The end of the GDR gave rise to new artistic freedoms in reunited Berlin. Shortly after the fall of the Wall, rebel director Frank Castorf was appointed artistic director of the Volksbühne. His way of working altered the public’s perception of this theatre. The post-reunification audiences in East Berlin were glad to be challenged by a series of radical productions and theatre marathons, and the Volksbühne became a legend. The chronological history of the Castorf era between 1992 and 2017 is told here in excerpts from the productions and in a series of conversations conducted on the long sofa in the theatre’s foyer. This is where we hear from actors including Henry Hübchen, Sophie Rois, Martin Wuttke and Herbert Fritsch, who moved from acting to directing, as well as Castorf himself. The people behind the scenes, who usually remain invisible to the audience, also have their say and are placed on an equal footing with prominent actors and directors.
For all those who weren’t in Berlin during the last 25 years, but also for those who sat in the auditorium as spectators, Pehnert, Ehlert and Ulrich have revisited the story of a newer, freer way of making theatre.
Lutz PehnertMatthias EhlertAdama Ulrich
Documentary form130 min · Colour
Frank CastorfSophie RoisKathrin AngererHerbert FritschHenry HübchenAlexander Scheer
Born in Berlin in 1961, after serving an apprenticeship as a typesetter, he worked for the ‘Junge Welt’ daily newspaper. Since 1995 he has been a freelance writer and director for television. Brand (co-director: Matthias Ehlert) screened in the 1997 Berlinale Forum.Filmography (documentaries)
1996 Brand; co-director: Matthias Ehlert, Forum 2010 DDR Ahoi! 2018 Partisan; co-directors: Matthias Ehlert, Adama Ulrich; Panorama
Born in Berlin in 1967, he studied philosophy, German and history. He has worked as a journalist since 1992 and, since 2012, has been deputy editor-in-chief of ‘Weltkunst’ magazine.Filmography (documentaries)
1996 Brand; Co-director: Lutz Pehnert, Forum 2004 Europas Erbe – Ein Kontinent im Spiegel der Geschichte; Co-director: Lutz Pehnert 2018 Partisan; Co-directors: Lutz Pehnert, Adama Ulrich
A director and writer, she studied cultural theory, aesthetics, theatre history and ethnography in Berlin and completed a PhD in theatre in 1993. She pursues her interests in other cultures and ways of life with cinematic voyages of discovery to Africa, Latin America and the USA.Filmography (documentaries)
2008 Ma vie – Frank Castorf 2012 Vergessene Völker Europas. Die Kaschuben 2018 Partisan; co-directors Lutz Pehnert, Matthias Ehlert, Panorama