Volksbühne Berlin

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Volksbühne Berlin (summer 2015)

The Volksbühne Berlin (formerly Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz ) was created in 1890 during a founding meeting of the Freie Volksbühne association . The Neue Freie Volksbühne was temporarily split off from it in 1892 , and thanks to the strong growth from 1902 onwards it received enough funds to build its own building. Today's theater is located on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in the Mitte district . It was built not far from the Victoria Theater, which was demolished in 1891 . It was built before the First World War as a joint house for the (later reunited) Freie Volksbühne and the Neue Freie Volksbühne , but it only existed as such until May 17, 1933. From 1947 the house was used as a Volksbühne under the sovereignty of the FDGB . After the fall of the Berlin Wall , Frank Castorf took over . His term of office ended in 2017. His successor Chris Dercon resigned in April 2018. Since 2018 the house has been managed on an interim basis by Klaus Dörr . From the 2021/22 season, René Pollesch will take over the management.

The original auditorium had three tiers with 1968 seats. In the 1960s their number was reduced to the current 800.


The building in its original form before it was destroyed in the war (photo from 1930)
The Volksbühne during the reconstruction (August 1951)
Volksbühne from Berlin TV Tower seen from
The Volksbühne in January 2017
David Woodard in the Red Salon of the Volksbühne Berlin (March 2010)

Thanks to donations from the members, so-called “workers' groschen”, considerable sums of money could be used to start building a theater. From 1913 to 1914 it was built according to plans by the architect Oskar Kaufmann in the Scheunenviertel on what was then Bülowplatz . It was the first theater in Berlin to present itself in the modern style and was designed for around 2000 people. The opening took place on December 30, 1914. The second director of the Volksbühne on Bülowplatz, now known as Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, was Max Reinhardt from 1915 to 1918 . His successor Fritz Holl hired the theater reformer Erwin Piscator , who became the founder of political theater from 1924 to 1927 with his work as director of the Volksbühne. For example, Piscator staged satire evenings, spoken choruses and political reviews on behalf of the KPD , in which he first tried out the use of cinematic means. During the National Socialist era , two play facilities, the theater on Horst-Wessel-Platz and the theater on Saarlandstrasse, were combined under the name of the Volksbühne . After severe war damage and an interim use of the area in front of the building as a place for the Berlin rubble railway , the reconstruction of the house began. To this end, a competition was organized in 1948, after which modern forms were used for the time being, as documented by the side extensions. The defining reconstruction from 1952 to 1954 based on a design by Hans Richter had the aim of "[...] building a new theater using extensive use of the old wall." Jewelry by Franz Metzner, but retained the external shape. Instead of the copper hood and the roof drum, flat roofs were erected so that the stage building got a straight end. The straightening of the elegantly swinging lines of the roof landscape gave the building a more massive urban effect. The Volksbühne was reopened on April 21, 1954 with Schiller'sWilhelm Tell ”, directed by Fritz Wisten . From 1974 to 1977 Benno Besson shaped the appearance of the Volksbühne as artistic director and director. In autumn 1989, actors and students at the Volksbühne took an active part in the mass protests in the GDR, such as the large demonstration in Berlin on November 4, 1989 , which led to the peaceful revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Artistic director Frank Castorf

Under the nineteenth artistic director Frank Castorf , the theater has made headlines since 1992. In addition to Castorf, directors such as Christoph Marthaler , Christoph Schlingensief , Dimiter Gotscheff and René Pollesch developed some of their productions here. The ensemble was famous for its actors such as Henry Hübchen , Ralf Dittrich , Sophie Rois , Corinna Harfouch , Birgit Minichmayr , Kathrin Angerer , Astrid Meyerfeldt , Bernhard Schütz , Herbert Fritsch , Martin Wuttke , Alexander Scheer , Ursula Karusseit and Klaus Mertens , of whom the but most of them have since left the stage. Since 1992 the Volksbühne has been using another venue in the traditional old Berlin Prater in Kastanienallee in the Prenzlauer Berg district . This is where the theater opens up to the performance scene and, in addition to René Pollesch, gives groups such as Gob Squad , Forced Entertainment , She She Pop and SIGNA the opportunity to show their work. In addition, the Volksbühne's P14 youth theater has existed since 1993 . In 2000, Endstation Amerika was nominated for the Nestroy Theater Prize for the best German-language performance and best equipment . In 2003 Bert Neumann and Jan Speckenbach won the Nestroy Theater Prize for the best equipment for Forever Young . In 2006 Katrin Brack received the Faust Theater Prize for the stage design only from Theaternebel in the production of Ivanov by Dimiter Gotscheff. From March to October 2009 the house was renovated and was closed. In addition to the replacement of the stage technology, which is over fifty years old, the auditorium, administration offices and fire protection were renewed. The ensemble used the Prater in Prenzlauer Berg instead during the construction phase. From May to August 2009 there were also open-air stage performances on the forecourt of the Volksbühne in a makeshift amphitheater . On November 11, 2009, the Volksbühne's main theater was finally reopened. In 2009, the State of Berlin subsidized each Volksbühne ticket with an average of 184 euros; In the following year, the Volksbühne still received the highest subsidies among the theaters, at 141 euros per ticket. Herbert Fritsch has been staging continuously at the Volksbühne since 2011. Five of his productions were invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen. Frank Castorf, René Pollesch, Christoph Marthaler and Herbert Fritsch have shaped Castorf Volksbühne's last years artistically. Castorf's contract was extended by one year by the Berlin Senate at the meeting on March 31, 2015 and ran until the summer of 2017. In 2016 and 2017, theater critics named the Volksbühne German-language theater of the year . In 2014, the Volksbühne counted around 143,000 paying visitors, which corresponded to an occupancy rate of 71%.

His successor, Chris Dercon , was introduced on April 24, 2015.

Director Chris Dercon

After Dercon's appointment had already been controversial, the protest continued after he started working in the summer of 2017. Even before the first performance, the team around the new director reported on hateful letters and e-mails as well as daily feces outside the office door.

Dercon's first season opened on September 10th with the ten-hour event “Fous de danse - All of Berlin dances in Tempelhof” on Tempelhof Field , in which around 200 artists from Berlin and the surrounding area took part and for which the choreographer Boris Charmatz was primarily responsible . A separate Volksbühne ensemble was not presented. With Hangar 5 on the former airport grounds in Berlin-Tempelhof , Dercon wants to establish a new venue for the Volksbühne.

In mid-September, a group of opponents of gentrification announced that they would occupy the large Volksbühne building on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz and perform a three-month alternative schedule. The theater has become a symbol for urban development as a whole through the management of Dercon, who previously acted primarily as a museum manager; Berlin, once a place of longing for creative people, is being offered as booty to a global financial elite. According to media reports, a former assistant to the Volksbühne's head dramaturge, Carl Hegemann, who left the theater together with Castorf, is one of the activists. However, this denied participation.

On September 22, 2017, the group called “Dust to Glitzer” occupied the theater, reactivated the official name “Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz”, which Dercon had abolished, and called on the Berlin Senate to give Dercon a three-month occupation to provide an alternative venue. Employees of the house would be integrated into a "new situation without hierarchies", former Castorf employees were invited to actively participate. The occupation was ended by the police on September 28, 2017 after negotiations between the activists, the Senator for Culture Klaus Lederer and Artistic Director Chris Dercon had failed. Since the occupiers refused to voluntarily leave the theater, Dercon filed charges of trespassing .

On April 13, 2018, Dercon's directorship was terminated with immediate effect. Since then, the Volksbühne has been under the management of Klaus Dörr ad interim . From the 2021/22 season, René Pollesch will take over the management.


1914-1932 1932-1965 1965-2017 since 2017
Emil Lessing (1914-1915) Heinz Hilpert (1932–1934) Karl Holán (1965–1974) Chris Dercon (2017-2018)
Max Reinhardt (1915-1918) Bernhard zu Solms-Laubach (1934–1936) Benno Besson (1974–1978) René Pollesch (from 2021/22)
Friedrich Kayßler (1918–1923) Eugen Klöpfer (1936–1944) Fritz Rödel (1978–1990)
Fritz Holl (1923–1928) Fritz Wisten (1953–1961) W. Wagner , M. van de Kamp , A. Hahn (1990–1991)
Heinrich Neft (1928–1929) Wolfgang Heinz (1961–1963) Annegret Hahn (1991–1992)
Karl Heinz Martin (1929–1932) Maxim Vallentin (1963-1965) Frank Castorf (1992-2017)

Honorary members

See also


  • Theater der Zeit (special edition): Beware of the Volksbühne! The theater. The town. The public. Berlin 2018, ISBN 978-3-95749-172-5 .
  • Tanja Bogusz : Institution and Utopia: East-West Transformations at the Berliner Volksbühne. Transcript, Bielefeld 2007.
  • Heinrich Braulich: The Volksbühne. Theater and politics in the German Volksbühne movement. Henschel, Berlin (GDR) 1976.
  • Cecil Davis: Volksbuhne Movement: A History. Routledge Chapman & Hall, Amsterdam 2000.
  • Antje Dietze: Ambivalences of transition: The Volksbühne at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz in Berlin in the nineties . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2014, ISBN 978-3-525-30171-5 .
  • Thomas Irmer, Harald Müller (ed.): Ten years of the Volksbühne: Artistic director Frank Castorf . Theater der Zeit, Berlin 2002.
  • Ute Kiehn: Theater in the “Third Reich”: Volksbühne Berlin. wvb, Berlin 2001.
  • Siegfried Nestriepke : History of the Volksbühne Berlin. Part 1: 1890 to 1914. Volksbühne, Berlin 1930.
  • Hans-Dieter Schütt , Kirsten Hehmeyer: Castorf's Volksbühne. Nice pictures of ugly life. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 1999.
  • Almut Schwerd: Between Social Democracy and Communism. On the history of the Volksbühne from 1918–1933. von Koch, Planegg 1982.
  • Dieter Weigert: The theater in the urban desert. The construction of the Volksbühne on Bülowplatz . In: Berlin monthly magazine ( Luisenstädtischer Bildungsverein ) . Issue 4, 2000, ISSN  0944-5560 , p. 36–43 ( luise-berlin.de ).
  • Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz (ed.): After a long time, amazing noise. The house on Bülow-, Horst-Wessel-, Liebknecht-, Luxemburg-, Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. 100 years of the Volksbühne. Self-published, Berlin 2014.

Web links

Commons : Volksbühne Berlin  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The smell of the Volksbühne returns. Retrieved April 1, 2020 .
  2. Kathrin Chod, Herbert Schwenk, Hainer Weisspflug: Volksbühne . In: Hans-Jürgen Mende , Kurt Wernicke (ed.): Berliner Bezirkslexikon, Mitte . Luisenstadt educational association . tape 2 : N to Z . Haude and Spener / Edition Luisenstadt, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89542-111-1 ( luise-berlin.de - as of October 7, 2009).
  3. volksbühne berlin: collaboration as a model (PDF) p. 2, in: Chris Dercon becomes new director of the Volksbühne , Senate Chancellery Berlin, press release of April 24, 2015
  4. a b Theater Directory . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1940, part 1, p. 6 (interior view).
  5. "100 Years of the Volksbühne in Berlin" In: Berliner Morgenpost from December 30, 2014
  6. Season chronicle 1953 to 1960. volksbuehne.adk.de, accessed on March 21, 2020.
  7. ^ Matthias Heine: Volksbühne Berlin: Vanishing point Oberhausen . In: Die Welt Online , March 10, 2010
  8. Volksbühne on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz is being renovated . Press release from the Senate Department for Urban Development, February 19, 2009
  9. Volksbühne opens . In: Tagesspiegel , November 11, 2009
  10. ^ State Opera: Expensive Culture
  11. State sponsors each ticket with 100 euros . In: Tagesspiegel
  12. a b Press release on the meeting of the Berlin Senate on March 31, 2015 , accessed on April 1, 2015.
  13. New director of the Volksbühne: Chris Dercon introduces himself. in: Der Tagesspiegel from April 24, 2015, accessed on July 31, 2015.
  14. ^ Further dispute over the Berliner Volksbühne. In: Monopol Magazin , August 4, 2017, accessed on August 30, 2017.
  15. Chris Dercon's dance start on the Tempelhofer Feld. in: Spiegel Online from September 11, 2017, accessed on September 23, 2017.
  16. Resistance against Dercon - activists want to occupy the Volksbühne. tagesspiegel.de from September 21, 2017, accessed on September 23, 2017.
  17. Artist collective occupies the Volksbühne in Berlin-Mitte. bz-berlin.de from September 23, 2017, accessed on September 23, 2017
  18. Police vacate the Volksbühne. In: Die Zeit , September 28, 2017, accessed on September 28, 2017.
  19. Klaus Lederer and Chris Dercon agree to end the directorship - press release of April 13, 2018. Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe, April 13, 2018.

Coordinates: 52 ° 31 '37 "  N , 13 ° 24' 43"  E