Research Article

Crisis of succession: On the institutionalization of charismatic rule in German theatre

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Currently leading German theatres have come under intense criticism over questions of artistic leadership. In this paper I shall explore the deeper underlying institutional questions that underpin such debates and ask if they represent a structural crisis besetting our understanding of the modern performing arts. I will revisit Max Weber’s theory of charismatic authority and explore how it became the guiding principle of Nazi cultural policy and examine its institutional continuity after 1945. The first two parts of the article revisit Max Weber’s theory of charismatic authority; the third part sketches the historical background of the German office of Intendant with its roots in both feudal and bureaucratic structures; the final section returns to the current crises at the Munich Kammerspiele and the Berlin Volksbühne.