The Kammerspiele theatre on Maximilianstrasse is a masterpiece of Art Nouveau design and also the place that launched Bertolt Brecht’s career in theatre. It is one of the most important traditional theatre companies in the German-speaking world.
Founded in 1912, the Münchner Kammerspiele theatre company has been based at the chic theatre at Maximilianstrasse 26–28 since 1926. The theatre designed by the architect Richard Riemerschmid is the last remaining art nouveau style theatre in Germany.
Big names from both the national and international theatre scenes, like Franz Xaver Kroetz, Robert Wilson and George Tabori, have staged performances here. The names of some highly regarded actors have long been linked to the Kammerspiele. Nowadays, it is known for its role in the careers of international film and TV stars like Sandra Hüller, Brigitte Hobmeier, Sunnyi Melles, Julia Jentsch, Edgar Selge, Michael von der Au and Frances Fulton Smith. In 2017, the cast included Franz Rogowsky, who acted alongside Isabelle Huppert in Michael Haneke’s film “Happy End”, which was shown at Cannes in 2017.
In an annual survey conducted by “Theater heute”, the most influential industry magazine in the German-speaking theatre world, critics have awarded Kammerspiele with the title of “Theatre of the Year” three times since 2000. However, the Kammerspiele first established itself as a leading avant-garde theatre back in the 1920s, signing up famous names like Therese Giehse and Heinz Rühmann.
In September 1922, Bertolt Brecht’s “Drums in the Night” was performed for the very first time in the Kammerspiele. This was the very first performance of a Brecht piece, marking the start of his career. The play was directed by the artistic director at the time Otto Falckenberg, with Brecht acting as the script editor. The theatre’s acting school, which is named after Otto Falckenberg, was founded in 1946. One of its most famous graduates is Mario Adorf. Joachim Meyerhoff, Actor of the Year for 2017, also attended the Otto Falckenberg school.
Over the past 30 years, directors like Dieter Dorn, Frank Baumbauer and Johan Simons have shaped the theatre’s artistic profile. Matthias Lilienthal has been artistic director of the Kammerspiele since 2015. When he took over this position, his declared aim was to lead a “new type of city theatre”. He was the artistic director and managing director of Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin between 2003 and 2012. In 2014, he curated the Theatre of the World festival in Mannheim.
Lilienthal is famous for radically breaking with theatrical custom and is a provocative figure both within the theatre world itself and outside it, as he is known for blending political issues and performance. The programme is unconventional, mixing productions by international directors with concerts, like a joint performance by Gerhard Polt, the Well Brothers and Die Toten Hosen and even a free drag and karaoke event “Wuss” starring members of the ensemble.