The article reviews theatre disruption in Europe up to the Weimar Republic before describing the extraordinary range of disruptive activities and the targets of disruptions in Germany and Austria. Drawing on sources uncovered in the ‘Staatsarchiv für Oberbayern’, it considers the responses of key groups within the legal establishment. Lawyers and legal experts concentrated on individual rights and tended to over-intellectualise an essentially practical problem, thereby neglecting consideration of the rights of playwrights, theatre managements and the non-disruptive public. The judiciary exercised anti-democratic and conservative bias through skewed interpretations of statutes, selective recognition of political motivation in judgements and in sentencing, and the zealous implementation of illiberal legislation. The police manipulated the phenomenon, encouraging demonstrations while ruthlessly suppressing left-wing activity. The article concludes that the reactions of the legal establishment were characterised by a preoccupation with arcane issues of individual freedom and the ruthless implementation of class justice.