The Renaissance-Theater

The Renaissance-Theater in Charlottenburg’s Knesebeckstraße is the only fully-preserved Art Deco theatre in Europe.


It was founded in 1922 by the Viennese writer Theodor Tagger, who wrote under the name of Ferdinand Bruckner, and is regarded today as one of the most important playwrights of the Weimar Era.

The first theatre production in the former cinema, was Ludwig Berger’s play Miß Sara Sampson and it was followed by productions of the work of many contemporary playwrights, especially Strindberg, directed by famous names such as Berthold Viertel and Karl-Heinz Martin. Famous actors were drawn by the quality of the work being staged and stars of the time like Helene Weigel, the wife of Bertolt Brecht, were often seen on stage.

In July 1926, architect Oskar Kaufmann was commissioned to re-design the venue and transform it into a ‘real’ theatre. He had already been responsible for the extraordinary Theater am Nollendorfplatz – now Goya.


In just five months the work was completed and on January 8th 1927, The Renaissance- Theater re-opened. The intimate 250-seat auditorium is a combination of rococo and expressionism. The huge curved back wall is inlaid with mahogany and rosewood, the work of artist César Klein.




This booming era of the arts was brought to a dramatic end in the mid 1930′s and the theatre lay ‘dark’ for most of the next decade.

In late 1946, The British Forces gave a licence to Dr. Kurt Raeck to re-open the theatre, and on December 11th, the first productions opened, a double-bill of Strindberg’s Miss Julie and Georges Courteline’s comedy Boubouroche.

For the next three decades, Kurt Raeck remained at the helm of the Renaissance cementing it’s reputation as the ‘actors theatre’ of Berlin, with many famous names regularly appearing on stage in classic productions.

The reunification of Berlin in 1989, changed the focus of The Renaissance Theatre. New contemporary drama was introduced to the audience  and it now specialises in new writing and modern classics, produced by renowned and respected directors.


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4 Responses to The Renaissance-Theater

  1. today’s Renaissance Theater is also the location of most of the excellent Berliner Lektionen presentations put on by the Berliner Festspiele

  2. Hels says:

    Great post. It is interesting that Cesar Klein was involved in the renovation of the theatre. Post war all the young artist-soldiers returned to civilian life and were involved in the Revolution, the 1919 elections and the Novembergruppe. I think he and his colleagues were admirable people: idealistic, energetic, democratic and socialist.

    No wonder the Nazis tried to close these less traditional, slightly radical places down, as soon as they came to power in 1933.

  3. This looks like a great theatre and I will be sure to check it out when I am next over there. I am not normally a huge fan of art and theatre but there is something in the air in Berlin which gets me excited about these things. I have already booked my next trip with so I’m looking forward to it already

  4. Pingback: Berlin trip 3 : Renaissance Theater | The Vagrant Mood

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