The Sophiensæle was founded in 1996 by Sasha Waltz and Jochen Sandig, along with Jo Fabian und Dirk Cieslak (Lubricat), in the former building of the craftsman's association of Sophienstraße 18.
From 2000 to 2007 Amelie Deuflhard took over as artistic director of the theatre, followed (until 2010) by Heike Albrecht. Since 2011 the artistic director of Sophiensæle is Franziska Werner.
Today, the Sophiensæle is one of the most important locations for German-speaking independent art-production. Artists from Berlin, as well as the national and international theatre-scene are invited to produce and present their works here. They are selected on the basis of their artistic concepts, contents, and working schemes.
The Sophiensæle is home to cultural discourse and a vast mix of artistic genres – from theatre, dance and music, to performance and visual art - which complement each other and enjoy a productive dialogue. Alongside many young artists such as Rose Beermann, Henrike Iglesias, Lwowski/Kronfoth Musiktheaterkollektiv, Markus&Markus, Lea Moro or Quast&Knoblich, searching for new theatrical languages and forms of expression, a number of established artists and companies have longstanding partnerships with the Sophiensæle. These include choreographers such as Clément Layes, Lea Martini, Sebastian Matthias, Martin Nachbar, Jochen Roller, Naoko Tanaka and Christoph Winkler and directors such as Thorsten Lensing, Johannes Müller + Philine Rinnert or Milo Rau/IIPM, and among others performance groups such as Burmester + Feigl, Lovefuckers, Monster Truck, Schmidli + Haug, Social Muscle Club and Turbo Pascal.
The Sophiensæle belongs to a network of internationally oriented, independent theatres. Other members include Kampnagel Hamburg, Mousonturm Frankfurt/Main, FFT Düsseldorf, Theaterhaus Gessnerallee Zürich and brut Wien. Among others, the Sophiensæle are producer of Tanztage Berlin and Freischwimmer festival. Beyond that, a number of renowned festivals of Berlin take place here, amng others MaerzMusik and Tanz im August. Here is a place devoted to artists as much as the audience, where the face-to-face encounter between these groups is the essential goal.
The Sophiensæle’s architecture, walls and ceilings still reflect the site’s turbulent history and initial designation as a place for assembly, craftsman training and banquet. This special atmosphere creates unique conditions for artistic production and creative encounter. Through selected renovations in 2011, the work environment and convenience for artists and the audience have been considerably improved, while the traces of history within the building have been carefully preserved.
A MOTIVATOR AND PROMOTER
The promotion of young artists and innovative artistic forms of expression and content continues to be the main focus of our work. We support and encourage new impulses and concepts and strive to deepen already-existing partnerships in order to guide artists in their development. Through a network of artists, cultural stakeholders, and art locations of many genres we are able to further establish the Sophiensæle as a major player in the free theatre scene and a platform for current trends in the independent dance-, music-, theatre-, and performance scene of Berlin.
We continue the building’s tradition as a space for assembly. With a welcoming and open-minded spirit, the Sophiensaele promotes a broad examination of contemporary artistic content, aesthetic and positions and seeks a strong connection with artists as well as the audience. We invite artists to tie in their networks with their projects at the Sophiensæle, to communicate with other artists who work with us, and to see the Sophiensæle not only as a place to showcase their works, but also a place that they themselves can shape and develop with us.
Working artistically means reflecting on one’s surroundings. In 1996 the Sophiensæle was born out of the spirit of a group of artists who sought an innovative center and professional infrastructure for independent theatre production. Our work ties in with this founding spirit – the Sophiensæle understands itself as a voice for independent theatre production in Berlin and supports the establishment of Berlin’s independent theatre scene both nationally and internationally. Similar efforts to further the projects of independent theatre groups have gained publicity and significance through the work of the Sophiensæle.
FORMATS + FESTIVALS
The development of innovative forms of expression, series, and festivals plays a large role at the Sophiensæle. The Tanztage Berlin and Freischwimmer festivals, in particular, are central in the promotion of emerging young artists. In addition to that, we experiment with many more new forms of expression, festivals and series.