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Entrance to the Festspielhaus in Recklinghausen (1949)

Entrance to the Festspielhaus in Recklinghausen (1949)
Source: dpa

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"Art for coal"

The performing arts need warming up in 1947. An illicit transaction evolves into a classic NRW festival: the Recklinghausen "Ruhrfestspiele".

Too cold: in the winter of 1946 there's nothing doing at Hamburg's Schauspielhaus, even rehearsals are virtually impossible in the theatre.

The administrative head of the theatrical company personally rumbles through the Ruhr area in a convoy of lorries. All in vain: there's not a briquette to be had - legally.

But the miners of the "King Louis 4/5" pit in Recklinghausen donate a sizeable shipment - behind the back of the bulletoccupying power! - and the show goes on again in Hamburg.

As a token of their appreciation, three Hamburg companies give performances in Recklinghausen from 28 June to 2 July 1947. "Coal for art - art for coal!" The public is thrilled by this show of thanks, and a festival is born.

Dirk Bitzer

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