Taking the stage from Munich to Magdeburg: 8 highlights of the German theatre scene

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Laura Peacock - [email protected]
Taking the stage from Munich to Magdeburg: 8 highlights of the German theatre scene
Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin. Photo: DPA

Never seen a play in Germany? September marks the opening of new seasons in theatres all around the country. Here are our top picks.


Germany has more state-funded theatres than anywhere else in the world. From modern interpretations of classic theatre to new contemporary drama, all over Germany there are opportunities to immerse yourself in theatre culture. There is even the possibility of watching theatre in English, or German translations of English classics.

We have compiled some of the best theatres to visit across the country and the highlights of their upcoming seasons.

Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg

Founded in 1900, the Deutsches Schauspielhaus is one of Germany’s most well-established theatres. It began as a very traditional theatre showcasing the classics of Shakespeare, Goethe and Schiller. Over time renowned directors including Gustaf Gründgens, Peter Zadek and Frank Baumbauer led the theatre as it gained national, and international recognition.

This season, the beautiful Bühne (stage) of the Schauspielhaus will play host to a new production of Shakespeare’s King Lear, translated into German by Rainer Iwersen.

König Lear premieres October 19th at the Deutsches Schauspielhaus, Hamburg.

Cuvilliés Theater, Munich

After a fire in the Munich Residence in 1750, Maximilian III Joseph, the Elector of Bavaria, commissioned the building of a new theatre. The construction of the Cuvilliés Theatre began in 1751 and finished in 1753. The theatre was destroyed during World War Two, but not before its ornate cladding had been carefully removed to protect it from destruction.

In 1956 the decision was made to rebuild the theatre. It remains to this day one of the most significant Rococo style theatres in Germany.

This season the Cuvilliés Theater will stage an adaptation of Heinrich von Kleist’s novella Die Verlobung in St. Domingo: an 18th Century story of love, race and gender.

Die Verlobung in St Domingo premieres October 6th at the Cuvilliés Theater, Munich

Cuvilliés Theater, Munich. Photo: DPA

Staatschauspiel Dresden

Built between 1911 and 1913 in the style of Neo-Baroque and Art Nouveau, Staatschauspiel Dresden is maintained by the state of Saxony. In February 1945 the theatre was destroyed in the Dresden air raids, but it was rebuilt within three years and re-opened with Ferdinand Bruckner’s play Simon Bolivar on September 23rd, 1948.

This season has begun with a political focus as Heinrich Mann’s Der Untertan and Jurek Becker’s Wir sind auch nur ein Volk both premiered at the beginning of September.

In November the Staatschauspiel will stage the German language premier of Sophie im Schloss des Zauberes, a play based on the English-language novel Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. Film fans might remember the anime version of this book, directed by Hayao Miyazki. 

Wir sind auch nur ein Volk is playing in Kleines Haus 1 until the end of October, Der Untertan is running in the Schauspielhaus until the end of Septmeber, and Sophie im Schloss des Zauberes premieres October 10th in Schauspielhaus, Dresden.

Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus

The Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, known as D’haus, dates back to 1747. It is the only state theatre in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Its current theatre building, on Gustaf-Gründgens-Platz, opened in January 1970 with a performance of Georg Büchner’s Dantons Tod. The modern theatre was designed by Bernhard Pfau, the winner of a 1959 international architecture competition to design the building.

Their next premiere will be a stage adaptation of Franz Kafka’s Das Schloss (The Castle), directed by Jan Philipp Gloger.

Das Schloss premieres on the main stage of the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus on September 15th and will run until November.

Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus. Photo: DPA

Maxim Gorki Theater, Berlin

The Maxim Gorki Theatre was founded in 1952 in a building on Unter den Linden, with the intention of providing somewhere for Russian and Soviet theatre in Berlin. It remained one of the leading theatres of the GDR until the fall of the wall in 1989. Now, the smallest of the five Berlin state theatres presents mainly contemporary theatre and reinterpretations of classics.

A highlight of their upcoming season is Die Gerechten, a stage adaptation of Albert Camus’ The Just Assassins, which will be shown with English surtitles (lyrics or dialogue is usually displayed on a screen beside or above the stage) in every performance. There are also other options in Berlin if your German is not quite yet ready for theatre: the Deutsches Theater sometimes offers performances with English surtitles, and the English Theatre not-so-surprisingly also stages performances in English.

Die Gerechten premieres September 29th in the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin and will be shown on three further occasions, all with English surtitles.

Schauspielhaus Stuttgart

The Schauspielhaus of the Stuttgart theatre was designed by Max Littmann and first opened in 1912. It was destroyed during the Second World War and a new building was constructed between 1959 and 1962. The new building is modern and not as grand as ‘Das Große Haus’ which is home to the Stuttgart opera, but still shows a high calibre of contemporary theatre and modernized classics.

Their upcoming season will range from Romeo and Julia, a German translation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, to Vögel, the German language premiere of Wajdi Mouawad’s modern tale of love and conflict, originally written in French.

Vögel premieres November 16th at the Schauspielhaus Stuttgart and will be performed only three times, the final performance will be December 7th.

Schauspielhaus Stuttgart following renovation in 2012. Photo: DPA

Theater am Goetheplatz, Bremen

The Neoclassical-style Theatre was first opened on August 15th, 1913 with a performance of Oscar Wilde’s A Woman of No Importance (Eine Frau ohne Bedeutung). The theatre was almost entirely reconstructed after World War Two but remained architecturally similar to the original building. The theatre plays host to musicals and opera alongside drama.

As part of their upcoming season they will be staging Der Schimmelreiter, John von Düffel’s stage adaptation of the 1888 novella by Theodor Storm.

Der Schimmelreiter premieres October 6th in the Theater am Goetheplatz, Bremen.

Schauspielhaus Magdeburg

Originally the city villa of the industrialist Ferdinand Klusemann, the house was first used as a playhouse in 1945. In September 2005, the theatre was reopened as the Schauspielhaus during the merging of Magdeburg’s theatre and now it organizes big open-air performances on the Magdeburg Cathedral square in the Summer, known as ‘DomplatzOpenAir’.

This season the theatre will be staging Ein Sommernachtstraum; a musical version of Shakespeare’s classic comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Ein Sommernachtstraum premieres October 5th at the Schauspielhaus Magdeburg and will run until 28th December.



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