 2001 at the age of only 16. Here Camill, who plays the piano and guitar as well as saxophone, clarinet and cello professionally, composed the music for various theater productions. His first two permanent engagements took the actor to the theater of the state capital Magdeburg in 2006 and to the Hanover State Theater in 2009. From 2014 Camill Jammal could be seen as a freelance actor, among other things as a guest on the stage of the Thalia Theater in Hamburg. His film career had already gained momentum a few years earlier: in 2010 he stood for the cinema July August by director Marco Storman in front of the camera, in 2015 he took on a leading role in the episode for ARD The Tel-Aviv crime thriller: Death in Berlin directed by Matthias Tiefenbacher, who also wrote it for the ARD feature film in 2016 Mother’s enough now occupied.

At the beginning of the 2015/16 season, Camill Jammal switched back to a permanent engagement and became a member of the ensemble at the Deutsches Theater Berlin.

In 2019 he returned to Munich, where he is currently working in the home office in his apartment near Giesing, with a lot of passion and energy, in transferring the magic of the analog theater experience into the digital space for the audience. If you listen to the music of “Gulliver's Travels”, you immediately feel reminiscent of the furious solo evenings in the Marstall-Café in the past few months - each time an ensemble member presented himself to the Residenztheater audience with his own project. If you watch the episodes of the web series conceived by Camill Jammal and Anne Lenk, one after the other, one has the impression that one is sitting at a table with the protagonists of the five-minute virtual dating rounds - that is how close one feels between theatrical outbursts of emotions and merciless directness changing figure personnel on this virtual stage of love, self-expression and vanity. This project, too, was again created in teamwork in the spirit of Camill Jammal: With the Residenztheater, the Schauspiel Hannover, the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, the Staatstheater Nürnberg and the Deutsches Theater Berlin, five German theaters participated in the creation of a series, the individual episodes of May 1st - 5th went live on Youtube.

It is a Saturday evening in April 2020 shortly after 7 p.m. when my telephone interview with Camill Jammal begins.

In 2001, Munich was the first step on the way to a successful theater career: At the age of only 16 you started your studies at the Otto Falckenberg School. How did you perceive the city back then?

I ask myself that very often today, after living in this city for a few months now. I skipped most of the time at drama school because I don't have particularly good memories of it. I was just way too young when I was 16. That is why I have only very vague memories of Munich and then only of certain parts of the city that I perceive completely differently today.

What places are these, for example?

Among other things, the Leonrodplatz, where the Otto Falckenberg School was based when I was a student and where I shot a film in the summer before Andreas Beck started acting as artistic director. And of my old apartment on Humboldtstrasse.

The first apartment of their own: every teenager's dream!

Yes, if you don't sublet with a young couple who have built a tiny cubicle out of plywood walls in their four walls. 6m² of living space, a loft bed - that was my world. All my things had to find a place under the bed. There was no window, just a sheet of plexiglass at the top of the headboard. I paid 600 € for this "room".

And you must have told your mother on the phone every day that everything is so beautiful in Munich.

That's exactly how it was (laughs).

You could make a film about this very special living experience right away.

As part of our final project with the artist Georgette Dee at the Otto Falckenberg School, I actually processed this episode from my early days in Munich in a chanson.

You were practically the Joachim Meyerhoff of the 2000s - apart from the missing grandparents.

And without Nymphenburg and alcohol (laughs)!

I imagine it to be very exciting to be able to get a foretaste of being an adult at the age of 16.

Absolutely (laughs). However, at the age of 16, for example, you cannot earn some additional money through the admission service in the Kammerspiele. I definitely wouldn't recommend anyone going to drama school as early as I did.

Even if he or she has the talent?

Not even then. When I say that, my main concern is the personal maturity of a young person. For example, when my body trainers at drama school said to me: “Feel your body,” I was at first at a loss and didn't know what exactly they were talking about. But I see one of the biggest difficulties in the fact that the fellow students at the drama school are a lot older than you, while you have left your friends of the same age at home for a new life. So I associate a great deal of loneliness with my studies.

You have been a lecturer at your former drama school yourself for a few months. How do you perceive today's students?

We were a lot more cautious when I was a student. This may have to do with the fact that it is much easier to shoot today. For us it was clear at the time: Either film and television or theater. On the one hand, I admire the students for their self-confidence that they are already showing at the age of 20 - on the other hand, I am unsure whether this bulging chest is really an advantage at a young age.

How is your own self-confidence compared to then?

I am very aware of myself as the word implies. For me, that doesn't mean that I tend to overconfirm myself. And self-doubt is a constant companion.

After completing your acting studies in 2004, you took a break before you started your first permanent engagement at the Magdeburg Theater. Would you wish every young actor such a time to pause after the intensive years of training?

It's hard to say because there are so different ways of doing this job. In 2004 I felt like I had to make up for the youth I had missed out on. So I canceled two major theater engagements and two film leading roles and moved back to my father in Heidelberg. When I started to work in 2006, I was incredibly lucky from that point on and met a lot of great people along the way.

Did music play a major role in your life during your studies?

The enthusiasm for music was always there. For me, music and acting clearly belong together.

How did you come to compose primarily theater music?

Like much in my life, that happened by chance. I've always enjoyed making music, but I never had a specific plan where musically I should go. During my studies, something suddenly had to be composed for a lecturer's monologue or for the staging of the directing students - that's how my first contact with theater music took place.

Have you ever considered giving up music for acting?

Yes, very briefly. But I could never choose one or the other art form.

Where were those moments in acting that convinced you not to devote yourself exclusively to music?

There are and have always been. The night before I started my first engagement at the Magdeburg Theater, I dreamed of the stage there - an experience that left an impression on me. Today there are always moments during a performance when I feel why I love my job so much. There is something magical about it when you as an ensemble merge into one unit with your audience on a theater evening. Then there are those wonderful moments on stage when you totally lose yourself as an actor. On some evenings you might only succeed for a millisecond - but this short time is incredibly valuable and euphoric.

In his productions, Thom Luz succeeds like hardly any other director in embarking on a kind of musical-theatrical tour of discovery together with the ensemble and the audience. Is the acoustic walk "Olympiapark in the Dark", in which you can be seen on stage in the stables of the Residenztheater since October 2020, something like the ideal form of theater for you?

I love this evening and Thom Luz was one of the main reasons for my move to the Residenztheater. We are a great ensemble at “Olympiapark in the Dark”, which I found very nice and important as a statement at the beginning of an artistic directorship. But for me there are many more ways of thinking and acting in theater than this very special staging. For example, those evenings when I have to spend more time on stage as a single player because I want the audience to feel how my character's relationship with the other characters is developing.

from left Mareike Beykirch, Noah Saavedra, Mara Miribung, Elias Eilinghoff (front), from left Barbara Melzl, Christoph Franken, Camill Jammal, Daniele Pintaudi (back) © Sandra Then
from left Daniele Pintaudi, Barbara Melzl, Mareike Beykirch, Noah Saavedra, Mara Miribung, Camill Jammal, Christoph Franken, Elias Eilinghoff © Sandra Then
from left Yodit Tarikwa, Florian Jahr, Massiamy Diaby, Vincent Glander, Noah Saavedra, Camill Jammal © Birgit Hupfeld

In your opinion, what skills does a director need to be able to form an orchestra from a heterogeneous ensemble during rehearsals?

Above all, he has to know what he wants to tell. The content should determine the form, not the other way around. I also think it's important that a director likes to observe and describe other people. In my experience, the most interesting directors are those who are very good storytellers both on stage and in private life.

How important is the ensemble idea as a leitmotif for developing a staging?

I find it less important than the fact that every actor in an ensemble has the opportunity to demonstrate their skills on different evenings in roles of different sizes.

Since your first engagement at Theater Magdeburg, you have repeatedly committed yourself to a house for several years. Apart from the economic security, what do you value about a permanent engagement?

The community and, in the best case, the common artistic thought, which, however, needs time to mature. In the long run, my ideal theater would be a collective that not only consists of actors, but also of employees from other theatrical trades. A theater family that gets by for the most part without hierarchies and that is free from the obligation to keep a large machine running in the background.

The power and energy that can grow from a strong theater community is particularly evident at the Residenztheater, where your actors are doing incredible things to stay in touch with your audience during the corona crisis.

I am particularly moved by the conversations that I was able to have as part of the “Resi ruft an” series. There is something very happy about these calls not only for the respective listeners, but also for us actors. A wonderful way to get in touch with new people.

You always approach your profession as an actor with a very refreshing self-irony - I am thinking, for example, of your "Diary of a closed theater" contribution with Michael Goldberg or the short film "Die Marke" 2018, in which you stand up for your Demo tape in search of your perfect actor self. Have you always had this healthy distance from your job?

Interestingly, I find my approach to be the complete opposite of a distance to my job. I think it's important to be able to laugh at yourself - even if you love being an actor as much as I do. For me the funny and the sad are always very close together - like in a Chekhov piece.

How strong is the pressure to have to create a certain image as an actor with increasing awareness?

I find it difficult to answer that because I - I can say that without being coquettish about myself - am not at all a career-minded person (laughs).

You can always be seen in prominent film and television roles. Will we see you on Instagram again sometime if you shoot some more?

For me, this kind of self-marketing feels very strange. Especially in times like the corona crisis, I don't know whether the social networks give most actors the encouragement and confirmation they need. But I openly and honestly admit that I am not immune to looking up how many likes our diary videos of the Residenztheater have received. At the same time, I'm really annoyed that I'm even interested in the like numbers because they say little about the quality of the posts.

What do you wish for the time after the corona crisis - in terms of your job as an actor and theater in general?

I believe that a lot of people think about the current lack of culture very fundamentally and thus also think about the lack of theater, for example. At least that's my impression - perhaps a little too optimistic. I hope that the theater as a transitory, analog medium, as a community and thinking space will gain even more popularity than before. Because the void is so present at the moment. For myself I would like to have many more beautiful roles and a lot of strength and time to implement my many ideas.

Dear Camill, I thank you very much for this wonderful conversation and I am glad that you have taken the time for it despite your many activities! All the best for the coming time and I look forward to the first personal meeting with you in the near future in the Residenztheater!

More information about Camill Jammal:




Twitter @CamillJammal