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International theatre in Berlin

The reputation of Berlin drives this city: Berlin sets new standards in the international cultural landscape. In the past 25 years the Berlin theaters have been voted the theater of the year of all theaters in the German-speaking countries (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) nine times. Prestigious directors and world-famous artists bring modern and successful albeit controversial and irritating formats to the city. And what a shame too, some theatre lovers think, who don’t understand the German language. But why? There’s no reason to think like that! Nobody has to forego exciting theatre plays, shows or films in a city like Berlin!

The spoken theatre – even without any knowledge of German

They were once known as the Friends of Italian Opera; today the name says it all: In the Berlin English Theatre only English is spoken. The programme consists of international guest productions as well as the company’s own stagings from all areas of theatre ranging from classic drama via contemporary plays through to comedy programmes. Foreign companies from all parts of the world also guest in other theatre houses from time to time. German surtitles are then provided for the Berlin audience with such stagings. Nobody has to miss out on the cutting-edge productions taking place in Berlin – most theatres in the city regularly offer plays with English surtitles. In this regard, it’s particularly worth looking at the programmes of the Schaubühne on Lehniner Platz, the Volksbühne on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, the Maxim Gorki Theater the Deutsches Theater Berlin or Theater Strahl. The Komische Oper Berlin is particularly innovative in this area with displays on the back of the seats: All productions without exception here are subtitled in German, English, French and Turkish. The Shakespeare theatre Globe Berlin can be found in the Charlottenburg district: Until the construction of the circular theatre building near the Spree is possible, a catwalk-like ring of stacked wooden components of the future Globe serves as an open-air stage. 

Revue and Varieté – Entertainment without language barrier

Besides the classic spoken theatre, Berlin’s theatres have a variety of entertainment programmes that function across all language barriers. The Varieté-Theatre offers a top-class acrobatic, dance and music format, which comes across wonderfully well without any language whatsoever. Of course, with the artists often coming from the four corners of the world, the shows are spiced with internationally understood humour, which not only overrides the borders and hence language of the countries in question, but is also concerned in making points out of the resulting misunderstandings. The Chamäleon Varieté in the middle of the Hackesche Höfe is also one such theatre house. The Wintergarten Varieté is also particularly popular with foreign-language visitors thanks to its internationally comprehensible show formats. And from October 2012, the “Show Me” production starts in the legendary Friedrichstadt-Palast. The Berlin musical Hinterm Horizont is in German - there are, however, subtitles in English.

International Artists – performances, dance theatres, off-stages

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city has rapidly developed into a magnet for artists from all over the world. This is also reflected in the numerous productions in Berlin’s culture programme. The Hebbel am Ufer Theatre and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) are among these special venues, at which the meeting of various languages and cultures is regarded as an opportunity. Whether performance, opera, documentary theatre or dance – the forms of expression are as varied as the implementations. This is where universal questions are posed and discussed. The Sophiensaele represent a platform for international dance theatre. Here too, an exchange of artists from various cultures takes place, which is mirrored in the exciting approaches to their work. Furthermore, numerous Berlin festivals offer artists an opportunity for international cooperation and audiences an opportunity to discover the artistic currents from various countries and cultures. Included in the annually recurring international festivals Tanz im August (Dance in August) and the Jüdischen Kulturtage (Jewish Culture Days).

Films in the original version

Here, of course, the hearts of cineastes beat faster: Alongside the blockbusters in the multiplex-rooms and the film gems in the repertory cinemas, the city’s cinemas show an impressive selection of films in the original version. There are many other cinemas that also have performances in the original version with German subtitles alongside dubbed versions, including the Odeon Cinema in Berlin-Schöneberg, Cinéma Paris on Kurfürstendamm and the Film Theatre in the Hackesche Höfe. Finally, mention must also be made of the regular film series and many film festivals that provide the opportunity to go and see films from all over the world in their original versions. Dwarfing them all is, of course, the International Film Festival, the Berlinale, in February. But there are also a large number of smaller festivals that bring films from all over the world to Berlin, including the Polish Film Festival filmPolska in April, das Arab Film Festival Berlin in November or the Baltic Film Festival in October.