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:

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