The Volksbühne Theater.

Berlin’s Volksbühne Theater Occupied by Activists

A group of activists calling themselves Dust to Glitter are occupying Berlin’s Volksbühne Theater to protest the gentrification of the city, writes Dorian Batycka of Hyperallergic. “We are doing this action because rising rents are making it increasingly difficult for artists to live and work in Berlin,” said Sarah Waterfield, one of Dust to Glitter’s organizers. The gathering started at the theater early in the day on September 22. By evening, around three thousand people had come together as word about the protest spread through social media.

Dust for Glitter is planning a number of initiatives for the theater over the next few months, including a “People’s Stage,” a “parliament of the homeless,” and an “anti-gentrification center.” The group will also stage a production of B61-12, a piece centered around the occupation. The title of the work refers to a type of nuclear explosive.

The appointment of Chris Dercon, the theater’s current head and former director of Tate Modern, has upset many. He succeeded Frank Castorf, who pushed for a more experimental and rigorous mode of theatrical production during his twenty-five-year tenure as the theater’s director. Berlin’s Senator for Cultural Policy, Klaus Lederer, initially referred to Dercon’s hiring as a “mistake,” characterizing it as something that would make Berlin a host to a “neoliberal art scene and jet-setter attitude.” But in a recent posting on Facebook, he supported Dercon, and said that the protesters were impeding upon the theater’s work, which was “not progressive.”

Dercon has reportedly already met with the protesters and affiliated groups. No official word on their specific demands, however, has been announced.