Theater am Schiffbauerdamm

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Theater am Schiffbauerdamm
Berliner Ensemble / Theater am Schiffbauerdamm

Berliner Ensemble / Theater am Schiffbauerdamm

place Berlin-Mitte in the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Stadt
builder Heinrich Seeling
Construction year 1892
Coordinates 52 ° 31 '18 "  N , 13 ° 23' 10"  E Coordinates: 52 ° 31 '18 "  N , 13 ° 23' 10"  E

The Theater am Schiffbauerdamm is a Berlin theater with a rich and varied history, which is now the venue for the Berliner Ensemble . The theater is located on Bertolt-Brecht-Platz in the Mitte district . The neo-baroque building by the architect Heinrich Seeling is one of the most magnificent theaters in Germany and is now a listed building .

History of the theater

The Theater am Schiffbauerdamm was opened on November 19, 1892 as the Neues Theater am Schiffbauerdamm 4a / 5 in Berlin with the performance of Goethe's Iphigenie auf Tauris .

In addition to popular folk plays typical of the time, the program of the private theater also included premieres such as Gerhart Hauptmann's Die Weber 1893 and plays by young naturalistic dramatists ( Arno Holz and Max Halbe ). Later premieres and German premieres by Maurice Maeterlinck and Frank Wedekind could be seen.

From 1903 to 1906 the house was under the direction of Max Reinhardt , who staged Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream here , as well as Hugo von Hofmannsthal's Elektra and Oscar Wilde's Salome . Pieces by Johann Nestroy , Friedrich Schiller , Ludwig Thoma , Gotthold Ephraim Lessing and Frank Wedekind were played.

Between 1906 and 1925, the building served mainly as an entertainment and operetta theater under changing directors . In 1912 it was renamed Montis Operetta Theater , from 1916 it was called Neues Operettenhaus and from 1921 New Operetta Theater . In retrospect, this name can lead to confusion, because only a few hundred meters away, at Schiffbauerdamm 25, there was another theater with the Komödienhaus , which was called Neues Operettentheater from 1908 to 1912 .

In 1925, "challenging" drama could be seen again: plays by Georg Kaiser , Carl Zuckmayer (world premiere of The Merry Vineyard ) and others. From 1926 to 1928 the theater was the second venue of the Volksbühne Berlin .

Ernst Josef Aufricht made his debut as director in 1928 with the premiere of the Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht / Kurt Weill . Further world premieres by Elisabeth Hauptmann , Ernst Toller (Fire from the Kettles) and Ödön von Horváth (Italian Night) followed. Brecht and Erich Engel staged pioneers in Ingolstadt by Marieluise Fleißer . Aufricht founded the experimental stage for experimental theater works : Gustaf Gründgens showed his first direction: Orpheus by Jean Cocteau . The premiere of Poison Gas über Berlin by Peter Martin Lampel became a scandal and after the premiere it was banned by the censors. The ensemble at this time included Lotte Lenya , Carola Neher , Hilde Körber , Helene Weigel , Robert Bürkner , Ernst Busch , Ernst Deutsch , Kurt Gerron , Theo Lingen , Peter Lorre , Erich Ponto and Leonhard Steckel .

From 1931 the house was called the German National Theater on Schiffbauerdamm . In 1932 the proletarian-revolutionary theater collective Truppe 1931 gave a performance here with the performance Da is buried by Gustav von Wangenheim .

From 1933 until the war-related closure in 1944, the theater was essentially committed to popular entertainment and “perseverance ideology”, entered in the address book as the Schiffbauerdamm theater .

After the Second World War, the actor Rudolf Platte took over the management , followed by Fritz Wisten in 1946 . It played u. a. Steffie Spira , Marianne Wünscher , Franz Kutschera , Rolf Ludwig and Armin Mueller-Stahl .

On April 9, 1953, the central committee of the SED confirmed the decision to hand over the theater to the ensemble of the Kasernierte Volkspolizei (later the Erich Weinert Ensemble ). When Bertolt Brecht found out about it, he successfully appealed to Otto Grotewohl .

Since 1954, the house has been the venue for the Berliner Ensemble founded in 1949 by Helene Weigel and Bertolt Brecht .

In 1993 Rolf Hochhuth founded the Ilse Holzapfel Foundation named after his mother. Hochhuth's foundation then acquired the right of first refusal at the theater and became the new owner in 1996.

The theater building

The actual venue on Bertolt-Brecht-Platz (nameless during the construction period) was planned by the architect as a uniform structure together with the residential building in front of it. It was built behind the already existing residential buildings on Schiffbauerdamm. The south-eastern facade and the corner tower formed the view side. Then a short street led from the Schiffbauerdamm. The buildings up to Friedrichstrasse that existed until they were destroyed in World War II formed the structural connection to the theater building. The venue also suffered slight damage and was rebuilt in simplified forms in the 1950s, removing the decorations (main entrance, tower).

The auditorium inside is divided into a ground floor and two tiers. It was sculptured and decoratively decorated in the neo-baroque style based on models by the sculptor Ernst Westphal . The originally richly furnished foyer and the vestibule were converted into simpler forms.

In 1903/1904 the theater received an orchestra box and a revolving stage. The theater building is a listed building .

Interesting facts from the area

The adjacent residential building at Schiffbauerdamm 5 is also a listed building.

The old Friedrichstadtpalast stood to the side behind the Berliner Ensemble for decades until its structural remains were removed in the 1990s. In the 21st century, the Swiss company Peach Property erected a ten-story, terraced building based on a design by the architect Eike Becker on the Am Zirkus site .

Below Bertolt-Brecht-Platz is the former - so far still piped - course of the Panke , which flows into the Spree at Schiffbauerdamm 2.


  • Christoph Funke, Wolfgang Jansen: Theater on Schiffbauerdamm. The story of a Berlin stage . Links Verlag, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-86153-047-3 .
  • New theater . In: Berliner Amüsements , [1896], p. 11 ff.

Web links

Commons : Theater am Schiffbauerdamm  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. New Theater Almanac / Deutsches Bühnen-Jahrbuch 18 (1907) to 32 (1922).
  2. Theater overview . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1943, part 1, p. 11.
  3. Werner Hecht: Brecht Chronicle 1898–1956, additions . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / M. 2007, ISBN 3-518-41858-0 , p. 118.
  4. Information on the Holzapfel Foundation
  5. Institute for Monument Preservation (Ed.): The architectural and art monuments of the GDR. Capital Berlin-I . Henschelverlag, Berlin 1984, p. 326 ff .
  6. Bertolt-Brecht-Platz 1, Neues Theater, Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, Berliner Ensemble, 1891–1892 by Heinrich Seeling, box conversion 1953
  7. Architectural monument Schiffbauerdamm 5, tenement house, 1892 by Heinrich Seeling
  8. Birgitt Eltzel, Uwe Aulich: Luxury is in demand again. Expensive condominiums are being built in the east and west of the city. There are hardly any free plots left. In: Berliner Zeitung , April 18, 2012.