Maxim Gorki Theater

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The Maxim Gorki Theatre (German: Maxim Gorki Theater) is a theatre in Berlin-Mitte named after the Soviet writer, Maxim Gorky. In 2012, the Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit named Şermin Langhoff as the artist director of the theatre.[1]

Maxim Gorki Theater
Berliner Singakademie (before 1952)
Berlin, Mitte, Maxim-Gorki-Theater 02.jpg
The Maxim Gorki Theater
AddressBerlin, Dorotheenstadt
Coordinates52°31′08″N 13°23′43″E / 52.51889°N 13.39528°E / 52.51889; 13.39528Coordinates: 52°31′08″N 13°23′43″E / 52.51889°N 13.39528°E / 52.51889; 13.39528
Years active1827–present
ArchitectKarl Friedrich Schinkel and Carl Theodor Ottmer


It is the oldest concert hall building in Berlin.[2] The building was built on behalf of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin, which was founded by Carl Friedrich Christian Fasch in 1791. In the years between 1825 and 1827, under its former director Carl Friedrich Zelter, he set up his own concert hall and his own home. Design and execution were done by junior architect Carl Theodor Ottmer, using plans of the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in the classical style.[3]

Between 1827 and 1828, Alexander von Humboldt gave his Cosmos lectures here. On March 11, 1829, the first performance of a revival of St Matthew Passion by JS Bach performed by the Sing Academy under the direction of Felix Mendelssohn.[4] In the summer of 1848, the building was used as the venue of the Prussian National Assembly.

During the Second World War, the building was badly damaged stopping performances of Sing-Akademie. After that, the Soviet occupying forces confiscated the building and used it in 1947 as a theater house of the neighboring "House(s) of the culture of the Soviet Union" (the present Palais am Festungsgraben). After the reunification, between 1990 and 2012, a very complex legal dispute was fought between the Sing-Akademie and the Land Berlin, both on administrative (restitution) and civil law (correction of the land register entry) around the building and its parcels. After the administrative court of Berlin had decided in favor of the choir in 2004.[5] However, the dispute was not settled.

On 7 July 2011, contrary to the previous opinion of the Administrative Court and the Landgericht, the Berlin Court of Appeal ruled that the land was effectively expropriated, leaving the house initially owned by the State of Berlin.[6][7] The Landgericht had expressly left open whether the Land of Berlin would have to return the land to the Sing-Akademie by way of restitution under Property Law, as it had nothing to decide about it.[8] On 7 December 2012, its judgment decided Bundesgerichtshof that the building with the property was not effectively expropriated and thus still owned by the Sing-Akademie, so that the defendant country Berlin has to contribute to the correction of the Land Register and must agree that the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin is the owner in the land register as registered.[9] As a result, the state of Berlin, the building official for the Maxim Gorki Theater and signed a ground lease agreement for 25 years, which provides for annual rent of each €315,000 euros.[10]

In response to Brecht's Epic Theater in Berlin Ensemble Theater in 1949. Sing-Akademie in 1952 was renamed the Maxim Gorki Theater, "as a place for the care of Russian and Soviet theater art".[11] As a sozialistisches Modelltheater (a socialist model theatre).[12] It was founded under its first director, a Stanislavsky student Maxim Vallentin, a committed socialist realist. The originally planned opening of the theater with Maxim Gorky's Night Asylum (also known as The Lower Depths) was stopped by the State Art Commission.[11] Instead, the building opened on 30 October 1952, with the German premiere of the Soviet piece Für die auf See (For those at sea) by Boris Lawrence.

Then at the end of the 1950s (also under the impression of the uprisings in the GDR, in Poland and in Hungary) there were performances of such pieces as Alfred Matusche's Naked Grass and Heiner Müller's Die Korrektur (The Correction) and Der Lohndrücker (The Scab) both in 1958. Heiner Müller was employed at that time as a dramatist.

The GDR premiere of Volker Braun's Die Übergangsgesellschaft (The Transitional Society}, directed by Thomas Langhoff, caused a sensation in 1988.[13][14]

The 1980s also had performances by Thomas Langhoff's (Chekhov's Three Sisters) and Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.[15]

Intendants (general directors)Edit

1952–1968 1968–1994 1994–2001 2001–2006 2006–2013 ab 2013/14
Maxim Vallentin Albert Hetterle Bernd Wilms Volker Hesse Armin Petras Shermin Langhoff[16] and Jens Hillje[17]


  • 2014 and 2016: Theater of the Year
  • 2015: Theater Prize of the Federal Government ,€80,000
  • 2016: Theater Prize Berlin ,€20,000, for the directors Shermin Langhoff and Jens Hillje . In the jury's statement, it was said that since the 2013/2014 season, the duo have "consistently and radically transformed the Maxim Gorki Theater into a venue that reflects the diversity of the city's population."


  1. ^ "Maxim Gorki Theater Leads an Immigrant Vanguard in Berlin". New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. ^ Malgorzata Omilanowska DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Berlin (20, p. 71, at Google Books
  3. ^ Joseph Eduard Wessely (1887), "Ottmer, Karl Theodor", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 24, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 570–571
  4. ^ Applegate 2005, pp. 30-33
  5. ^ "Pressemitteilung" (in German).
  6. ^ "Verdict: Court: Sing-Akademie without claim to Gorky Theater" (in German). morgenpost. 8 July 2011.
  7. ^ "Streit um das Gorki theater der stempel der geschichte" (in German). 18 July 2011.
  8. ^ "Pressemitteilung" (in German).
  9. ^ "Pressemitteilung des BGH Nr. 201/2012" (in German). 7 December 2012.
  10. ^ "Ein Chor wird reich" (in German). Der Tagesspiegel. 15 June 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  11. ^ a b 50 Jahre Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin – 50 Jahre und kein Ende. Theater der Zeit, 2002, ISBN 3-934344-19-4, Umschlagseite
  12. ^ Michael Wood Heiner Müller's Democratic Theater: The Politics of Making the Audience Work, p. 37, at Google Books
  13. ^ "Die Übergangsgesellschaft von Volker Braun im Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin". (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  14. ^ Matt Cornish Performing Unification: History and Nation in German Theater After 1989, p. 114, at Google Books
  15. ^ Peter Nagy and Philippe Rouyer (Editors) World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Volume 1: Europe, Volume 1, p. 368, at Google Books
  16. ^ "Acting Abroad: Migrants, and Migrant Theater, Take Hold in Berlin". Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  17. ^ Seidler, Ulrich (5 September 2013). "Maxim-Gorki-Theater: Ganz schön viel Wir". Berliner Zeitung (in German). Retrieved 16 January 2019.


  • Applegate, Celia: Bach in Berlin: Nation and Culture in Mendelssohn's Revival of the St. Matthew Passion. Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press, 2005.

External linksEdit


  • 50 years Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin - 50 years and no end . Theater of Time, 2002, ISBN 3-934344-19-4 .
  • Heinrich Trost, Author Collective: The Building and Art Monuments in the GDR - Capital Berlin I. Institute for the Preservation of Monuments. Henschelverlag, Berlin 1983.
  • Georg Dehio u. a .: Handbook of German Art Monuments, Berlin. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich 1994. ISBN 3-422-03038-7
  • Rolf Hosfeld: Berlin cultural seducer. Helmut Metz, Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3-937742-02-6 .
  • The counter-foundation . In: Berliner Zeitung , October 30, 2002; on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the theater
  • Nola, Claudia / Schultze, Arved (ed.): Open Bills. Intendanz Armin Petras - Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin, Theater of Time , Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-943881-32-5