Impulse Theater Festival

Düsseldorf, Cologne and Mülheim an der Ruhr

13— 23 June 2019

About us

Impulse Theater Festival 2018-2020

The Impulse Theatre Festival has been the leading platform for independent theatre in the German-speaking countries for over thirty years. Every year NRW KULTURsekretariat's Impulse Festival presents exemplary works that have been produced outside the classic system of city theatres that test, expand and question the medium of theatre. Many of the artistic innovations that have brought theatre in the German language alive in recent decades – such as Rimini Protokoll, René Pollesch and She She Pop – have been seen at Impulse, being discovered there by the theatre world and the press and gaining an international reputation.

The Festival’s Artistic Director for 2018 to 2020 is the curator, dramaturg and academic Haiko Pfost. Under his leadership, the festival could already continue to extend its role as the meeting point for the independent theatre from all German-speaking countries while simultaneously generating enthusiasm for independent theatre among new audiences. The three core programmes — Showcase, Academy and City Project — rotate each year between the three partner institutions FFT Düsseldorf, studiobühneköln and Ringlokschuppen Ruhr.

The showcase presents a chance to see outstanding productions of the past year and the most interesting newcomers of the season: these are challenging works that represent a plurality of diverse theatre forms and aesthetics and in that plurality epitomize independent theatre. Assessment is carried out by the six-strong Impulse jury that meets once a year to discuss suggestions for the programme. It consists of Impulse’s artistic team, regional scouts and a representative from the audience of its showcase partner.

The Impulse Academy regards itself as forum that is key to understanding the identity of independent theatre. Workshops, lectures, panels and experimental formats will consider issues arising out of independent theatre-making practice: its annual chosen themes cover aesthetic and political questions as well as financial and production matters. The Impulse Academy is aimed primarily at professional theatremakers, students, producers and academics but does not exclude interested members of the public.

City Project
The city project combines urgent issues of our time with a local context — a working method within the performing arts developed by independent theatre. It is particularly accessible in terms of form and encourages a wide audience to sample independent theatre.


Programme, info[a]
Haiko Pfost, Artistic Director
Wilma Renfordt, Dramaturgy
Katalin Erdődi, Direction Academy #1
Jascha Sommer, Direction Academy #2, akademie[a]

Production, produktion[a]
Armin Leoni, Production Management
Theresa Heußen, Production Assistant
Anna Bruendl, City project Production Management, stadtprojekt[a]

Press, presse[a]
Julia Kretschmer, Press/Marketing
Sina Langner, Press Assistant

Editorial team
Patricia Maurer, Editor-in-Chief

Technical Director
Nino Petrich

NRW KULTURsekretariat
Dr. Christian Esch, Director
Christina Schröder, Head of Administration
Martin Maruschka, Press and Public Relations

Impulse Panel 2019
The panel is responsible for assessment and selection of the Showcase. It is made up of Impulse’s artistic team together with external regional experts and an audience representative from our Showcase partner:

Wolfgang Kralicek, scout for Austria
Barbara Odenthal, audience representative FFT Düsseldorf
Gabriele Osswald, scout for South Germany
Haiko Pfost, Impulse Theater Festival’s Artistic Director
Wilma Renfordt, Impulse Theater Festival’s Dramaturg
Barbara Weber, scout for Switzerland


Wolfgang Kralicek is a theatre critic and journalist. He studied Theatre Studies at the Universität Wien and was Cultural Editor of the weekly magazine ‘Falter’ (1995–2015) and Chief Editor of the magazine ‘News’ (2015–2017). Wolfgang Kralicek writes regularly for ‘Theater heute’ magazine and the ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’. He has been a jury member for the Berlin Theatertreffen, co-juror for the Hamburger Autorentage and a member of the selection committee for the Mülheimer Theatertage. Since 2017 he has been a member of the city of Vienna’s Advisory Board on Theatre, Dance and Performance. A selection of theatre Wolfgang Kralicek’s theatre texts have been published in the ‘Stück für Stück’ series (Abo Verlag, Vienna).

Barbara Odenthal is a senor school teacher of English, Education and Literature in Neuss and a member of the NRW’s State Association of Theatre in Schools. As part of her school theatre work she has co-operated with Schlosstheater Moers, for example in NRW’s state-wide Programme for Culture and Schools. From 1999 to 2000 she gained experience in improvisation with director Graham Fletcher-Cook at Jacksons Lane Arts Centre in London and worked on his production ‘Brotherhood’. She has worked as a scout for the FFT Düsseldorf since 2013 and is the audience panel member for the 2019 edition of the Impulse Theater Festival.

Gabriele Oßwald is a visual and performance artist. After working in industry and an active involvement in the trade union movement, she has been a practicing artist since the beginning of the 1990s. In 2001 together with three colleagues she founded the Künstlerhaus zeitraumexit e.V. in Mannheim, which she ran from 2007 to 2016. The team there devised projects including the Festival Wonder of the Prairie and showcases for emerging talents such as ‘Wilsonstraße’ and ‘frisch eingetroffen’. Gabriele Oßwald has been working once again as a freelance curator and artist since 2017, and as a project manager.

Haiko Pfost trained as an industrial manager and studied Theatre, Religious Studies and Psychology in Berlin. He has worked as a festival dramaturg for the Festival Theaterformen in Braunschweig and Hannover, steirischer herbst in Graz, the International Schillertage in Mannheim and was a member of the selection panel for the Festival Politik im Freien Theater in Dresden. Together with Thomas Frank he founded the brut — Koproduktionshaus in Vienna in 2007 and ran the organization until 2013. From 2014 to 2017 he worked as a freelance curator, dramaturg, lecturer and consultant. Haiko Pfost is Artistic Director of the Impulse Theater Festival for its three editions from 2018 to 2020.

Wilma Renfordt studied Theatre, Art History and Literature at the Free University, Berlin. As a dramaturg she has been member of the theatre company copy & waste, has worked on exhibitions and texts at Friedrich von Borries’ “Projektbüro” in Berlin and as a freelance dramaturg and writer for institutions such as the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Gessnerallee Zürich and Sophiensæle Berlin. She was the Dramaturg for the 2017 edition of the steirischer herbst in Graz and has been Dramaturg of the Impulse Theater Festival since 2017.

Barbara Weber studied Theatre Directing at the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Theatre, Music Theatre and Film. She has worked as a theatre director since 2001 and won the Fonds Darstellende Künste’s award at the 2005 Impulse Theater Festival. From 2008 to 2013 she was the Director of the Theater Neumarkt in Zürich together with Rafael Sanchez. Since 2013 she has worked as a freelance curator, director and producer. She was most recently Artistic Director of the long-term festival ZH-REFORMATION.CH and responsible for the talks programme at KUNST:SZENE Zürich 2018.

Partners and Funding Bodies

The Impulse Theater Festival is presented by NRW KULTURsekretariat in co-operation with Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, FFT Düsseldorf and studiobühneköln, together with the cities of Mülheim an der Ruhr, Düsseldorf and Cologne. The festival is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, and Kunststiftung NRW.

Funded by

Project partners

Media partners