Fire sprinklers flood historic Berlin theatre

AFP , Wednesday 16 Jul 2014

One of Berlin's most famous theatres and home to Bertolt Brecht's iconic Berliner Ensemble company, was damaged when fire sprinklers went off by accident, the house announced on Wednesday.

Just a day after the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm in the former communist East Berlin closed its doors for its annual summer break, an alarm set off the fire sprinkling system above the stage.

"In the space of just a few minutes, tens of thousands of litres of water flooded sets, a Steinway grand piano, the curtain for 'The Threepenny Opera', stage machinery, sound system and spotlights," the theatre said in a statement.

The building's historic auditorium was not damaged however, it said.

"It is too early to assess the full extent of the damage, but it will almost certainly go into the hundreds of thousands of euros," it added.

No details were given about what may have triggered the alarm.

Since it was built in 1892, the 738-seat theatre has been one of the most important in the German capital, housing Max Reinhardt's legendary theatre company between 1903-1906 and then Brecht's ground-breaking Berliner Ensemble after the World War II.

It hosted a number of important world premieres, including "The Threepenny Opera" by Brecht and composer Kurt Weill in 1928.

The current sell-out production of "The Threepenny Opera" is by experimental US director Robert Wilson.

The new season opens at the end of August.

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