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.
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.
Haiko Pfost, Artistic Director
Wilma Renfordt, Dramaturg
Armin Leoni, Production Management
Theresa Heußen, Production Assistant
Sina Langner, Press/Marketing
Patricia Maurer, Editor-in-chief
Katharina Sacken, Proof-reading
David Tushingham, Translation
Dr. Christian Esch, Director
Christina Schröder, Administrative Manager
Martin Maruschka, Press
Impulse Panel 2020
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 a representative of the audience of the SHOWCASE-partner:
Gin Müller, Scout Austria
Alexander Olchawa, representative of the audience, studiobühneköln
Gabriele Oßwald, Scout Southern Germany
Haiko Pfost, Artistic Director Impulse Theater Festival and Scout cross-regional
Wilma Renfordt, Dramaturg Impulse Theater Festival and Scout Northern Germany
Barbara Weber, Scout Switzerland
Gin Müller is a dramaturg and ar/ctivist focussing on theatre / performance / queer studies. He lectures at the Institute of Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna and is currently a visiting professor at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. His own theatre and performance works at brut Vienna and in Mexico City include ‘FantomasMonster’, ‘TransGenderMoves’ and ‘Melodrom/Rebelodrom — NoborderZone’. He was a co-founder of VolxTheater-Karawane and the band SV Damenkraft. From 2012 to 2013 he was active in the Refugee Protest Vienna, and since 2014 he has been engaged in Queer Base, the Rosa Lila Villa‘s LGBTIQ welcome and support project in Vienna. He published the book ‘Possen des Performativen. Theater, Aktivismus und queere Politiken’ in 2008.
Alexander Olchawa (CV in German only) ist gelernter Veranstaltungskaufmann und hat Medienkulturwissenschaften und Philosophie an der Universität zu Köln studiert. Zwischen 2011 und 2014 war er Betreiber eines Kulturcafés in Trier und veranstaltete in diesem Rahmen diverse Kleinkunstabende und Lesereihen. Heute arbeitet Olchawa freiberuflich als Veranstaltungstechniker in NRW, u.a. für die studiobühneköln, das Theater im Ballsaal Bonn und die Akademie der Künste der Welt.
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 Hanover, 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 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.