Yesterday I went to see Westberlin at the Schaubühne. I was already feeling very west-berlinish since in the afternoon I had done one of my Eat-The-World tours through Schöneberg. And with all the “Yes we are in West-Berlin, yes Schöneberg was in the American sector” I thought the play was hilarious. And sweet. And it made me cry. But I guess you have to know something about that time when West-Berlin was an island in the red sea, you have to have heard about Rolf Eden, Christiane F. or Rudi Dutschke. Otherwise it’s just a bunch of people who run to and fro on stage like chicken in a henhouse.
An evening by and with Rainald Grebe
Direction: Rainald Grebe
The island in the red sea, the shop-window of the West, the last bastion of western values, chosen destination of the West German youth: West Berlin. This city of never more than 2.23 million inhabitants existed from post-war 1949 to post-Wall 1989, encircled by the GDR. In order to support Westberlin, its inhabitants were freed of the obligation of military service, businesses received massive injections of investment from the Federal Republic of Germany, employees benefited from an eight percent wage top-up – the Berlin bonus – and couples and incomers could draw upon an interest-free ›family establishment‹ loan of 3,000 Deutschmarks. The city filled with draft-dodgers and committed left-wingers as well as students who, in the 1960s, grouped around the Free University and revolted. Benno Ohnesorg was shot dead, Rudi Dutschke wounded and the Red Army Faction and the 2 June Movement later became active. Kommune 1 was founded, houses were squatted, rents were cheap, people met in the courtyards of old buildings or at BBQs on the roof. There were countless alternative radio stations, women-run metalworking shops and bars without closing times where you could drink cheap beer. But there was also glamour and luxury: the Berlinale was founded, stars and celebrities paraded on the red carpet, people shopped at KaDeWe, drank champagne every night and ate caviar. What remains of Westberlin 26 years after it ceased to exist? In his first work for the Schaubühne, Rainald Grebe embarks upon a research trip into a lost paradise.