Leopold Hoesch
Dag Freyer
Nicholas von Brauchitsch
ZDFtheaterkanal / 3sat / ZDFdokukanal
1 x 30'
André Hammesfahr
Mecklenburgisches Staatstheater Schwerin

The state capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and its state theatre Schwerin lie in the midst of unspoilt lake scenery. Esther Schweins reports on Schwerin's turbulent theatre history and presents the associated Low German Fritz Reuter Stage and the annual castle festival.

The house was built from 1883 to 1886 in the style of the Italian Renaissance directly on Lake Schwerin. The year 1918 brought the end of the court theatre in Schwerin. The last Duke of Mecklenburg, Friedrich-Franz IV, had departed for Denmark, and political power was taken over by the new bourgeois-democratic government. A new era had begun: the era of the state theatre and, since 1926, the state theatre. The hope of seeing freer artistic works in Schwerin, which had arisen with the revolution in Berlin, faded with the political development of the Weimar Republic. After the Nazis came to power, the focus was mainly on comedy and operetta. Beethoven's "Fidelio" was the last performance in 1944.

In 1949, Edgar Bennert, one of the survivors of the Sachenhausen concentration camp, took over the directorship of the theatre for ten years. With a view to a socialist national theatre, he wanted to forge closer links between the artists and the working classes, and so he focused on bringing productions to the districts and had theatre buses bring visitors to Schwerin from all over Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. When Christoph Schroth took up his post as theatre director in Schwerin in 1974, the Schwerin-Süd industrial complex had just been built following a decision by the SED party congress to raise the material and cultural standard of living in the region. According to Schroth's maxim "Where I am, there is no province", the upheaval in this district meant a challenge, and he focused on three lines of play: Contemporary drama, especially that from the GDR and USSR, popular theatre and the cultivation of the classical, humanistic heritage to win over the new audience. In the "Discoveries" series, the classics of antiquity and modernity were presented to the audience. For the 30th anniversary of the GDR, Goethe's "Faust" was performed as a six-hour production that caused a sensation. Christoph Schroth's theatre was one of the most exciting ensembles in the GDR, with guest performances all over Europe.

The transition to the post-reunification period was not an easy affair. Of the 530 employees, 200 were laid off in the course of the last fourteen years. In the 1990s, the Schwerin theatre became known above all for Ernst M. Binder's world premieres of Einar Schleef plays, which were dedicated to coming to terms with GDR history. In 1993, artistic director Joachim Kümmritz launched the annual Schlossfestspiele, which brings many visitors to Schwerin from Hamburg and Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony.

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