Linie 1 and the GRIPS Theater: traversing divided and reunified Berlin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Berlin, the largest city and capital of Germany, is home to some 3.5 million residents, approximately 23% of whom are under the age of twenty-five. The modern-day incarnation of reunified Berlin is also less than twenty-five years old – and from the erection of the Berlin Wall on August 13, 1961 until the chain of events that began on November 9, 1989 were set into motion, Berlin was the site of one of the most contentious international borders in the Cold War. Yet a theatrical artifact from this period is still regularly performed at the GRIPS Theater, the most famous theatre for young audiences in Germany. The company’s longest-running show, Linie 1 premiered in West Berlin in April 1986; as of 2013, it is still performed in repertory at GRIPS in its original staging by Wolfgang Kolneder. Written by company founder Volker Ludwig and composer Birger Heymann, Linie 1 would become the second-most successful German musical of all time worldwide.
Using the GRIPS Theater and the musical Linie 1 as a case study, this chapter is concerned with ways in which the divide and reunification of Berlin have influenced performance for the city’s youth. I begin my examination of Linie 1 with a discussion of its ongoing legacy in reunified Berlin. Moving east, I analyze German superstar Sido’s hit song, “Hey Du!,” which samples a famous song from Linie 1, then head west again, back to GRIPS for Linie 2: Der Alptraum (Line 2: The Nightmare), GRIPS’ own musical send-up of itself. Notably, both of these works appeared in 2009, the 20th anniversary of the Mauerfall. By placing my exploration of nationalities, genres, and aesthetics in the context of German reunification, I ask how Linie 1 continues to represent a part of Berlin and its history to its children, for whom the wall stands only in the memories of their elders.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNationalism and Youth in Theatre and Performance
EditorsVictoria Pettersen Lantz, Angela Sweigart-Gallagher
Place of PublicationNew York and London
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-1315816890
ISBN (Print)978-0415739108
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameRoutledge Advances in Theatre and Performance Studies


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