Stage Left

Along a Berlin River, Much Ado About Partisan Perspective

Theater amphitheater_start Source Monbijou-theater
Along the banks of Berlin's Spree River, an irreverent Shakespeare troupe has become a summer theater institution.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Hexenkessel Theater in Berlin’s Monbijou Park, offering a steady diet of offbeat Shakespeare performances, has become a fixture for tourists and locals.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Berlin has Germany’s most vibrant theater and cultural life, with three operas and a range of small and large theaters.
    • The Hexenkessel Shakespeare performances take place in a park across the Spree River from the Bode art museum.
    • The German-language performances are performed by a troupe from the former East Germany.
  • Audio

    Audio

  • Pdf

A track leads to a garden behind a house in East Berlin. On a stage built out of wooden boards, actors in sneakers run through scenes from ‘As You Like It.’

It’s just a quick run-through and some take a break before the evening. Summer is a busy time for the East German theater troupe. They play two Shakespeare pieces each night, on a stage in a park.

For many summers, the actors went from rehearsal downtown to work on the stage, fixing the electrics and touching up the paint.

But a few summers ago, the city allowed them to build an amphitheater in the oldest part of Berlin.

It was an unexpected step closer to permanence for the family troupe that had been used to playing in different locations, struggling with uncertain financing and dealing with unpredictable German weather.

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