Berlin Insights: Maxim Gorki Theater

By Timothy Palma

A ride down Unter den Linden takes you past some of Berlin’s most majestic and historic sites. Facades of Humboldt University, the State Library, and the Staatsoper delivers passers-by to eras grand and regal. It might therefore be easy to miss one of the boulevard’s most remarkable institutions: the Gorki Theater. Modestly designed and tucked away behind the Neue Wache, the Gorki is the smallest in size of the Berliner Staatstheaters. However, in both history and concept, it is truly a grand establishment.

The Maxim-Gorki-Theater was designed by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the same architect who built the beautiful Konzerthaus, as seen at Gendarmenmarkt on our All-in-One City Tour. Constructed originally in 1827 for the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, the Gorki Theater is Berlin’s oldest concert hall. Despite its age, it is anything but traditional. Recently taken over by artistic directors Jens Hillje and Şermin Langhoff, the theater has gone above and beyond expectations to become one of the Germany’s most spoken about creative institutions. The directors are credited with entirely redesigning the establishment’s concept, and successfully bringing it into the 21st Century. The company seeks to present work dealing with societal upheaval and transition, hoping to “affirm self-determination and self-discovery.” The state of transition is evident even in the body of the company: a majority of the actors and directors are foreigners, and Langhoff herself is of Turkish origins. Furthermore, thanks to a system of live projected subtitles, all productions are open to non-German speakers. It is therefore no surprise that last year it was voted “Theater of the Year” by Theaterheute, the industry’s premier magazine.

Today, Thanks to the Gorki, German theater in Berlin is no longer limited to German speakers. English-speaking visitors to Berlin can now enjoy a show of one of the city’s most celebrated theater company’s. Currently, there are over a dozen productions in circulation, including dramas, comedies, and musicals, all of which are on the programme, found on the theater’s website. So don’t miss out, and go get yourself a seat.

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