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Revue (Berliner Cabaret #AtoZChallenge)

R (AtoZ Challenge 2019)

There’s no doubt that Berliners loved going out and having fun in the interwar years. Ball-rooms and theatres were extremely popular. Cinema was rising in the favour of the public, but live performances were still the most popular. Most of live entertainment relied on the same main elements to the point that sometimes isn’t easy to tell one from the other. At least at first sight.

During the Weimar Era the revue might have been even more popular than cabaret. Where cabaret always attempted to be a social commentary, and so demanded a certain amount of involvement by the audience, the revue was mindless entertainment that only tried to amuse. Any kind of critical engagement was avoided in favour of the enjoyment of the dance and the songs and the acts.

Revue always took place in theatres and had a more traditional theatrical structure. Performers acted on a stage, the audience sat in rows of seats. There was seldom any direct contact between the two, as instead it was characteristic of cabaret. Beside the revue strived for grandeur. Very far from the intimacy and small ambience of the cabaret, the revue acted out on huge stages, where it was possible to created elaborate and wonder-inspiring setting and where sometimes tens of performance acted at the same time. Costumes and special effects strive to create wonder. Everything in the revue spoke of excess.
It was in the revue, more than in the cabaret, that the kicklines of Girls found their popularity. Here where the international artists would perform and where technical innovation happened more frequently. Avant-gardes lived in the cabaret, the revue was the house of consumerism.

Temple of the night - Berlin's Friedrichstadt-Palast
Temple of the night – Berlin’s Friedrichstadt-Palast

In one thing cabaret and revue matched: they both presented a variety of numbers in one evening, all short and diverse in nature. But because of the grand aspiration of the revue, it needed a great number of performers, and matching professional stuff. The revue was a costly enterprise, that required tens and tens of people working in one night to make it happened.

It will be apparent, then, that Berlin could not provide the human and technical material for three major revues and several smaller ones. Revues had to draw artists from around the world, and it’s through the revue – not cabaret – that the most famous international artists – like Joséphine Baker, Louis Armstrong or Duke Ellington – came to Berlin. Artists came from all nations around Germany, but more often than not from the United State. Because the revue was intensely involved with Americanism. It drew artists and ideas from the American vaudeville shows, to which it was more similar than cabaret.

Because of these characteristics of internationality, revue was a far better tool than cabaret in the presentation of Berlin as a cosmopolis.

Although they offered a similar kind of entertainment, the revue adhered to a more traditional mode of theatre than the cabaret #history #Germany #Berlin Click To Tweet


Peter Jelavich, Berlin Cabaret. Harvard University Press, Harvard, 1993

Berliner Cabaret (AtoZ Challenge 2019) Revue - Both revue and cabaret offered many different, short sketches every night, but they were very different in forms. The revue adhered to a more traditional way of theatre
#AtoZChallenge 2019 - Berliner Cabaret - Revue - They both offered short, diverse sketches per night, but in all else, cabarets and revues were very different
Berliner Cabaret (AtoZ Challenge 2019) Revue - Both revue and cabaret offered many different, short sketches every night, but they were very different in forms. The revue adhered to a more traditional way of theatre


  • Gail Baugniet
    Posted April 21, 2019 at 03:31

    The Revue was certainly entertaining and lively. I wonder if it drew a completely different class of audience than the Cabaret.

    • Post Author
      Posted April 27, 2019 at 09:27

      I imagin not a ‘completely’ different audince, although people seemed to look for quite different entertainment when they chose whether to go to the cabaret or to the revue.

  • Birgit
    Posted April 24, 2019 at 05:47

    This makes perfect sense to me as I always thought the Cabaret was a more intimate setting.

    • Post Author
      Posted April 27, 2019 at 09:28

      When you look a bit more closely, you can see that cabaret and revue really have little in common other than being both variety shows.

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