Growing up with theatre parents, Brecht has long been one of my favourite playwrites, so it was of course particularly nice to see his own theatre, the Berliner Ensemble. Here, there is also a statue of him and if you wander further north, beyond Oranienburger Tor, you end up in the house where he spent his last years after returning from Berlin. His plays were burnt in the 1933 book burning and he spent many years in for instance Sweden before coming back...To me, a Brecht play with music by Kurt Weill is much of what old Berlin is about. Plays giving me an idea of Berlin in between the wars.
I would not ordinarily direct visitors to places which are not easily accessible other than through the local language. I make no apologies for this exception. As you sail past, doth your cap to one of the most notable symbols of political theatre in a country of almost constant political change.
Although this building, the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm, with its lavish neo-baroque interior, proudly proclaims the Berliner Ensemble from its rooftops, it was in 1999 that the curtain finally fell on the theatre and company that was founded by playwrite Bertolt Brecht in 1949 and that reflected the movement that he represented.
In 1928 this theatre premiered Brecht’s Threepenny Opera. With music by Kurt Weill, this musical reflected Brecht’s reactions to the between the wars Germany. It is a powerful piece and (here’s why I mention it at all) gave the world one of the great jazz anthems… “Mack the Knife” ("Die Moritat von Mackie Messer").
I could wax lyrical about the importance of Brecht and the beauty of his simple but powerful writing, but I do not have space here. Let me instead leave you with some lines from his work. As you will see, he is eminently quotable:
Unhappy the land that is in need of heroes.
War is like love; it always finds a way.
It is easier to rob by setting up a bank than by holding up a bank clerk.
After Brecht’s death in 1995 the Berliner Ensemble lost its way somewhat. In 2000, it reopened and today the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm still operates, but with a different vision of what constitutes political theatre than the one promoted by Brecht and his associates.
Brecht is buried in Berlin and on his grave at the Dorotheenstadt and Friedrichswerder Cemetery in Berlin there is only a boulder that bears his name.
For more information on Brecht's life and work, start here http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Bertolt%20Brecht
A place to visit if you are a culture vulture like me. Near Bertolt-Brecht-Platz. The "theater" was founded by Bertolt Brecht, his wife and various artist friends. I was fortunate to visit it with Prof Swalbe a world renowned violinist who was attached to the Berlin Symphony for many years as first violin. A truly remarkable gentleman and a genious.
The City of Brecht
See Berliner Ensemble (the theatre established by Bertolt Brecht, one of my favourite authors) and other Brecht memorabilia like his monument (photo), his house and Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof, the cemetery where he is buried in a fine company of Hegel, Fichte, Heinrich Mann, Heiner Mueller, Anna Seghers...
Memory of times when Berlin was the centre of the world.
THE theatre if you like Bertold Brecht plays (which I do, that's why I sat down next to him on a bench as soon as it was possible to go to East Berlin...) He founded this theatre shortly before he died.