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The Theater am Schiffbauerdamm (German pronunciation: [teˈaːtɐ am ˈʃɪfbaʊɐˌdam]) is a theatre building at the Schiffbauerdamm riverside in the Mitte district of Berlin, Germany, opened on November 19, 1892. Since 1954 it has been home to the Berliner Ensemble theatre company, founded in 1949 by Helene Weigel and Bertolt Brecht.
The original name of the Neo-baroque construction by the architect Heinrich Seeling was Neues Theater. The first performance was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's play Iphigenie auf Tauris. Die Weber, a naturalistic drama by Gerhart Hauptmann had its premiere in a private audience at the theatre on February 26, 1893. From 1903 to 1906 the Neues Theater was under the management of Max Reinhardt; it later became the site of numerous operetta performances.
With the premiere of the comedy Der fröhliche Weinberg by Carl Zuckmayer on December 22, 1925 the theatre returned to dramatic art, followed by the first performances of The Threepenny Opera (Die Dreigroschenoper) on August 31, 1928 and of the Italienische Nacht by Ödön von Horváth on March 20, 1931. Bertolt Brecht staged Marieluise Fleißer's play Pioneers in Ingolstadt on March 30, 1929, causing a veritable scandal. The theatre saw Gustaf Gründgens giving his debut as a director with Jean Cocteau's Orphée and guest performances by the Truppe 31 stage company of Gustav von Wangenheim.
From 1931 on the theatre was called Deutsches Nationaltheater am Schiffbauerdamm. Notable actors included Lotte Lenya, Carola Neher, Hilde Körber, Helene Weigel, Ernst Busch, Ernst Deutsch, Kurt Gerron, Theo Lingen and Peter Lorre. With the Nazi takeover in 1933 the theatre declined and was finally closed in 1944.
Reopened after World War II it was finally taken over by Bertolt Brecht. Today it is considered one of the most glamorous theatres in Germany and the building is currently undergoing historic preservation.
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