Stage Workshop

The stage workshop existed at the Bauhaus from 1921 to 1929. It was headed by Lothar Schreyer until 1923, when it was taken over by Oskar Schlemmer, whose work had a lasting influence on events on the Bauhaus stage.

Walter Gropius saw structural similarities between building and the stage. In order to explore the methods of stage work, he established a stage workshop in which students from all departments were encouraged to participate. Gropius entrusted the development of the workshop to the stage designer and dramaturg Lothar Schreyer, who was the head of the expressionist Sturm-Bühne (Sturm stage) in Berlin from 1918 to 1921.

Schreyer concealed his figures behind geometric full-body masks, mainly in order to explore issues related to the language of form. However, his plays such as Mondspiel (Moon Play) or Kreuzigung (Crucifixion) were poorly received at the Bauhaus. In 1923, Schreyer left the school. He was succeeded by Oskar Schlemmer, whose Triadic Ballet, which he created in 1922, was performed at the Bauhaus the same year. Schlemmer developed a stage theory which centred on the relationship of the human being to space. His Bauhaus dances were definitive productions for the Bauhaus stage in Dessau.

From 1928, Schlemmer, whose workshop had a very modest budget, had less and less time for the stage. He began to teach his course Der Mensch (the human being) and also taught life drawing. Schlemmer ultimately saw his stage work as antithesis to the agitprop theatre introduced to the Bauhaus by a group of young Communist students. These were even permitted to participate in the only tour made by the Bauhaus stage with one of their own plays. However, Schlemmer radically rejected the presence of political agitprop theatre at the Bauhaus and submitted his resignation in the summer of 1929. In order to reduce costs, Hannes Meyer closed the Bauhaus stage down after Schlemmer’s departure.