The Schauspielhaus Bochum – the most beautiful theatre in the world? It's not only the locals who think so. And this doesn't seem to be an over-exaggeration. Built in 1953, the building, with its open façade of windows, towers over the urban space like a ship. Its large auditoriums provide an intense, up-close theatrical experience that you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.
In addition to contemporary interpretations of big, classic material, the Schauspielhaus Bochum also puts on numerous debut performances and play development. Its productions are given guest performances in other theatres across Germany and Europe and are also invited to be performed at international festivals.
Johan Simons, who previously led the Ruhrtriennale for three years, has been the theatre's artistic director since the 2018/2019 season. Simons, who comes from the Netherlands, is breathing new life into the dance department and is adding a legendary venue to the theatre's portfolio in order to do so – the Zeche Eins. This theatrical space was made famous in the 1990s by the Tanztheater Reinhild Hoffmann. There, Simons puts on special, genre-defying productions, as well as plays or dance performances, in equal measure.
As an institution, the Schauspielhaus Bochum dates back to 1908, when the Apollo-Theater, a variety theatre belonging to building contractor Clemens Erlemann, was opened at its current location on the Königsallee. However, the date upon which the theatre was really founded in terms of its current direction was November 1918, when Saladin Schmitt took over artistic direction of the theatre. The theatre as it stands today was built in 1953 on top of the foundations of the original building, which was destroyed in the Second World War. In 2019, the Schauspielhaus Bochum celebrated its 100-year anniversary.
Artistic directors such as Peter Zadek or Claus Peymann saw to it that the theatre built up a legendary reputation throughout Germany. Leander Haußmann, who later rose to fame as a film director (with films such as "Sonnenallee") took over management of the theatre in 1995 as the youngest artistic director in Germany.
When looking at the Schauspielhaus Bochum's programme, it's also very much worth taking a look at the programme for their "Oval Office" venue, which was opened underneath the main auditorium in 1972 by Peter Zadek under the name "Theater Unten".
Artistic director Johan Simons then turned the Theater Unten and the adjacent Eve Bar into the Oval Office – a freely accessible space used for art installations. In doing so, Simons remains true to his approach of building bridges between drama and other art forms. The Oval Office offers bar services before, during and after performances.
The theatre enjoys popularity across an astoundingly broad range of locals – from school pupils to shift workers to university professors. Actress Tana Schanzara was part of the ensemble for 50 years. The square opposite the theatre is dedicated to her memory. A statue of the actress has been installed on a bench underneath a cherry tree in the square, and has since become a popular photo motif.
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