Ursina Lardi

Ursina Lardi
© BAK/Gneborg

Ursina Lardi

Radicalism and consummate artistry

Swiss Grand Award for Theatre / Hans Reinhart Ring 2017

Ursina Lardi was born in Samedan in 1970 and grew up in Poschiavo, in the Italian-speaking part of Graubünden. Today, she is one of Switzerland’s most versatile and best-known female actors. Her involvement in theatre productions in Graubünden began when she was still a child. Having trained as a primary school teacher in Chur, she moved in 1992 to Berlin, where she studied at the Ernst Busch Academy of Dramatic Art until 1996. She subsequently worked at theatres including the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin, the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, the Schauspiel Frankfurt and Schauspiel Hannover, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg and the Berliner Ensemble. She has been a permanent member of the ensemble at Berlin’s Schaubühne since 2012, having first performed there in 2004. Ursina Lardi is particularly known for her numerous film and television roles. In addition to frequent appearances in “Tatort”, her role as Baroness Marie Luise in Michael Haneke’s award-winning 2009 wartime drama “The White Ribbon” is one of her most celebrated parts. In 2014 she received the Swiss Film Award as best female actor for “Dreamland” (2013), the profile of a pregnant woman trying to figure out why her husband is cheating on her with prostitutes. Ursina Lardi has also featured in other successful Swiss films such as “Akte Grüninger” (2014) and “Der Verdingbub” (2011).

Despite her big-screen success, however, theatre remains the centre point of Ursina Lardi’s work. For her, the stage offers greater freedom: once rehearsals are complete the actor can get on with playing their part, without the presence of the director. In film the director is always on set, there are numerous breaks and in the final cut roles are reworked once again or versions chosen without the actor having any say. Ursina Lardi is hugely adaptable and known for her uncompromising performances in difficult roles. She is not afraid to play disagreeable characters, as in the socio-critical TV movie “Im Nirgendwo” (2016), in which she appears as the cynical and hard-nosed journalist Charlotte. For her, whether the character is likeable or not is immaterial – she focuses on playing the part and leaves it to the audience to make up their own minds. During the international guest performance series in the 2016/17 season at the Schauspielhaus in Zurich, Ursina Lardi appeared as an ensemble member in Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” directed by Thorsten Lensing and in Milo Rau’s “Mitleid. Die Geschichte des Maschinengewehrs”, a production of the Schaubühne Berlin.

“I switch costumes and off I go’, is how Ursina Lardi describes the essence of her craft. It’s a statement that underlines her radicalism and consummate artistry. She has come a long way to where she is today, and has got there through sheer consistency. Since training in Berlin she has not just become a celebrated and award-winning cinema performer: she has also remained true to the theatre. Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hanover and – many times over – Berlin are the staging posts in her career. Since 2012, Lardi has been a permanent member of the Berlin Schaubühne. The characters she plays are fundamentally human because they are not one-dimensional but always full of contradictions: cool yet delicate, brash yet fragile.”

Mathias Balzer, jury member