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Friedrichstadtpalast in Berlin
by Becky Tan

The world’s largest stage* the Friedrichstadtpalast, is in the middle of Berlin. This February, for the third year in a row, the super shows, circuses, rock stars, ballet, children’s theater and special events moved out for 11 days to make way for 59 of the Berlinale films: either in competition or as a Panorama Special or a gala.

Director Joshua Marston appeared with his cast to introduce his Forgiveness of Blood and said, “Welcome to this little stage.” Joke. It’s actually 2,854 square meters and the front of the stage runs across 24 meters. The theater has seats for 1,895 guests. Still, it is beautiful and never seems crowded or stuffy and every seat has an optimal view. In the lobbies there are wide curving stairways, stained glass windows which represent scenes from its past history, and cosy nooks with sofas and tables for meeting a friend for conversation. Huge chandeliers give it class.

This beautiful building opened in April 1984, but its history goes back almost 120 years to 1867. From that time the building closed regularly for various reasons and reopened regularly in 1873, 1899, and 1919. This newest Friedrichstadtpalast is a few meters away from the original location and that precursor was torn down in 1987. Although the address is Friedrichstraße 107, the nearest subway stop is Oranienburger Tor – practically in front of the theater.

* Some reports call it Europe’s largest revue theater, but we aren’t going to quibble about that. It’s stupendous and, more importantly, beautiful as well as practical.