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Munich’s Kammerspiele theatre re-imagines Thomas Mann’s unconventional familial relationships

Photo: "File: Münchner Kammerspiele.jpg" by Christian Wolf ( is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

When the Kammerspiele’s shop window performances in November were banned due to drawing overly dense crowds, it was finally time to join so many other theatres across the world in soldiering on with planned performances, online. No on-stage social distancing was needed here; the actors conducted the entire performance from within their own individual glass boxes.

The play, "Gespenster - Erika, Klaus und der Zauberer", explores the relationships between Mann, known by family as the ‘Zauberer’ (Magician) with his golden child, bohemian actress and writer Erika, and long-suffering son Klaus, who, also a writer, always felt devastatingly trapped in Mann’s particularly tenebrous shadow.

Upon logging in, viewers have a choice. They can choose to observe Erika’s box and follow the story from her perspective as she looks back on her life in the year of her death. Alternatively, they can start from an earlier time-point, with the family living in Venice (as Mann writes his seminal ‘Der Tod in Venedig’).

Five cameramen zoom around the actors’ boxes, gliding outwards to momentarily bring dialogues together before separating the polarized audience back into their monologues, with extraordinarily precise choreography. Süddeutsche Zeitung’s review is both admiring and biting, claiming the technique’s novelty wears off all too quickly. Decide for yourself, you can sign up here to receive notice of the next performance.

Photo: Münchner Kammerspiele via Instagram.


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