Built 1867 by Friedrich Hitzig as a market hall this endeavor ended already after just 6 months. Subsequently the building was used as a warehouse until 1873 when it was converted into a circus building with 4500 seats. It re-opened 1873 as “Markthallen-Circus” directed by Salamonsky. In 1879 it was bought by circus director Renz, and renamed “Zirkus Renz”. It was took over by Albert Schumann and renamed “Zirkus Schumann”. Circus and variety performances could be seen there until it closed in 1918.
In 1918 it was bought by Max Reinhardt’s National-Theater AG. In 1918-1919 rebuilding by Hans Poelzig took place. Creating a stage reminding of ancient theatres and a sumptuous expressionist interior decoration reminding of dripstone caves. The re-opening took place on 28th of November 1919 as “Großes Schauspielhaus” with a performance of Aeschylus’s “Oresteia”. Seating capacity was nog ca. 3000 seats. Subsequently used for drama performances, e. g. Max Reinhardt’s productions of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, Rolland’s “Danton”, Schiller’s “Die Räuber”, and Aristophanes’s “Lysistrata”. A second stage in the basement of the complex was used by the cabaret “Schall und Rauch”. After 1924, the complex was mainly used for revue and variety performances.
In 1933 the theater was nationalized and renamed “Theater des Volkes”. Subsequently rebuilt, destroying Poelzig’s decoration and reinstalling a traditional proscenium stage. Used for operetta and ideological drama performances. Destroyed by bombs in 1943.
In 1945 a provisional rebuilding took place. 1947 the building was renamed “Friedrichstadtpalast” and re-opened as a variety theatre that was also known as “Palast Varieté”. The building finally closed in 1980 due to structural problems caused by the stilt fundations. It was demolished in 1985.
The street tat runs along what used to be the front and side of the old circus building is still named Am Zirkus (At the Circus).
Am Zirkus 12
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