Companies & Venues

In the late 1990s the centre-left Berlin daily "Der Tagesspiegel" bemoaned the fact that there was no longer any theatre in Berlin which merited a special journey from other great germanophone theatre towns such as Hamburg, Munich or Vienna. Unfortunately, that's still the case. There's some very fine theatre to be seen in Berlin - repeat: *some* - but Berlin hasn't bred its own earth-shattering theatre for well over a decade.

Since German reunification, the political "need" to keep so many theatres afloat (the old East v. West "Our-Culture's-Better-Than-Yours"- game) has vanished. Today many theatres have been shut outright such as the the Metropol-Theater (snuffed in 1999), and ensembles have been disbanded (the Berliner Ensemble's ensemble, wound-up in 1999).

Fringe theatre, known in German as "Off-Theater", has been fighting a tough battle for years now - and it's the fringe where anglophone productions take place. These English-speaking theatre groups rarely received more than a token of financial support from the Senat in the 1990s and now most of even that has dried up, resulting in a eviscerated, if still plucky, fringe scene.

English-Language theatre is of a generally high standard in Berlin. Several local groups comprised of excellent mother-tongued thespians as well as top-notch visiting groups from anglophone countries (particularly Ireland and Britain) perform at several theatres in town - especially at the exclusively anglophone theatre Friends of Italian Opera and the multi-faceted Hebbel-Theater .

But with even the top-notch, high-profile artistic institutions being left to scramble for money that the Senat won't give them, things bode poorly for the anglophone fringe scene in Berlin. Only time will tell whether it will be forced to disappear altogether due to financial attrition - after all, most of the people who create anglophone theatre in Berlin do it for artistic merit and love, and rarely earn a penny for their hard work. But artistic merit and love don't pay the rent. Watch this space.

top of page © 1999-2011 Berlin Information Groupanything missing or wrong?