Logo of the Hebbel am Ufer

HAU History

From 1908 to 2012


– the former Hebbel-Theater

1908 – 1934
1907/1908 – Construction of the theatre. The architect: Oskar Kaufmann
1908 – Opening of the Hebbel-Theater, named after the playwright Friedrich Hebbel, who died in 1863. The opening is celebrated with a performance of Hebbel’s play “Maria Magdalena”. Founder and first director: Eugen Robert
1911 – Carl Meinhard and Rudolf Bernauer take over the house. The Hebbel-Theater is renamed “Theater in der Königgrätzer Straße”.
1925 – Victor Barnowsky takes over as director. He engages stars such as Hans Albers, Fritz Kortner, Paul Hörbiger, Curt Bois and director Erwin Piscator
1930 – renamed “Theater in der Stresemannstrasse”.

1934 – 1945
Under National Socialism the theatre is renamed again: “Theater in der Saarlandstrasse”. During the Second World War becomes subject to the Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda and becomes part of the National Socialist Association of Public Stages, with the goal of coordinating German theatre life. General director during this time: Eugen Klöpfer. Starting in 1934 he also become director of the Volksbühne and in 1936 also the general director of the Theater am Nolldendorfplatz. Starting in 1935 Klöpfer is the vice president of the Reichstheaterkammer, and in 1940 he acts in the anti-Semitic propaganda movie “Jud Süß”. Under his direction the theatre becomes a venue for fostering right-wing social satire and comedy. The building remains largely undamaged during the war.

1945 –1987
The house is renamed “Hebbel-Theater”. Reopening on August 15, 1945 with “The Threepenny Opera” by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. Director: Karl Heinz Martin (until 1948). Until the opening of the Schiller Theater in 1951, the house is the most important stage in West Berlin.
1952 – Rudolf Külüs takes over direction of the house. His new ‘Volkstheater’ has great success with actors like Hans Epskamp, Harald Juhnke, Inge Meysel, Klaus Schwarzkopf and Rudolf Platte. Following his death in 1975 his wife Hela Gerber becomes director of the theatre.
1960 – Modernization of the house by architect Sigrid Kressmann.
1972 – The property Hebbel-Theater is bought by the state of Berlin.
1978 – The Hebbel-Theater files for bankruptcy. Afterwards the house is used as an alternative location for other theatres and as a touring house.
1979 – The Hebbel-Theater is protected as a historical site.
1986/1987 – On the occasion of Berlin’s 750 Year Celebration, long overdue renovation and modernization work is initiated by the Berlin Senate.
1987 – Reopening of the Hebbel Theater as a venue for Berlin’s 750 Year Celebration.

1988 – 2003
1988 – The Hebbel-Theater is used for international productions and tours as part of “Werkstatt Berlin” on the occasion of “Kulturhauptstadt Europas E88”.
1988 – Nele Hertling founds the festival “Tanz im August”.
1988 – Founding of the Hebbel-Theater Berlin GmbH as a local institution with Nele Hertling as artistic and managing director. She creates a profile for the house as a venue for international co-productions in contemporary theatre, modern dance and new music theatre, forming a network of co-producers among other houses with a similar profile, such as the TAT in Frankfurt, Felix Meritis in Amsterdam, the Szene Salzburg and the Kaaitheater in Brussels. Under Hertling’s tenure artists and groups from all over the world come to Berlin for the first time, including Robert Wilson, the Wooster Group, Laurie Anderson, Steve Reich, Robert Lepage, Jan Fabre, Hans Jürgen Syberberg, Richard Foreman, Susanne Linke, Meredith Monk, Jo Fabian, Edith Clever, Ricardo Bartis, Heiner Goebbels, Romeo Castellucci and Peter Sellars.


– formerly: Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufer, Theatermanufaktur am Halleschen Ufer, Theater am Halleschen Ufer

1962 – 1981
Jürgen Schitthelm, Leni Langenscheidt, Waltraut Mau, Dieter Sturm and Klaus Weiffenbach found the “Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufer” as a private theatre in a multi-purpose space of the Workers Welfare Association in Kreuzberg.
1968 – Creation of the short-lived “Zodiac Free Arts Lab” (in the space of what is now WAU) by Conrad Schnitzler, Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius, who later became known with the band “Cluster”. The club played an important role in the development of Krautrock.
1970 – Peter Stein, along with a group of young theatre professionals and actors, including Edith Clever, Jutta Lampe, Otto Sander, Udo Samel, Ernst Stötzner and Bruno Ganz, comes to the Schaubühne am Halleschen Ufer. The ensemble becomes world famous.
1981 – The Schaubühne ensemble moves to the Kurfürstendamm to the Mendelsohn building which is renamed “Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz”.

1982 – 1992
The group Theatermanufaktur Berlin, founded in 1970 by the Austrian actress Ilse Scheer and Otto Zonschitz, takes over the house and renames it “Theatermanufaktur am Halleschen Ufer”. Productions of plays by Aristophanes, Brecht, Nestroy, Schwarz, as well as internationally successful tours with “1848” by Otto Zonschitz and “Johann Faustus” by Hanns Eisler.

1992 – 2003
Opening of the “Theater am Halleschen Ufer” with the subtitle “central venue of Berlin’s independent groups”. Hartmut Henne takes over the artistic direction. The house is primarily known as a venue for contemporary dance.
1996 Zebu Kluth takes over direction of the house. He strengthens its profile with programmatic presentation of productions that blur the lines between genres.
2000 – In cooperation with Tanzfabrik Berlin the Theater am Halleschen Ufer puts on “Tanznacht Berlin” for the first time at the Akademie der Künste.
2001 – Björn Dirk Schlüter becomes artistic director.
2003 – The house comes to a close in the spring with “move berlim”, a festival on contemporary Brazilian dance.


– the former Theater am Ufer

1987 – 2003
Founding of the “Theater am Ufer” by a private sponsor. Theater am Ufer becomes the domain of the “Teatr Kreatur” under theatre artist Andrej Woron.
1992 – Invited to the Berlin Theatertreffen. The journal “Theater heute” names Woron director of the year. This is followed by the Friedrich Luft Prize for best staging of the year in 1993 and in 1996 by the Critics Award of the Berliner Zeitung.
1997 – Reopening of the new space after renovation.

HAU Hebbel am Ufer

– the combination of HAU1, HAU2 and HAU3 since 2003

2003 – 2012
The two venues Theater am Halleschen Ufer and Theater am Ufer are transferred to the operations of the Hebbel Theater Berlin GmbH to form Hebbel am Ufer (HAU) under the direction of Matthias Lilienthal. The three spaces get new names: HAU1 (Hebbel Theater), HAU2 (Theater am Halleschen Ufer), HAU3 (Theater am Ufer).

Under Lilienthal’s direction the directors collective Rimini Protokoll works consistently at HAU as do Constanza Macras, Chris Kondek, Hans-Werner Kroesinger, Mette Ingvartsen and Jeremy Wade. There is also long-term collaboration with others, including Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Nowy Teatr in Warsaw, Johan Simon’s NT Gent, Alain Platel/les ballets C de la B and Bruno Beltrão’s Grupo de Rua de Niterói/Rio de Janeiro. The theatre tours “X-Wohnungen”, which take place in various parts of Berlin, are conceptually developed by Lilienthal. With further “site-specific” projects, HAU organizes performances in other places, such as the Tempelhofer Feld. The initiative to engage with the neighbouring area of Kreuzberg/Neukölln is reflected in the programming series “Beyond Belonging – Migration2” in collaboration with Shermin Langhoff, in which Nurkan Erpulat, Neco Çelik, Tamer Yiğit and others make productions. In 2004 and 2012 HAU is named “Theatre of the Year” by the journal “Theater heute”.       

November 2012 – present
Annemie Vanackere takes over as artistic and managing director of HAU Hebbel am Ufer. Reopening in Novemeber 2012 after a redesign of the foyer and of WAU by the set designer Janina Audick.

HAU Hebbel am Ufer presents current positions at the interface of theatre, dance and performance. Additionally, music, visual arts and theoretical discussion events form a consistent part of the programme. Without a fixed ensemble, international co-productions, festivals and projects by the Berlin and (inter)national theatre and dance scene are developed and shown here. The renowned festival “Tanz im August” also continues, with HAU Hebbel am Ufer as its sole organizer since 2013.  Important cornerstones of the programme are a “contemporary repertoire” with regular repeat performances as well as thematic festivals and focal points, for instance “Precarious Bodies: Dance, Performance, Body Politics” (2013), the artistic occupation of HAU1 with “The Great Nature Theater of Oklahoma is calling you!” (2013), “Good Guys Only Win in Movies: Artistic positions from Bucharest and Chișinău” (2014), "Männlich Weiß Heter. A Festival about Privilege" (2015) or “HEINER MÜLLER!” (2016).

Many directors and choreographers have started their international careers here. In the other direction, many international artists have found their way to the Berlin scene through HAU. Meg Stuart with her company Damaged Goods and the choreographer Jérôme Bel, who was invited to the Theatertreffen in 2013 with “Disabled Theatre”, choreographers such as Laurent Chétouane, Kat Válastur, Jeremy Wade, Isabelle Schad and Jefta van Dinther are closely associated with the house. Works by directors such as Nicoleta Esinencu, Hans-Werner Kroesinger, Oliver Frljić, and Kornél Mundruczó and groups such as She She Pop, Gob Squad, and machina eX can be seen regularly at HAU, as well as artists like Phil Collins, Miet Warlop or Vlatka Horvat.