Otto Brahm's Ibsen cycle at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin

  • Jens-Morten Hanssen UiT - HSL-fakultetet.


In 1909, an Ibsen cycle comprising all of Ibsen’s thirteen contemporary dramas, from The League of Youth to When We Dead Awaken, was presented at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin. The plays were performed consecutively, in chronological order, in the course of six weeks. The cycle was theatre director Otto Brahm’s grand summing-up of his enduring efforts of promoting Ibsen and his works in Germany. The paper examines this performance cycle from different angles. Why did Brahm present the plays as a cycle? What happens when a cyclic pattern is applied on Ibsen’s works?

Research has revealed a great number of Ibsen cycles in German-speaking theatres in the period before World War II. Brahm’s Ibsen cycle was the most prominent, but not by far the only of its kind. The paper points out how thoroughly Brahm planned the cycle, his clever media strategies and how he in the end designed the cycle as a monument of Ibsen and – not least – of his own achievements as the foremost German champion of Ibsen. How was the critical reception of the cycle? Measured both by audience response and critical reception, the cycle was a success. The cycle concept as such, however, was not judged critically. The cyclic take on Ibsen’s works was neither confirmed nor rejected.


Jens-Morten Hanssen, UiT - HSL-fakultetet.

Jens-Morten Hanssen is a Ph.D. candidate at the Centre for Ibsen Studies, Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Oslo.


-       “The Fusion of the Man and His Work: John Gabriel Borkman with Ibsen’s Mask”, in: Ibsen Studies, Vol. 14, 2014, 1-19.

-       “The Biographers’ Tale of Ibsen’s Childhood”, in: Forum for World Literature Studies, Vol.2, No.1, April 2010, Shanghai/Wuhan/West Lafayette, 149-158.

-       ”Fortelleren i fire Ibsen-biografier”, in: Astrid Sæther, Ståle Dingstad, Atle Kittang and Anne Marie Rekdal (ed.), Den biografiske Ibsen, Center for Ibsen Studies, University of Oslo 2010, 119-139.

-       “When Thea stole the Show”, in: Anne-Sofie Hjemdahl (ed.), A Thing or Two About Ibsen. His Possessions, Dramatic Poetry and Life, Andrimne, Oslo 2006, 117-121.

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Hvordan referere
Hanssen, Jens-Morten. 2015. «Otto Brahm’s Ibsen Cycle at the Lessing-Theater in Berlin». Nordlit, nr. 34 (februar):263–270.