Leopold Hoesch
Niels Negendank
Nicholas von Brauchitsch
ZDFtheaterkanal / 3sat / ZDFdokukanal
1 x 30'
Tom Weichenhain
Schauspiel Köln

Cologne - centre of two highly theatrical events: Catholicism and carnival. Cologne comedy is familiar from radio and television, and when people think of Cologne theatre, they immediately think of Thünnes und Schäl or the folk theatre of the Millowitsch family. But Cologne has also had a municipal theatre since 1872, and such important directors as Hansgünter Heyme and Jürgen Flimm have caused a sensation there.

Esther Schweins introduces Schauspiel Köln, wanders from the roof to the boiler room of the theatre building and in the process provides an insight into the idiosyncratically converted rococo smoking foyer from the 1990s.

Konrad Adenauer's grandson talks about his father's relationship to theatre and Peter Mennekes, Jesuit and well-known Cologne exhibition organiser, talks about the relationship between church and theatre. In addition, the author of "Karnevalsknigge" and co-initiator of the Cologne Stunksitzung, Helga Rensch, reports on the similarities between carnival and theatre. And Ralph Morgenstern, well-known "Kaffeeklatsch" aunt and permanent ensemble member of Schauspiel Köln, describes his experiences as "Wagner" in Goethe's Faust and explains why an acting career like his is only possible in Cologne.

In 1872, the first municipal theatre opened in Cologne: a multi-speciality theatre with 1300 seats in Glockengasse. In the 1920s, Schauspiel Köln achieved national importance. Intendant Gustav Hartung engaged Berlin acting stars to come to the Rhine, for example the legendary Heinrich George. In 1929, the Centre Party opposed a performance of Bertholt Brecht's "Threepenny Opera". Lord Mayor Adenauer is said to have mediated at the time and the play was staged - slightly "defused". Under the Nazis, Alexander Spring, a convinced Nazi, became artistic director. In 1943, the theatre burned to the ground in a heavy bomb attack. In August 1945, only three months after the end of the war, the theatre was the first in the British zone to start playing again.

Alternative venues were the auditorium of the university and a museum in the south of the city. Many new authors were added to the repertoire; for example, the first performance of Thornton Wilder's "We got away with it one more time" took place here. The provisional period lasted until 1962, and even Federal President Heinrich Lübke attended the opening of the new playhouse. There was Schiller's "Robbers" with Klaus-Jürgen Wussow as "Karl". In 1968, Hangünter Heyme, a director who wanted to play the works "not from the page but against the grain", came to the theatre and triggered fierce controversy. Under Jürgen Flimm, from 1979 to 1985, Cologne became a German theatre mecca.

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