Hellerau Festival Theatre
Also known as: Festspielhaus Theatre
The Festival Theatre in Dresden-Hellerau was a radical alternative to traditional theatre buildings of the time and it revolutionised the dance theatre of the 20th century. It was built in 1911/1912 as an “educational facility for music and rhythm” according to plans by the architect Heinrich Tessenow. The Festival Theatre honours that harmonious combination of living, working and culture in a setting close to nature which the European Lebensreform (life reform) movement had been striving for in Saxony’s garden city of Hellerau since 1909.
The Festival Theatre was the centre of cultural life in the housing estate. Tessenow’s design was groundbreaking and influential in its clarity and functional structure. With the ensemble of theatre, forecourt, open-air arena and surrounding atriums and sunlit yards, the architect brought to life the visions of the music educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze and the stage designer Adolphe Appia in a futuristic spatial composition. With the orchestra pit, audience seating that could be freely adapted and the lack of stage and curtain, Appia named the Festival Theatre a “cathedral of the future”. The idea was for the audience and performers to merge as a spiritual unity. The focus here was on the “bewegter Mensch” (person in motion) – who, by training his rhythmic abilities, was to become a holistic individual.
With world-famous students like Mary Wigman, a fundamental renewal of theatre and the dance movement proceeded from Hellerau. When the First World War broke out, however, this very promising start ended abruptly. Several attempts to revive it later failed. The Festival Theatre was subject to decades of military use, first when the Nazis seized power and then after 1945 by the Soviet Army.
In 1992 the building was handed back to the Free State of Saxony, which had it restored to its original state. Today, as a venue of the state capital of Dresden, the Festival Theatre is again one of the most important interdisciplinary centres of the contemporary arts. The ensemble of Hellerau as a whole is listed as a protected heritage area. [DB/DK]
Contact and opening hours
AddressHellerau Festival Theatre
Depending on the program, the Festspielhaus is open for events or can be visited as part of a booked tour. Special tours for families, children and seniors can also be booked.
Directions by local public transport:Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: Bahnhof Dresden Neustadt, Dresden Hbf
Nächstgelegene Haltestelle ÖPNV (Bus, Straßenbahn o.ä.): SB Linie 8, Haltestelle Am Festspielhaus
Book: Bauhaus 100 Sites of Modernism
Extraordinary sites associated with the Bauhaus and modernism can be found throughout Germany—pioneering architecture that has enduringly shaped our understanding of life and work, learning and living. This travel guide brings the historical and architectural traces of over 100 examples of Neues Bauen building to life, making tangible the impact of the historical Bauhaus beyond the school, its sites and its time.
Bühne der Landeshauptstadt Dresden.
This place is part of the tour:
Examine art and domestic cultureLeipzig, Chemnitz, Dresden, Löbau und Cottbus
In Saxony and Brandenburg you can discover numerous gems of the (residential) culture of the Bauhaus and modernism.