With the start of the open-air season, the ensemble of the Shakespeare Company Berlin returns to the open-air stage – at a new location on the grounds of the Sommerbad am Insulaner. The artist ensemble has been performing Shakespeare’s plays since it was founded in 1999, initially in various places in Berlin. Then it had a location on the south site of Schöneberg for a long time. The troops had to leave because of renovation work. In April 2021, the artist collective submitted the building application for their new, expanded theater, which is now located on a previously unused sunbathing lawn of the summer pool at the Insulaner.
In this way, bathers who would otherwise not go to the theater could be reached, says Christian Hammerich, head of pool management. The bathing companies planned further cooperation with culture and science. The new location is in the original sense of popular theater à la Shakespeare, says Stefan Plepp, Managing Director of Shakespeare in Grün GmbH, which runs the theatre.
Construction work began in January 2022 – and it did not go very smoothly: There was a moment of shock when the meadow on the property was removed and debris from the Second World War came to light, says Katharina Kwasik, who runs the theater together with Plepp . The rubble could be partially recycled and re-inserted into the ground enriched with soil. Kwasik describes this as “physical processing of history”.
The semi-circular wooden structure of the grandstand is based on the classic Shakespeare stage. The two middle rows stand out from the rest with their black color. They come from parts of the old theater. Architecturally, the old should merge with the new. The new facade with its wavy edge symbolically adapts to the summer pool and is intended to shield the performances from the traffic noise of the Munsterdamm.
There is space in front of the grandstand for another 70 guests, including wheelchairs. As with classic Shakespearean theatre, this part of the audience area remains in the open air. The stage and grandstand, on the other hand, will be covered. A total of 400 guests should fit into the theater – but this has not yet been tried.
The losses that the ensemble suffered as a result of the pandemic were compensated for by the funds from the reboot culture funding: The Shakespeare Company Berlin received 100,000 euros. Another 50,000 euros were raised through a crowdfunding campaign. The Shakespeare Company financed about two-thirds of the move and expansion from their own funds.
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The comedy “Much Ado About Nothing” will premiere on June 7th. Also on the program are “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “What You Want” and “The Merchant of Venice”, “Measure for Measure”, and “Love’s Labor Lost”, as well as the tragedies Othello and Macbeth.
Shakespeare wrote a lot about the stars, says Tim Florian Horn, President of the Planetarium Berlin Foundation. He announced that after the performances, theater guests would be invited to the neighboring Wilhelm Foerster Observatory to take a look at the night sky free of charge. Starwalks accompanied by Shakespeare’s texts are also planned.
Shakespeare Company Berlin, Sommerbad am Insulaner, Munsterdamm 80, 12169 Berlin, information on tickets (from 16 euros) and times at shakespeare-in-gruen.de