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Chris Dercon resigns as Volksbühne director

April 13, 2018

Only a few months after launching his first production at the Berlin Volksbühne, the controversial theater director and former Tate Modern head has decided to give up his new role in the capital.

Deutschland Berlin Polizei in besetzter Volksbühne
Image: picture-alliance /dpa/M. Gambarini

Following intensive protests against the decision to install Chris Dercon as director of Berlin's radical theater with a strong left-wing tradition, the former head of London's Tate Modern has decided to call it quits.

Berlin's Culture Senator Klaus Lederer concurred that Dercon should resign with immediate effect.

"Both parties have agreed that Chris Dercon's appointment has not worked out as hoped, and the Volksbühne promptly needs a fresh start," stated Berlin public radio station, RBB, when first reporting the news.

Read moreCurtain comes down on Frank Castorf's era at the Volksbühne

Lederer said that the Volksbühne's managing director, Klaus Dörr, will temporarily assume the director role.

"By the way, it's important for me to emphasize that the personal attacks and abuses from parts of the city against Chris Dercon in the past were unacceptable," Lederer added. "Such forms of conflict are unworthy and devoid of any culture."

Chris Dercon, director Volksbuehne Berlin, during an interview at the 2017 Frankfurt Book Fai
Chris Dercon stepped down from his contentious role in Berlin after suffering constant personal attacksImage: Getty Images/H. Foerster

Attacks and abuse

After renegade director Frank Castorf ruled the Volksbühne for 25 years, Dercon's appointment was opposed by many for representing a more international and corporate artistic culture in Berlin— and indeed gentrification. Consistent protests against Dercon and a six-day occupation of the former East Berlin theater were matched by a petition against him that was signed by 40,000 people.

Read moreWhy multicultural Berlin can't stomach the internationalization of its most traditional theater

In addition to constant trolling on social media, Dercon also suffered the ignominy of having feces left daily in front of his office last August. He then told DW that he had already started considering leaving Berlin.

But the Belgian former director has also come under criticism for his first productions, which have received a very lukewarm response from audiences and the press. 

Read moreChris Dercon says he's not staging plays for the fan club 

sb/eg (with dpa)

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