The Impulse Theatre Festival has been the leading platform for independent theatre in the German-speaking countries for 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.
Artistic Director for the festivals from 2018 to 2020 — and since his re-appointment for three further festivals until 2023 — is the curator, dramaturg and theatre researcher 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 studiobühneköln, FFT Düsseldorf 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
Melissa Müller, Assistant to the Artistic Director
Wilma Renfordt, Dramaturg
Daniel Richter, Direction ACADEMY #1
Anne Schulz, Direction ACADEMY #2
Armin Leoni, Production Management
Theresa Heußen, Assistant to the Production Manager
Susanne Berthold, Production Manager ACADEMY #1
Lena Busse, Production Manager ACADEMY #2
Sina Langner, Press/Marketing
Patricia Maurer, Editor-in-chief
Katharina Sacken, Proof-reading
David Tushingham, Translation
Dr. Christian Esch, Director
Christiana van Osenbrüggen, Administrative Manager
Martin Maruschka, Press
Impulse Panel 2020-2021
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 Olachawa is a qualified events manager and studied Media and Cultural Studies and Philosophy at the University of Cologne. From 2011 to 2014 he ran a cultural café in Trier where he presented numerous cabaret evenings and series of readings. Now he works as a freelance events technician in North Rhine-Westphalia for organisations including studiobühneköln, the Theater im Ballsaal Bonn and the Akademie der Künste der Welt in Cologne.
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 (born in the Black Forest in 1972) 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 (2003-2004), steirischer herbst in Graz (2005-2006), the International Schillertage in Mannheim (2007 and 2009) and was a member of the selection panel for the Festival Politik im Freien Theater in 2010/2011. In 2004/2005 he was director of the opening ceremony, curator and dramaturg of the Volkspalast, the temporary cultural repurposing of the Palast der Republik in Berlin. 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, for example heading the three-year workshop and development programme ‘The Autonomous Actor’ in Finland (2015-2018). He is a member of the City of Munich’s panel for independent theatremakers, the Berlin panel for funding festivals and series across disciplines and the City of Vienna’s panel for concept funding for independent companies. Haiko Pfost is Artistic Director of the Impulse Theater Festival and a member of its programming panel for the festival editions from 2018 to 2023.
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.
The Impulse Theater Festival is organised by the NRW KULTURsekretariat in cooperation with the studiobühneköln, the FFT Düsseldorf and the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr as well as the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mülheim an der Ruhr.
The festival is supported by the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and the Kunststiftung NRW.
with the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mülheim an der Ruhr.
Funding for projects and guest performances by
ACADEMY #1 – MAKING HISTORY is held in co-operation with the Initiative für die Archive des Freien Theates e.V., the NRW KULTURsekretariat and the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.
ACADEMY #2 – THEATRICAL COMMUNITIES, PROTEST AND INTERNATIONAL COLLABORATION IN A DISEMBODIED TIME is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (Regional Cultural Policy NRW) and Pro Helvetia, the
Swiss arts council.
The CITY PROJECT is a co-production between Club Real, Ringlokschuppen Ruhr and the Impulse Theater Festival in co-operation with Eigentum verpflichtet e.V., funded by Kunststiftung NRW, Fonds Darstellende Künste and Fonds Soziokultur.