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Successful Season Launch in the Volksbühne Tempelhof

Photos: Kéré Architecture / Barbara Braun

The Volksbühne Berlin's three-week-long launch of its new, temporary performance venue at Tempelhof ended successfully with a sold-out performance of Iphigenia last Tuesday. The opening, three further premieres and nine other performances were attended by around 19,000 visitors. These events took place from 10 September to 3 October on the former airfield, the forecourt and in Hangar 5 of the historic Tempelhof Airport.

French choreographer and dancer Boris Charmatz and his Musée de la danse created the first three premieres - Fous de danse, A Dancer's Day and danse de nuit. The opening of Fous de danse, a ten-hour series of dance performances on the asphalt of the airfield, proved to be quite a moving day for a total of 15,000 visitors and more than 200 co-creators. Programme Director Marietta Piekenbrock: “Curious, mixed, active and highly focussed - we could not have wished for a better audience.”

A total of 220 journalists received accreditations for the four premieres; they reported extensively and for media outlets far beyond Berlin. One of the first reports came from The New York Times, who were impressed by the opening and even detected a positive turnaround in the controversy surrounding the Volksbühne in Berlin: “In a hopeful sign, the local media gave a cautiously warm reception to Fous de Dance”. The Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote the following about A Dancer's Day: “With his choreographic images Boris Charmatz explodes all patterns of perception. The dancers achieve something unbelievable with 10 000 Gestures.” On the same evening, Libération from Paris wrote: “Une pièce d'une rare incandescence” (a piece of rare incandescence). The FAZ commented on Iphigenia's premiere with: “Documentary theatre in the best sense, because it’s unequivocal."

Architect Francis Kéré and his office designed a grandstand for 440 spectators for the opening at Hangar 5, as a prologue for a planned satellite theatre. The construction and performances at Tempelhof were supported by 500,000 euros from the Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin Foundation. Francis Kéré: “We are thrilled that this first step, this design prologue has worked so well. Now we hope to find a way to continue working on the utopia of a satellite theatre for Tempelhof."

Jutta Heim-Wenzler, managing director of Tempelhof Projekt GmbH: “We are proud and grateful to host the Volksbühne. With its strength, courage and dedication, the Volksbühne team has demonstrated the possibilities of the Tempelhof location. This is invaluable for the process of life returning to Tempelhof. The Volksbühne programme in this location was an inspiration for all who attended.”

Chris Dercon, artistic director of the Volksbühne Berlin: “We would like to continuing using the former Tempelhof airport as a temporary alternative venue for the Volksbühne. This is our plan and since February 2015, it's also been our mission, as stipulated by the Berlin Senate. However, the Volksbühne's base funding is not enough to continue supporting Tempelhof as a performance venue. A continuation of the project is feasible if all parties are committed to it, and third-party funding is secured from other partners and sponsors.”

Two of the premieres at Tempelhof, 10,000 gestures by Boris Charmatz and Iphigenia by Mohammad Al Attar and Omar Abusaada, a coproduction with AFAC (The Arab Fund For Arts and Culture), will return to the programme in the Volksbühne's main hall on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, beginning in January 2018.

The first premiere at the Volksbühne on Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz will take place on 10 November 2017. For the grand re-opening, the Volksbühne is presenting three one-act plays by Samuel Beckett, directed by Walter Asmus, as well as works by Tino Sehgal. The entire building will serve as a performance space - the stage, the hall, the foyers. In addition, the Roter Salon and Grüner Salon are opening the same weekend with a dense music, film, performance and discourse programme.

Please contact the press office for press tickets and further information at or +49 (0) 30 24065 611. Further information and photo materials can be found in the press section of

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