Deutsches Theater

(Berlin)
   The Deutsches Theater remains one of the premiere venues in German theater history by virtue of Otto Brahm's work there during his 10-year lease of the structure from 1894 to 1904, followed by Max Reinhardt's ownership of it from 1906 until 1934; facing expropriation at the hands of the Nazis, Reinhardt in that year bequeathed it to the German nation. The structure had its beginnings in 1850 as the Friedrich-Wilhelmstädtisches Theater under its founder and builder Friedrich Wilhelm Deichmann. He sold it in 1872, after which it went through a series of owners until Adolph L'Arronge bought it and renamed it the Deutsches Theater. L'Arronge ran it himself until leasing it to Brahm in 1894, then selling it to Reinhardt. Reinhardt purchased an adjoining dance hall and named it the Kammerspiele (Chamber Theater, with 456 seats) and made it easily accessible to the main house.
   During the Nazi era, Heinz Hilpert attempted to maintain the theater's illustrious history, since it had been the site of several important world premieres, where dozens of the German theater's most celebrated theater artists had established their careers or had done significant and influential work. The National Socialists maintained the structure admirably, and afterward the Communist regime of the German Democratic Republic did an even better job, given the damage the building sustained in World War II. The Deutsches Theater reopened in October 1945 with Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise).
   In 1949 the Deutsches Theater became home to Bertolt Brecht and the Berliner Ensemble. It was named "State Theater of the German
   Democratic Republic" that same year, and during the ensuing 40-year Cold War period, the Deutsches Theater had some of the best acting and directing talent of which the East German regime could boast. When the GDR collapsed in 1989, the theater entered a period of uncertainty. With the arrival of Bernd Wilms, its future stabilized, and with Wilms's reappointment as intendant in 2005 in the wake of serious infighting among Berlin's governmental and cultural elites, the signal seemed clear that the Deutsches Theater would maintain its status as an important and dynamic landmark on the German cultural landscape.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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