Bringing Theatre Heritage to Life

This sub-project is dedicated to the challenge of making theatre heritage visible and finding new virtual forms of mediation that do justice to »theatre« as an immaterial art form in its entirety. For in the many and varied collection sites for theatre history(s), such as private artists’ estates, theatre houses, city museums, museums of local history or technology, the objects are numerous, but often organised in a decentralised manner and insufficiently connected. The artefacts of »theatrical memory« are often removed from their context and are difficult to access for the public. In addition, the ephemeral nature of the theatre as an »ephemeral art form« and the complexity of the theatre as a »Gesamtkunstwerk« cannot or can only partially be reflected in the collection structures. There is also much more to the immaterial cultural heritage of theatre: the stories and the diversity of its participants, the interplay of artistic and technical forces and the atmosphere in the room.

Under the motto »Sharing Heritage« of the European Cultural Heritage Year, we are asking ourselves here how accessibility to »theatre objects« in archives and museums can be improved through the use of digital tools.

As an exemplary application case, one of the most important theatre buildings of the last century is at the centre of our work: the no longer existing Große Schauspielhaus Berlin by the architect Hans Poelzig. In 1919, theatre founder Max Reinhardt and his architect Poelzig created one of the most visionary theatre buildings of the 20th century in the middle of Berlin. With expressionist formal language, innovative stage technology and trend-setting stage space, they created an icon of architecture that became popularly known as the »stalactite cave«. During the Golden Twenties, theatre director Erik Charell brought the glamour of great Broadway shows to Berlin through his revues.

Our cooperation partner – the Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin – is currently celebrating its 100th anniversary in an anniversary season 2019/20 with numerous events, and is bringing the building and its stage art back into the public consciousness as part of its own tradition. The currently developed Virtual Reality project »One Show. Three Perspectives«, which is currently being developed, opens a digital window of experience into the past, through which the history(s) of the theatre, its architecture and its art can be spatially experienced in the here and now.

The special feature of this project: historical objects from the Berlin City Museum and other archives are integrated into the virtual narration. In this way, the digital exhibits, such as programme booklets, props or stage equipment, convey theatre-historical knowledge in a poetic way. Hans Poelzig’s unique architecture becomes a virtual exhibition space that can be experienced virtually, contextualizing the objects through the stories of the three protagonists.

The opening of the VR installation in the foyer of the Friedrichstadt-Palast and in an online version is scheduled for autumn 2020. Further adaptations of this model solution to other theatres and buildings, stories or perspectives, other archive collections are conceivable.



digital.DTHG Team: Pablo Dornhege, Franziska Ritter, Sascha Sigl, Lea Schorling, Rebecca Eisele, Maria Bürger

The project is based on a design »One Show – Ten Perspectives«, which was prototypically conceived by Rebecca Eisele, Elena Kunau, Dominique Lauvernier and Lea Schorling within the framework of the workshop Im/material Theatre Spaces under the direction of Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege under the patronage of the DTHG.


Project website

Opening Night at the Große Schauspielhaus

Time Travel with Virtual Reality – Berlin 1927 Visit Berlin 1927 and explore the VR-reconstruction of the famous theatre. Three storytellers, Walter, Fritzi and Otto, invite you to share their anticipation of the opening night – behind the scenes and on stage. Our digital theatre opens new perspectives; cultural heritage comes alive virtually.     …

News about this project:

Webinar for European Theatre Convention

In this Webinar for the European Theatre Convention, Franziska Ritter will show different approaches and possibilities based on the research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” by digital.DTHG, the digital competence centre of the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft. Theatre has always been a pioneer for the development and application of new technologies, it is a place for artistic …

Beyond the 4th wall: Franziska Ritter speaks at Immersive Tech Week

Franziska Ritter will be discussing stage and set design in virtual space at the IMMERSIVE TECH WEEK in Rotterdam on 1 December 2023. One of the questions will be to what extent virtual stage design practices facilitate the theatre process and help to develop a more sustainable ecosystem for theatres and other cultural institutions. Anne …

Final publication of research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces”

The research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces – Augmented and Virtual Reality for Theatre” has been successfully completed after 2.5 years. This publication summarises the findings of the project and provides insights into the interdisciplinary, practice-oriented research work. Download publication (pdf 8 MB)

Virtual theater architectures and co-creative performance spaces

What is the relationship between theater and immersive technologies? What spatial, technical and narrative qualities does a medium like virtual reality offer? Which aspects are important?

Spatial narratives in virtual reality

What dramaturgical and scenographic means do we use to design virtual experience spaces? How can a room be set in motion virtually? And how do visitors immerse themselves in such a moving space?

Insights and Outlook – Interview Franziska Ritter & Pablo Dornhege

After two intensive research years, the project leaders Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege take a look behind the scenes, draw a summary and glimpse into the future. In doing so, they are asking themselves the same questions that they have posed to their partners in the current project.

Presentation at Bühnentechnische Tagung Ulm

In June 2022, the 61st stage technology conference of the DTHG took place in Ulm: with an extensive program of presentations, panel discussions, round tables and lectures, the theatre landscape was finally able to celebrate its industry meeting live again.  71 companies and more than 1,100 guests were on site, got to know each other …

Results of the project Bringing Theatre Heritage to life

On the occasion of the 100th stage anniversary of the Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin, the goal was to bring the no longer existing predecessor building “Das Große Schauspielhaus Berlin” and its stage art back into public awareness. The VR project “An Evening at the Großes Schauspielhaus – Virtual Reality Time Travel Berlin 1927” opens a digital experience …

Results, licences, sustainable usage

The solutions we developed as part of the research project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” (2019-2022) serve as sustainably transferable concepts due to their prototypical model character. The gained insights and developed model solutions were published on various channels and are made available to the entire cultural landscape for free and flexible use.  Licenses For this purpose, …

Quickly explained: How do I create a digital theater space – 3D construction, photogrammetry or laser scan?

Which methods are available for spatial capture and what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Quickly explained: VR content – pre-produced versus real-time rendered, passive versus interactive?!

The types of content that can be presented and experienced in virtual reality are diverse and very different – we provide an overview.

Quickly recommended: Stores and libraries for 3D objects

As with buying furniture, the same applies to 3D model building: You don’t have to build everything yourself, but can choose various digital objects in large “furniture stores” to furnish your own theater space or stage set. On the other hand, online platforms help to present and share own 3D models or projects. We provide …

Quickly explained: Do you have a clear view? Hygiene, care and maintenance of VR glasses

A VR headset gets to know a lot of faces and noses in the course of its operating life. Therefore, proper handling and care is important – we give you basic tips here:

Conference: “To be or not to be – Historical Theater Buildings: Use and Modernisation”

We are pleased to present the VR experience about the “Großes Schauspielhaus Berlin” at the Deutsches Architekturmuseum Frankfurt / Main on September 16 and 17, 2021 – ICOMOS conference “To be or not to be –Historic Theater Buildings: Use and Modernisation”.

Online-Release: Opening Night at the Große Schauspielhaus

Time Travel with Virtual Reality – Berlin 1927 In cooperation with the Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin, the team of digital.DTHG publishes the virtual reality project “Opening night at the Große Schauspielhaus”.

“Objects on the internet” – Theatre history in digital transformation

Recently, the article “Making im/material theatre spaces tangible – Exploring collection objects virtually” was published in the volume “Objects on the internet – Scientific collections in digital transformation” by transcript publishing house.

Video BTT_digital Session: “Im/material Theatre Spaces”

The project managers Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege present the project “Im/material Theatre Spaces” as an online session from the ditigal.DTHG lab after one year of project duration.

Video: BTT_digital Session “The virtual Große Schauspielhaus Berlin”

At the online session at Bühnentechnische Tagung 2020 in October 2020, both project managers Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege presented interim results of the sub-project “The virtual Große Schauspielhaus Berlin”.

digital.DTHG at Bühnentechnischer Tagung

At the BTT – the Stage Technology Conference, the most important trade fair and further training event for the theatre and event technology sector of the Deutsche Theatertechnische Gesellschaft (DTHG), we will be giving on 28. & 29. October digital a first insight into our projects.

Kick-off workshop and prototype development

An interdisciplinary kick-off workshop entitled “IM/MATERIAL THEATRE SPACES” took place in spring 2019 at the TU Berlin under the direction of Franziska Ritter and Pablo Dornhege.

More projects:

Augmented Reality in Event Technology

The central question in this subproject is to what extent Augmented Reality can be used to improve, facilitate, expand daily work and lead to an increase in safety on stage.

Virtual Stage Rehearsal

With the workshop “How to go Virtual” we have developed a format to give theatres and venues the chance to easily get in touch with virtual reality and to test possible applications. The workshop gives an overview of the different application possibilities of VR in the theatre and enables the use of different VR workflows …

Virtual Training Tools

interactive teaching and learning tools for theatre and event technicians