There’s a swell of culture on board boats sailing the seas these days.
Each new boat built today has space for nightly shows to entertain the growing number of guests who are choosing cruises for their holidays.
The spaces where the shows take place, typically after dinner, would be the envy of any theater director. Ocean liners of German travel group TUI, for example, feature show rooms which seat 1,000 people. There are screens mounted on the walls, a stage, an ultra-modern sound system and two devices which artists can use to fly over the audience and onto the stage.
“When ‘My Ship 3’ was christened in Hamburg, that was also the inauguration of the biggest theater built in Germany since the fall of the wall,” said Wolfram Korr, curator for on-board entertainment on the cruise ship.
“The ship will start its first cruise on June 6 and there are more ships to come,” he said.
Originally Mr. Korr started his career as a violinist. In 2002, he became master of concerts at the philharmonic orchestra of the state theater in Cottbus, a small town in eastern Germany.
But he had worked on cruise ships as a young man and he knew the industry and in 2008, he founded his own company Cruise Entertainment, together with his friend, Thomas Schmidt-Ott, a trained cellist.
The firm was bought two years later by TUI, the world’s largest travel and tourism company.
Now, the two founders do the creative thinking for the big shows that are featured on the ships.
They work in an office in downtown Berlin and thanks to low real estate prices and the cruise ship boom, they also have a separate space for tailoring and another room for costumes and props.
It is possible to gain a sense of the industry’s growth as Mr. Korr and his chief director Arthur Castro talk about their success story: they are working on ten big shows for each of the four cruise ships. If each show has a full audience, the show will be watched by 1,000 guests each time, meaning a total of more than 100,000 viewers.
Video: Show time on board the AIDAbella cruise ship.
This is a huge attraction for artists. A regional city show in Germany such as Detmold or Halberstadt, actors may win roles as Hamlet or Gretchen in Goethe’s Faust, but the audiences are far smaller. On a cruise ship, they can play to thousands of people who might not usually go to theaters as the shows on board are free and don’t require extra payment.
Mr. Korr’s cruise ships require an entertainment crew of 465 international artists.
To meet increased demand for entertainment, a new training center for artists who play on board these ships is opening in the south of Berlin.
Dominique Konrath used to work for the Maxim Gorki, a theater in downtown Berlin; now he is responsible for coordinating which artists play where and when on TUI’s cruise ships. It is a complex logistical task.
He is also managing the expansion of the training center, which is to have five big stages. “We are growing our location from 1,500 to 4,000 square meters,” Mr. Konrath said. “But at the same time our company is growing so fast that we need to change things all the time during the planning process.”
It is good news for the artists, who in the past had to practice their songs in the hallways and bathrooms.
This article originally appeared in Der Tagesspiegel. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org