German puppet theatre. Founded in East Berlin in 1979 by puppeteers Hans Krüger and Therese Thomaschke, it was initially called Theater o.N. In 1980, it was temporarily renamed Theater Zinnober (“Zinnober” cinnabar, for the character of a tale by E.T.A. Hoffmann or for the colour of copper or for the beautiful sound of the word). This was in fact the first “Off-Theater” (fringe or independent theatre) of the German Democratic Republic (Deutsche Demokratische Republik).
One of the company’s first productions to be noticed was the play Die Jäger des verlorenen Verstandes (The Hunters of the Lost Mind, 1982). This glove puppet show with Kasper was a satirical review of the time, both desperate and aggressive. It broke with traditional East German state puppet theatre by constructing a stage out of sheet metal, by using figures of different sizes (built by Christian Werdin) and by ridiculing dramatic and social stereotypes. This production as well as the company’s plays for children, Einzweidreivierfünfsechssieben (Onetwothreefourfivesixseven), with puppets and actors, and Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (The Bremen Town Musicians), as shadow theatre, were awarded prizes. And yet the company had to face censorship and performance bans, as was the case with the solo show of Gabriele Hänel, Station Pillgram 218.
After the Wall fell in 1989, the group took the name of Theater o.N. (Zinnober) and opened a permanent location for their performances in Berlin. In the early 21st century, the theatre offers a broad range of programmes for adults and children – from classics to adaptations of fairy tales and improvisations of new plays.