After the festival is before the festival!

11 July 2013

On July 6 the Impulse Theater Biennale 2013 celebrated a roaring close to the festival in the double Chez Icke in Bochum and Düsseldorf.

The roughly 60 events in this year’s festival were well received by a broad audience, with attendance topping at over 7000 spectators. The theater productions were attended to 80 percent capacity. And that’s not including the program of live criticism, concerts, discussions, etc. that took place at Gesine Danckwart’s “Chez Icke,” a festival center that created a link, both real and virtual, between all four of the Impulse cities.

One of the most important new developments of this festival was the shift away from the competitive character in favor of a thematically curated festival, which placed the works in relation to one another. Under the title “Under the Influence” there were 14 productions to be seen, including, for the first time, premieres, co-productions, and commissioned works created especially for the festival. By taking such artistic risks, the Impulse Theater Biennial is underscoring its conception of itself as a lobbyist and platform for the independent theater, and is taking account of the changes in the independent scene over the last few years – also as a sign of our support for independent artistic works in these difficult times for cultural politics.

In particular, the commissioned work by the Berlin-based Israeli visual artist, Yael Bartana, “Two Minutes of Standstill,” caused quite a sensation. On June 28 at 11 a.m., she invited all the inhabitants of Cologne to symbolically interrupt their everyday lives for two minutes and – borrowing from the Israeli holiday that commemorates the victims and resistance fighters of the Holocaust – not only to reflect on the past, but also on the present and the future. Cologne’s governing mayor Jürgen Roters took the project under his wing, which had many local, but also national and international supporters. In addition, the action was promoted by Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (RNV), which stopped all local public transportation in the metropolitan region of Rhein-Neckar for a memorable moment. The 1. FC Köln interrupted training, and the University of Cologne also called for standstill.
The project, which was sponsored by the Academy of the Arts of the World, was hotly debated and raised a certain amount of controversy – the question of how and under what conditions one can actively commemorate has surely not yet been conclusively answered, nor has the project been fully appraised.

Within the framework of the festival, and at its invitation, July 6 also marked the inauguration of a video archive of independent theater. At the initial discussion, participants included various artists and scholars of theater studies, but also the Goethe Institut, the Bundesverband Freier Theater, and the mime centrum. As a result, a working group has been formed that will be coordinated by the Bundesverband Freier Theater as well as the NRW KULTURsekretariat.

But this new initiative is not the only way that Impulse is realizing its function as a platform for independent theater between the festivals. A collection of texts on the independent scene has been established at the website as the publication in progress, and this project will be continued.

And the next Impulse festival is coming in June 2015!