Impulse Theater Festival

Mülheim an der Ruhr, Düsseldorf and Cologne

13. - 24. Juni 2018

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 25 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 will continue to extend its role as the meeting point for the independent theatre from all German-speaking countries while simultaneously trying to generate enthusiasm for independent theatre among new audiences. The three core programmes – showcase, academy and city project – rotate each year between the three partner institutions Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, FFT Düsseldorf and studiobühneköln.  

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 five-strong Impulse jury that meets twice 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.


Haiko Pfost, Artistic Director
Wilma Renfordt, Dramaturgy
Kolja Burgschuld, Direction Academy #1 
Sandra Umathum, Direction Academy #2  

Armin Leoni, Production Management
Theresa Heußen, Production Assistant
Randi Günnemann, City project Production Management
Jascha Sommer, Academy Production Management
Kathrin Ebmeier, Academy Co-Production Management
Luzie Barzen, Production support
Jannica Hümbert, Production support
Steven Sander, Production support
Laron Janus, Production support

Tobias Fritzsche, Press/Marketing 
Susanne Niemann, Press Assistant

Editorial team
Patricia Maurer, Editor-in-Chief
Katharina Sacken, Proof-reading
David Tushingham, Translation

Technical Director
Nino Petrich

Ringlokschuppen Ruhr
Britta Lins, Artistic Administration
Zsolt Káldy, Production Management
Teresa Künstler, Production Management Künstler

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

Impulse Panel 2018

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 – for the first time – audience representatives from our Showcase partner.
Panel members for this year’s festival were the audience representatives for the Ringlokschuppen Jennifer Bartsch (chemical-technical assistant) and Stefanie Dörr (school student), the former Director of zeitraumexit and freelance curator Gabriele Osswald (scout for South Germany), the Impulse Theater Festival’s Artistic Director Haiko Pfost (scout for Austria), Impulse’s dramaturg Wilma Renfordt (scout for North Germany) and the director and curator Barbara Weber (scout for Switzerland).


Jennifer Bartsch (born in Mülheim an der Ruhr in 1996) is a chemical-technical assistant and audience panellist for the Impulse Theater Festival 2018. She has appeared as a performer in numerous productions at the Ringlokschuppen since 2010, including KGI‘s ‘Der grüne Kakadu’ and ‘Transformers’ (invited to the Favoriten Festival in Dortmund and the Performing Arts Festival in Berlin), ‘How to be we’ by Bergmann / Gilles, and ‘Untote Kuhhaut’ by Junge Performer Mülheim. She has been a member of the Board of Trustees of Ringlokschuppen Ruhr’s Circle of Friends since 2017.  

Kolja Burgschuld (born in Düsseldorf in 1985) studied Theatre, Film and Media at the University of Vienna. From 2011 to 2013 he was Managing Director of the umbrella organization for the performing arts for young audiences in Austria and curated the ASSITEJ International Meeting in Linz in 2013. He ran the STELLA Festival in St. Pölten, Bregenz and Graz and was a member of the leading team at DSCHUNGEL in Vienna. Since 2016 he has sat on the City of Vienna’s Board of Trustees for Theatre, Dance and Performance and in 2018 he will run the Impulse Academy together with Sandra Umathum.   

Stefanie Dörr (born in Straubing in 1996) is currently completing her high school diploma after practical experience as a sales assistant and is an audience panellist for the Impulse Theater Festival 2018. She has appeared as a performer in numerous productions at the Ringlokschuppen since 2010, including KGI‘s ‘Der grüne Kakadu’ and ‘Transformers’ (invited to the Favoriten Festival in Dortmund and the Performing Arts Festival in Berlin), ‘How to be we’ by Bergmann / Gilles, and ‘Untote Kuhhaut’ by Junge Performer Mülheim.  

Gabriele Osswald (born in Singen/Hohentwiel in 1952) is a visual and performance artist. She began her career in industry (working in marketing and sales) and was an active trade unionist for many years before focusing on artistic work from the beginning of the 1990s. She has participated in solo and group exhibitions since 1993 and presented performances (with Wolfgang Sautermeister and others) in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and Norway. In 2001 together with three colleagues she founded the Künstlerhaus zeitraumexit e.V. in Mannheim, which has since built up a reputation for experimental and transdisciplinary performances and other arts.  Projects the team developed together include the festival Wonder of the Prairie and showcases for emerging talents such as ‘Wilsonstraße’ and ‘frisch eingetroffen’. She worked there almost exclusively as Artistic Director and Chief Executive from 2007 to 2016. She regards her work for zeitraumexit as part of the art work that is her life. Gabriele Osswald has been a jury member for ‘Girls Go Movie’ in Mannheim and the Stuttgart Theatre Prize awarded by the State of Baden-Württemberg und collaborated on inclusive art projects with Wolfgang Sautermeister. 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 dramaturg for the festivals Theaterformen in Braunschweig and Hanover (2003–2004), steirischer herbst in Graz (2005–2006), the International Schillertagen 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 directed the opening and was curator and dramaturg for the Volkspalast, the temporary cultural programme in 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. In 2009 they were awarded the Nestroy Special Prize for best programme. From 2014 to 2017 he worked as a freelance curator, dramaturg, lecturer and consultant, including running the three year workshop and development programme ‘The Autonomous Actor’ in Finland (2015–2018). He was a panel member for bestOFFstyria, Performancepreis H13 and Hauptsache Frei and taught at A!DRAMA – Applied Dramaturgy in Music and the Performing Arts in Vienna. Haiko Pfost is Artistic Director of the Impulse Theater Festival for the three festivals from 2018 to 2020.  

Wilma Renfordt (born in 1982 and raised in the Ruhr region) studied Theatre, Art History and Literature at the Free University, Berlin, completing her degree with a thesis on theatre in urban public spaces. From 2008 to 2013 she was dramaturg of the company copy & waste, whose work (including a Doppelpass project with Ringlokschuppen Mülheim) repeatedly revolved around public space as a transactional arena for social power relations, while also working as an artistic and research assistant for Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries in Berlin from 2009 to 2013. Her other collaborations include; with Daniel Hellmann (since 2014), Kiriakos Hadjiioannou (2016), Rimini Protokoll (2016) and the theoretical and practical community Dr. Fahimi at Kottbusser Tor in Berlin (2009–2013). She has also compiled a book to accompany the exhibition ‘Wohnungsfrage’ at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin (2015) and a volume on artistic research (‘Klimakunstforschung’, Merve, 2011). 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.  

Sandra Umathum (born in Mannheim in 1969) is Professor of Theatre Studies and Dramaturgy at the University of Performing Arts Ernst Busch in Berlin. She works at the threshold of theory and practice and the intersection of various art forms. She is the author of ‘Kunst als Aufführungserfahrung’, a book about intersubjective experiences in exhibition art (2011) and co-editor of works including ‘Disabled Theater’ (2015) and ‘Postdramaturgien’ (Post-dramaturgies, 2018). Her research focuses on topics including the relations between theatre, performance and visual arts since the 1950s and contemporary approaches to dramaturgy. She has also been involved as a dramaturg in numerous productions by Christoph Schlingensief and works by Tino Sehgal; as a dramaturg she prioritizes productions by young artists working in the fields of performance and dance. For several years she has been an active member of a number of juries, including the Berlin Senate Chancellery for Cultural Affairs and the National Performance Network in Munich.  

Barbara Weber (born in Wattwil in 1975) studied Theatre Directing at the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Theatre, Music Theatre and Film from 1997 to 2001. She has been active as a theatre director since 2001 and achieved considerable early success with her ‘unplugged’ format in which she would reassess blockbusters and modern myths such as Michael Jackson, Mother Teresa or the Red Army Faction – at the Impulse Theater Festival 2005 she was awarded the Fonds Darstellende KünstePrize for ‘RAF unplugged’. She has created work at institutions including the Wiener Festwochen, HAU, Münchner Kammerspiele, Theaterhaus Gessnerallee, Theaterspektakel Zürich, Kampnagel, Kunsthalle Zürich, Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin and in 2006 the Salzburg Festival as part of the Young Directors Project. From 2000 to 2008 she was Artistic Director of the production companies stengele.ost and weber+stengele, and from 2008 to 2013 together with Rafael Sanchez Director of the Theater Neumarkt in Zürich. Since 2013 she has worked as a freelance curator, director and producer and is currently curatorial co-ordinator of the long-term festival ZH-REFORMATION.CH and project leader of  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.

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