Over the past 25 years, the Impulse Theatre Festival has become the most important international platform for the independent theatre scene in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. For the most recent edition in 2015, the organisers implemented several structural changes which ensured its viability in the future. For the first time in its history, the Impulse Theatre Festival will concentrate on and be hosted by only one city each year. From 11 to 20 June 2015 the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr in Mülheim became the centre of independent theatre, supported by its associated partners, the FFT Düsseldorf and studiobühneköln, which will alternately host the festival as central venues in subsequent years.
Impulse 2015 investigated how society plays itself, for whom it plays and who is permitted to join in the game. How can theatre today be a political, public space? The festival invited fascinating productions by independent theatre artists in the German-speaking region, and developing three site-specific projects in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Mülheim by international artists who regard theatre as a political venue of experimentation or who directly intervene in societal processes. With such productions, the festival aims to further strengthen its ties to the international scene in the future. In Mülheim/Ruhr, the Kurdish artist Ahmet Öğüt has launched a long-term project titled Silent University Ruhr – an autonomous platform of knowledge transfer between refugees and asylum seekers, migrants and non-migrants.
The Dutch theatre artist Lotte van den Berg presented the project “Building Conversation” at the theatre FFT Düsseldorf which revealed what’s left when all superfluous elements are stripped away: a conversation with explicitly defined game rules. Together with students from Cologne and Ramallah, the British artist and filmmaker Phil Collins created mobile spaces of discourse in the project “Our Position Vanishes”. Two charming old busses from yesteryear were used as shuttles between the partner theatres in Cologne and Düsseldorf and the festival centre in Mülheim/Ruhr. Inside, festival goers encountered collective spaces of experience in which geographies and sounds, political theories and concrete actions overlapped.
Impulse 2015 explored the agonistic potential of theatre in which opposing social and political views can be openly expressed. These reflections were the brainchild of the political scholar Chantal Mouffe who accompanied the events as a kind of festival philosopher. The theoretical underpinnings of the festival were provided by a conference, lectures, inputs, etc. by Armen Avanessian, Boris Buden, Oliver Marchart, Chantal Mouffe, Gerald Raunig, Vassilis Tsianos, Tirdad Zolghadr. A collection of material is available online which addresses and encourages discussion on specific issues related to the independent theatre scene.
Artistic director: Florian Malzacher
Artists: Lotte van den Berg (NL), Silent University (TR), class of Phil Collins (GB) and others