Störtebeker Festspiele 2012 – Off with his head!

Last year I visited the Störtebeker Festspiele – the open-air theatre in Ralswiek on the island of Rügen – for the first time, encountering the end of a three-part story.

Since then it has been an open secret among Störtebeker fans that this year the play will complete a “cycle” of stories and see the main figure beheaded for pirate activities, although anyone not in on the “secret” may have guessed given that the title of the play this year is “Störtebekers Tod” (Störtebeker’s Death).

The stage at sunset

The stage in Ralswiek at sunset

In fact, it is his death in Hamburg that the real Klaus Störtebeker is probably most well-known for.  It is said that he asked for the lives of his men to be spared.  The Mayor of Hamburg promised him not to execute the men who he was able to walk past after his beheading, and according to legend he made it past either 7 or 11 of them.

Klaus Störtebeker (Sascha Gluth)

Klaus Störtebeker (Sascha Gluth)

But before the Festspiele get to that part of the story, they start off just after the end of the last story where Störtebeker had discovered the gold of the Knights Templar.  The gold has now been hidden and in part used to buy land.  The land is known as “Freies Friesland” (Free Frisia).  But the freedom does not last long [Read more…]

Störtebeker Festspiele – Open-Air Theatre on Rügen

The Störtebeker Festspiele are an annual event on the Island of Rügen, on the North-Eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic See (Ostsee).

Started in 1993, the plays tell the story of Klaus Störtebeker, a German pirate who apparently lived at the end of the 14th Century.  Legend has it, that he stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but was also known for his ability to drink large quantities of beer.  The plays on Rügen are often inter-linked, with the story continuing from year to year.

One side of the stage for the 2011 production of the Störtebeker Festspiele

One side of the stage for the 2011 production

Describing the theatre as “open-air” does not really do it justice.  The stage is on the water’s edge – behind it four ships take part in the action.  It is big enough (and strong enough) for 30 horses to be used, and many of the actors ride at sometime during the performance. [Read more…]

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