Located in beautiful Berne, Switzerland, Upstage staged their first production in 1982. Since then, our lively theatre group has staged over 80 productions and has become a permanent part of the Bernese theatre scene. Each year we put on an spring and autumn production at the Theater am Käfigturm. Throughout the year, we hold regular theatre-based activites.
Each production requires the participation of many volunteers, both onstage and behind the scenes. If you are interested in joining us, Upstage offers a wide range of opportunities to participate in English-language theatre productions. We might have something just right for you!
The idea of an English-speaking amateur dramatic society in Berne was thought up by Rosamund Bandi when she returned to Switzerland in 1981 after spending two years in West Africa, where she had been a member of a local group. She got together with a few friends, and they discussed the question of demand for such entertainment in the Swiss capital. After deciding that it was worth a try, they put an advertisement in the local press and hired the church hall at St. Ursula’s. Around 40 people turned up for the first meeting. After taking the first step, a core of interested people was formed and plans were laid for our first production. Eva Kohler offered to direct Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn, and they set about looking for a possible venue. After visiting a number of places, they decided on the school hall at Köniz Gymnasium, which was booked for two nights. The play was cast and rehearsals started. Meanwhile, most of the cast and other enthusiastic helpers started building the set in a “borrowed” workshop. One of the most valuable acquisitions at this time was yards and yards of discarded book-binding linen, which was then used to build the first set of flats. It was only years later that they had to be replaced. Despite the club having just been founded, they had managed to drum up a good deal of interest, and played to well-filled houses. The response was incredible, and they knew that all our efforts had been worthwhile.
The Käfigturm Theater was built in the cellar of Spitalgasse No. 4, Berne by the owner of the house, Herr Geissler, a lawyer. He wanted to grant his eldest daughter her cherished wish of becoming a theatre manager. In 1969, after a building project that lasted a year, the theatre opened its doors to its first guest productions. Following an excellent start to the theatre’s operations, it soon became obvious that the management of a theatre seating 330 people is no mere hobby. The Käfigturm Theater is, after all, the second largest theatre in Berne after the Stadttheater. Consequently, a series of managers came and went with regularity every year or so for the next ten years. Finding a suitable manager was further complicated by the fact that the Käfigturm Theater to this day, does not enjoy state subsidies. In 1978, the management of the theatre passed to the capable hands of the Mr. Roland Morgenegg, a passionate theatre fan. The theatre is now being managed by his son, Adrian Morgenegg.
The attractive Theater with heart – in the heart of Berne, has, since its foundation, drawn many national and internationally known artistes to its stage. Among them are Ruedi Walter, Walter Roderer, Innes Torelli, Emil, and Dimitri. It is, however, the aim of the management to also offer amateur theatre groups the chance to perform in the heart of Berne. Therefore we enjoy regular appearances of the Bernhard-Theater, the Berner Heimatschutz-Theater, Die Neue Volksbühne Berne, and, of course, the English-language theatre group Upstage, among many other companies. As an encouragement for the theatre public of tomorrow, the Käfigturm Theater offers children’s plays at least twice yearly and a fairy tale production in its winter programme. The management, together with all the guest artistes and theatre groups hope to be able to entertain their faithful public for many years to come with a traditionally varied programme of theatre, music and dance, and to greet them warmly to the Theater with heart – in the heart of Berne.