Post-Migrant Theater: the opening of the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse

2008

Germany

Activism & Resistance Identity & Belonging Media & Culture

Under the patronage of the film director Fatih Akin and the directorship of Sermin Langhoff, the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse celebrated its opening in 2008. The Ballhaus has since provided a venue in which artists can stage works dealing with migrant and post-migrant themes.

The space in the Berlin district of Kreuzberg formerly known as Döring’s Ballrooms, long a venue for regular music and dance performances, public lectures and political assemblies, today houses the “post-migrant theater” BallhausNaunynstrasse. The theater sees itself as a form of creative resistance against the exclusion of migrant artists from the mainstream theater scene in Berlin and their stereotyping in numerous scripts and stage productions. The Ballhaus’s long-serving director SerminLanghoff explains the choice of the term post-migrant as an expression of this protest and of the fact that most of the stories being told there are of people who no longer have a personal experience of migration. According to Langhoff, post-migrant refers, “in our globalized, above all urban experience,” to the “entire common space of diversity beyond questions of origin.”

While in most theaters the program is performed by a set ensemble, the Ballhaus works primarily on a project- and topic-specific basis with various artists and groups. That these artists often lack formal theatrical training or stage experience is a remarkable feature of this model.

Alongside the Ballhaus Naunynstrasse, the Jugendtheaterbüro Berlin (Youth Theater Office Berlin), or JTB, also regularly deals with topics such as migration, religion, integration, and stereotyping or ascription by others in its work. These artists seek to critically question the manner in which the majority population and societal mainstream manage, classify and segregate. Since 2012 Sermin Langdorff has served as artistic director at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin and continues to push for more visibility for post-migrant directors and actors.