Theater for all

What do museums, research, churches and math all have in common, besides government funding and a special place in parents’ dreams for their children? They all have a Lange Nacht.

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Photo by Sergej Horovitz

What do museums, research, music, churches and mathematics all have in common, besides government funding and a special place in parents’ dreams for their children? They all have a Lange Nacht (“long night”) devoted specifically to showcasing everything the city has to offer in their particular area.

The trend started with Lange Nacht der Museen in 1997. Since then, this particular Lange Nacht has mushroomed from 12 to 125 participating museums and has been copied in over 120 cities, including Paris and Amsterdam. The format has also been translated to other activities like shopping and sports. One of the youngest in Berlin is devoted to the stage: the Lange Nacht der Opern und Theater, now in its second year.

Cramming so many of Berlin’s theaters – 68 are participating this time – into one evening makes for experience that is far from traditional: the 20- to 30-minute segments of performances being shown at each venue are just a taste of their offerings. The eight shuttle bus routes and sometimes overly full venues also mean that punters can end up confused, lost and without a seat, but it is this very chaos that turns out to be the Lange Nacht’s strength.

While Berlin’s theater, dance, opera and performance venues offer up an endless range of spaces and styles, they are also so numerous and widespread that the smaller ones often get drowned out by theaters with larger advertising budgets and established followings. The Lange Nacht format gives the small fry a chance to shine among the bigger fish – curious visitors often drop in after a show at a larger theater nearby. The evening also injects a salutary dose of equality among the audience: not everyone may be able to cough out €40 for an evening at the theater, but the LNT offers Berliners the opportunity to see as many snippets as the night can carry for a mere €15.

Out of the English language selections for this year’s event, Talking Heads (20:00, English Theatre Berlin, Fidicinstr. 40) and Forced Entertainment’s And On The Thousandth Night… (19:00-24:00, HAU1, Stresemannstr. 29) are sure to be favorites, but it’s also worth checking out the dance program and the venues that don’t rely heavily on language, like Theater Thikwa or the mask theater at Theater Strahl. Take a look at the program ahead of time and pick out a few favorites.

With that in mind, last year’s first attempt suggested that planning too much in advance might just lead you to packed venues and delayed buses (tip: avoid limiting your options by riding a bike). A perhaps better, and certainly less stressful, way to enjoy the evening is to just go out, program in hand, and take it from there. If a normal night at the theater is like a fine steak, then the Lange Nacht is like tapas – it comes in smaller portions, but is just as filling in the end.

Lange Nacht der Opern und Theater, April 10 | A Kombiticket for €15 (€10 for concessions and only €5 for children under 12) entitles you to admission to all events and the use of the shuttle bus service. For a full program, visit