My First Volksbühne

The Volksbühne Berlin raced ahead at this year’s Theatertreffen, producing 3 of the 10 best productions of the season and leaving the rest of the German-speaking theatre world trailing behind. Having never been, I decided it was high time for an undercover mission to find out the secret to their success.
My sources had informed me that the Volksbühne was the hipster place to be. Of course, as a first-time detective I need to keep an open mind in the great hipster debate, and try to get an accurate feel for who is spending their Friday night round at Herr Regisseur Castorf’s house. My first clues, however, confirm my sources are reliable; lining the steps of the foyer are a suspicious number of … yes, young people! What’s more, they don’t look unlike this rather scathing approximation. Then again, in the grand scheme of fashion, neither do I. (Mental note to work on my disguises). Beyond the foyer is copious space around the bar to relax pre- and post-show, in the familiar “shabby chic” style, mismatched furniture and worn-out paintwork. So far, so hipster.
Inside the auditorium it’s not so straightforward. Maybe it’s because grey hair and bald heads catch the light, but to me the age-range (and by extension, style choices) of the audience seems to go beyond the hipster cut-off point. Now, this may have been because those hipsters outside were also running late, just like me and my companion (who’d understandably needed some last-minute convincing that his German would be up to a 4-hour adaptation of a Dostoevsky novel without surtitles), whereas the more mature audience members had showed up early, hogging the best seats.
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