13 August 1961: And the Wall is built after all – Latest episode of the Theatrescapes Podcast illuminates the Berlin Wall and its impact on German theatre 60 years ago

Workers building the Berlin Wall. August 1961. (photo: Landesarchiv Berlin 0076393/Horst Siegmann)

Exactly sixty years ago, on 13 August 1961, the Berlin Wall was erected. It was not just any architectural structure, but was specifically intended to seal off the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from the western part of the city of Berlin and the surrounding areas. The Wall was 167.8 km long –a stone wall of ideological and political significance for the people on both sides of the Wall. Sixty years have passed since the Wall was built; it lasted 28 years. And although it fell in 1989, it has not lost its symbolic weight to this day.

In the latest episode of the Theatrescapes podcast, theatre scholar Nic Leonhardt talks to the young theatre historian Rebecca Sturm about the consequences of the building of the Wall for theatre in Berlin and in West and East Germany in the period after 1961.

Theatre Historian Rebecca Sturm (photo: private)
Theatre Historian Rebecca Sturm (photo: private)

Rebecca Sturm studied theatre studies at the LMU Munich and has been a research assistant in the ERC project Developing Theatre. Building Expert Networks for Theatre in Emerging Countries after 1945 (GA No. 694559) since 2016. Her PhD project examines the role of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) during the Cold War. Founded in 1948 under the umbrella of UNESCO), the ITI’s aim from the beginning was to create a worldwide network of theatre professionals and to promote cultural exchange and mutual understanding. In her project, Rebecca Sturm particularly focuses on the two parts of Germany, East and West, which both became member states of the ITI in the 1950s.

The Theatrescapes Podcast is produced by the Centre for Global Theatre Research and the ERC project Developing Theatre (GA No. 694559) at LMU Munich. 

The Podcast episodes  are available on iTunes and Spotify

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Special thanks go to our colleague Aydin Alinejadsomeh who conjures everything around the technology.

We would also like to thank the Legon Palwine Band from Accra, Ghana, for letting us use their great music for the podcast!


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