Ku′damm theater closes its doors, signalling the end of an era | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 22.05.2018
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Ku'damm theater closes its doors, signalling the end of an era

Located in the heart of historic West Berlin, the Art Deco Kurfuerstendamm Theater and Comedy building will soon be demolished. The last performance in the original building to take place at the end of May.

"Our family has been connected to the building for three generations, and we are very sad that we have to say goodbye," says theater director, Martin Woelffer, in light of the historic building's impending demolition. In a stubborn battle that has lasted more than ten years, the Wölffer family finally reached a compromise that ensures the company's survival — but not that of the original structure.

After the last performance on May 27, the sister stages will move into the nearby Schiller Theater. In 2021, they will be able to return to a new, smaller building in the original location. 

Komödie und Theater am Kurfürstendamm Innnen (picture-alliance/R. Kremming)

Theater director Martin Woelffer

A star-studded history

To many Berliners, the demolition seems a symbolic act of cultural destruction. Considered the epitome of old West Berlin, the Kurfürstendamm was the city's most illustrious shopping street and home of high culture.

In the 1920s, director Max Reinhardt established a new boulevard of theaters on Ku'damm modeled on London's West End or New York's Broadway. In the 1930s, Reinhardt's successor, Hans Woelffer, lured the stars of cinema and TV onto the stages.

The streets retains much of its historical significance — though many Berliners will now rightly fear that this heritage is being lost.

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Culture along Kurfürstendamm

Causing a scandal

In an open letter published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, playwright Rolf Hochhut compares the demolition of the historic stage with the Nazi book burnings of 1933.

Such a bold statement relates to the destruction of the buildings' original Art Deco design elements. Hochhut called the demolition a "scandal" and accused politicians in Berlin of failing to maintain the city's cultural icons. The author is strongly connected to the theater. In 1963, his internationally successful play "The Deputy" was performed there.

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