Prize Winner: Shermin Langhoff

The playwright Shermin Langhoff was born in Turkey in 1969 and came to Germany when she was nine years old, at first settling in Nuremberg. As a co-founder of the ‘Kulturinitiative Nürnberg’ association, she was one of the volunteers behind film festivals and other intercultural exchange projects. After voluntary service with the film- and TV-production department of the NDR in Hamburg, she worked as studio and production manager, and later even as director and assistant producer with, among others, Fatih Akin on the films Gegen die Wand (Head On, 2003) and Crossing the Bridge (2004).

Shermin Langhoff curated the ‘X-Wohnungen – Migration’ (‘X-Flats – Migration’) project, together with Matthias Lilienthal, at the Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin in 2004. Fatih Akin directed a theatrical performance in this context for the first time. In 2006–7, Shermin Langhoff curated two intercultural festivals which gained much attention with theatre productions such as Schwarze Jungfrauen (Black Virgins) by Feridun Zaimoglu and Günther Senkel.


Since autumn 2013, Shermin Langhoff has been the artistic director of the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin. Prior to this, she was the superintendent of the Ballhaus Naunystraße theatre in Berlin-Kreuzberg. She established this stage as a forum for theatrical works by the second and third generations of immigrants, and she supports directors, actors, and playwrights who are as of yet unknown in German theatrical circles. At the same time, this post-migrant stage also provides a space for new narratives, stories, and topics beyond ethnic attribution and stereotypes.

According to the KAIROS selection committee, ‘Shermin Langhoff enriches the theatrical scene confidently, assertively, and humorously with outstanding plays by young directors who have not (yet) been seen on other stages. With sensitivity and intuition she discovers young talents whom she supports and mentors. Shermin Langhoff receives this award not only as a theatrical director but also as a cultural mentor.’

The prize-giving ceremony took place in the Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg on 27 February 2011. Fatih Akin spoke in her praise.