2 – 13 June 2021 in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Mülheim an der Ruhr + Online

Academy #2 – Lost in space?

Theatrical Community, Protest and International Collaboration in a Disembodied Age
10.–12.06., Conference programme online via Zoom, Workshops in various locations
Language: English

The pandemic has hit theatres hard all over the world. Places that were built for bodies to gather and share meaningful experiences together have spent most of the last year empty. The Impulse Academy takes a closer look at this situation. What is lost when performances and working processes take place in the digital space? And what is gained?

The three days of the ACADEMY will take place in a hybrid format, both online and in person in Düsseldorf and Cologne, Berne, Johannesburg and Minsk:

The lectures and discussions in the mornings will focus on the role of the body in creating communities, political protest and international collaboration. These will take place online via Zoom.

In a workshop held over multiple afternoons, participants will explore the art of touching, smell, intimacy and vulnerability. The workshop will take place in person in Düsseldorf.

10.06. Bodies and Communities

from 10:00–13:00 h, online (Zoom + live stream)
Please register if you want to take part via Zoom.
Link to the live stream (no registration necessary)

How important is physical togetherness to the theatrical experience and what do we lose when the audience is sitting at home watching on a laptop or mobile phone? How has our perception of intimacy and touch changed in times of physical distance?

10:00 Welcome

10:10 Bodies in solidarity
Keynote and discussion: Mazda Adli, Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Charité Hospital, Berlin. Chaired by: Eva Neklyaeva
In his keynote speech the psychiatrist Mazda Adli shows why theatre has an existential importance as a place of assembly: collective emotional and cognitive experience makes a significant contribution to overcoming everyday stress and mental well-being, creates solidarity between people, thereby reinforcing social cohesion within society. In short: theatre keeps our souls healthy. But what role does the body play here? Do these effects occur when we are gathering in front of screens?

11:00 Stacie CC Graham: 15 minutes of mindfulness
Adviser and yogini Stacie CC Graham helps the audience to focus attention on their own bodies through short exercises.

11:15 Intimacy at a distance
Samara Hersch and Damian Rebgetz, input and discussion. Chaired by: Eva Neklyaeva
In their artistic practice, the director Samara Hersch and the actor and performer Damian Rebgetz intensively explore voice and sound as well as intimacy and distance. Both sets of themes have attracted increased attention as a result of Covid- 19. Samara and Damian recount their personal and artistic experiences. Samara Hersch is also represented in the Impulse SHOWCASE with the interactive online performance BODY OF KNOWLEDGE (AT HOME).

12:00 h a p t i c a f f i n i t i e s – a study group on touch, haptic aesthetics and intimacy in the arts
Breakout rooms with:
Joshua Wicke
Antonia Rohwetter
Carolina Mendonca
Bryana Fritz und Henry Andersen
Sofie Luckhardt, Anneliese Ostertag and Rahel Spöhrer
Siegmar Zacharias
Anna Zett

In conversations and exercises in an informal and participatory setting, participants are invited to explore the desire for and loss of intimacy together with the ambivalence and reciprocity of touch. The hosts are practitioners from the fields of art and theory who are working on the theme of touch and intimacy in the arts.

11.06. Bodies and Political Protest

from 10:00–13:00 h, online (Zoom + live stream)
Please register if you want to take part via Zoom.
Link to the live stream (no registration necessary)

How important is the visibility and vulnerability of the body to the effectiveness of political protest movements? What influence has COVID-19 had on this?

10:00 Dance in Protest
Keynote and discussion: Kirsten Maar, Free University Berlin, Institute of Theatre Studies. Chaired by: Irina Bârcă
What potential do choreographic interventions have for protest movements in the age of the pandemic – whether in the context of Black Lives Matter, in Belarus, Poland or Hungary? In her keynote speech, Kirsten Maar will demonstrate choreography’s inherent potential to create a public sphere through assembly and intervention. Resilient and enduring bodies rehearse collectivity together by using the emancipatory potential of reciprocal touching.

10:45 Stacie CC Graham: 15 minutes of mindfulness
Adviser and yogini Stacie CC Graham helps the audience to focus attention on their own bodies through short exercises.

11:00 Appelation, Ideology and the Weird
Joana Tischkau and Julian Warner, inputs and discussion Chaired by: Irina Bârcă
Joana Tischkau talks about visualising BLM protests in the last year. How were the resistant bodies staged in the media and which images are left over in the end? In his input, ‘The Discourse That Made Me’, Julian Warner appeals to us to rid ourselves of the false consciousness of a neoliberal diversity paradigm: “Instead of succumbing to analogies of African-American suffering, we must endeavour to create our own archaeologies in order to produce knowledge of specific oppressions. We will need our material bodies and a sense of the weird and the eerie in order to break free from the appellations of platform capitalism.”
Both artists are also represented in the Impulse SHOWCASE: Joana Tischkau with PLAYBLACK and Julian Warner with THE HISTORY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY AS TOLD BY FEHLER KUTI UND DIE POLIZEI.

12:00 “It’s all so bad, even complete introverts go out.*
Discussion in co-operation with the Goethe Institut Belarus with Mikhail Gulin, Sophia Sadovskaya, Igor Shugaleev. Chaired by: Tania Arcimovich
Artists and activists from Belarus describe the role of the body in the public sphere as part of the protest movement. Which strategies were used and what effect did the pandemic have on these? What were the consequences for the cultural scene and the performing arts in particular?
*Placard slogan during the protests in Minsk in August 2020

12.06. Bodies and International Collaboration

from 10:00–13:00 h, online (Zoom + live stream)
Please register if you want to take part via Zoom.
Link to the live stream (no registration necessary)

How important are physical meetings to collective creative processes and developing good working relationships? To what extent can we replace them with online tools? And what does this mean for the future of a climate friendly, decolonial international collaboration?

10:00 Disembodied collaboration in creative processes – where does even the best digital tool reach its limits? Findings in media psychology after a year with Covid-19
Keynote and discussion: Maren Urner, HMKW, University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Management, Cologne. Chaired by: Marta Keil
From one day to the other, the pandemic forced us to move our private, professional and cultural communication to the digital world. What are the risks, what the chances of "online lectures,” ”onlne meetings” and ”online gatherings”? What do we miss and what do we gain? How does it affect our well-being?

10:45 Stacie CC Graham: 15 minutes of mindfulness
Adviser and yogini Stacie CC Graham helps the audience to focus attention on their own bodies through short exercises.

11:00 Travelling for Art
Ant Hampton and Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez (Lagartijas tiradas al sol, Mexico), inputs and discussion. Chaired by: Marta Keil
Ant Hampton is currently working on the project ‘Showing Without Going – live performance options without air travel’. Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez has responded with an open letter to Jerôme Bel’s call to refrain from the use of air travel in the performing arts. Both performance artists discuss the necessity of travel, talk about privileges and the luxury of abstention as well as about how their views have changed as a consequence of Covid-19.

12:00 Disembodied co-operations
Jayachandran Palazhy (Attakkalari Center for Movement Arts, Bangalore) and Clara Vaughan (Market Theatre Laboratory, Johannesburg), inputs and discussion. Chaired by: Ogutu Muraya
Jayachandran Palazhy, Artistic Director of the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts in Bangalore, and the Head of the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg, Clara Vaughan, talk about their experiences of rehearsal, performances and co-operation projects in the last year. What positive effects might there have been, but also where did the challenges lie – both locally and in an international context?

12:45 Conclusions

10.–12.06. Exercises in Social Intimacy. An international workshop on the art of touching and other forbidden pleasures

from 14:30–17:30 h each day, Düsseldorf in person
By registration only (for further information see below)

Hosts: Sibylle Peters with Charlotte Pfeifer and Ansuman Biswas, and guest Moritz Frischkorn
Working language: English

What it means to be alone and what it means to be connected have changed because of the pandemic. Coronavirus is a shared problem that keeps us apart from each other. But the safety of isolation is accompanied by its own dangers: if our bodies cannot smell and touch other bodies, our stress levels remain high. Fear and depression take the place of shared vulnerability. Hedges of thorns start springing up around our castles. At the same time digital gatherings have replaced real get-togethers and connected people with each other – even globally – in new ways. Against this background, theatre and performance appear in a new light: as arts of intimacy that bring people close to each other and invite them to communicate and share their vulnerabilities.

EXERCISES IN SOCIAL INTIMACY will bring together 90 participants locally and globally, physically and digitally. Groups in Düsseldorf and Cologne, Bangalore, Berne, Johannesburg and Minsk will meet while each observing the public health regulations that apply in their location and conduct exchanges through video conferencing. They will explore the art of touching, smell and intimacy and experiment with the relationship between intimacy and distance.

“Pleasure Activism is called for in order to rediscover trust between bodies. Let us be the Princess who forces her way through the hedge of thorns and kisses Sleeping Beauty awake!” Sibylle Peters

It is only possible to take part in the workshop locally.
To participate in the workshop group in Düsseldorf you can register at email hidden; JavaScript is required. No particular previous experience is required. The cost of the workshop for three afternoons including catering is 30 Euro.
The workshop will take place in compliance with the public health regulations in force at the time. Participants agree to take a rapid Covid test each day that will be organized by the producers.

International co-hosts:
Bern University of the Arts, Theatre Division (Switzerland)
The Market Theatre Laboratory, Johannesburg (South Africa)
Universität zu Köln, Institut für Kunst & Kunsttheorie
Goethe Institut Belarus


Mazda Adli is a psychiatrist and stress researcher. He runs the Fliedner Klinik in Berlin and the research group into affective disorders at Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin. He founded the Interdisciplinary Forum on Neuro-Urbanism that examines the influence of city living on emotions and mental health and is the founder of the “Singing Shrinks”, the world’s only choir of psychiatrists. His book ‘Stress and the City: Why cities make us ill and why they are still good for us’ was published in 2017.

Tania Arcimovich is a writer, director and curator from Minsk. She graduated in Theatre Studies from the Belarus State Academy of the Arts in Minsk and has a Master’s in Cultural Studies from the European Humanities University in Vilnius. Since 2014, Tania Arcimovich has curated exhibitions, and produced a range of cultural and educational projects with institutions including the Gallery for Contemporary Art, Lohvinau publishing house, Minsk Photography Month and the TEART theatre festival. She taught at the European College of Liberal Arts in Belarus from 2016 to 2019. She is a co-founder of the ziErnie Performative Arts Platform and editor of the magazine pARTisan / pARTisanka. She is currently studying for a doctorate at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) at the Justus-Liebig University in Gießen.

Irina Bârcă is the Dramaturg at the FFT Düsseldorf with responsibility for children’s and youth theatre. Born and raised in Sibiu, Romania, she studied Acting in Bucharest and Theatre as Education at the University of Applied Sciences Osnabrück. From 2014 – 2017 she was Education Officer at the Theater an der Parkaue. She devises, produces and curates theatre projects principally for and with children and young people. At the FFT her work includes evolving formats in which theatres, schools and artists to encounter and co-operate with each other and theatre by digital natives. She is a member of numerous juries, the curatorial board of the Fonds Darstellende Künste and also curated the festival Augenblick mal! 2021.

Ansuman Biswas was born in India and trained in the UK. He has an international practice encompassing music, film, live art, installation, writing and theatre. He is interested in hybridity and interdisciplinarity – often working between science, art and industry, for instance, or between music, dance and visual art. Improvisation and play are key elements of his practice and at its core is the discipline of vipassana meditation.

Moritz Frischkorn has worked in the field of contemporary performing arts as a choreographer, performer and theoretician since 2014. His artistic and curatorial practice addresses choreographies of things and their social and political dimensions. In 2021 he was awarded his Doctorate at HafenCity University Hamburg for a thesis on the topic of “More-than-human Choreographies”. In recent years he has presented a series of his own works. His interdisciplinary research project ‘The Great Report’ on the relationship between choreography and logistics was premiered at Kampnagel in 2020.

Stacie CC Graham is a management consultant, executive coach, founder, speaker and writer. In her work, she uses practices and tools such as mindful leadership, intersectional attunement as well as emotional and social intelligence. Her holistic wellness brand, OYA: Body-Mind-Spirit Retreats, is dedicated to underrepresented communities typically underserved by the mainstream wellness industry. With an MS in economics and a PhD in psychology as well as experience living and working in different parts of the world, she continues to cultivate a nuanced understanding of underlying drivers of human motivation and behaviour.

Mikhail Gulin is an artist and curator. Since the 2000s, he has been one of the most influencing Belarusian artists making artistic interventions in public, focusing on how the public sphere works in Belarus. His artworks have been presented in galleries in Minsk, Brest, Eindhoven, Vilnius, Moscow, Warsaw, Kiev and other cities. Gulin participated in artistic symposiums and performance festivals in Lithuania, North Ossetia-Alania and Kazakhstan.

Ant Hampton is a performance artist. His works are characterised by a clear tension between strictly formal and structural elements and other elements that are lived and negotiated in the moment of performance. He has developed small-scale, intimate projects that involve members of the audience themselves and take place in cafés (‘Etiquette’) or libraries (‘The Quiet Volume’). His recent works encourage the public to take risks with genuine consequences (‘Someone Else’, ‘The Thing’).

The political and ethical implications of touch have come to the foreground within our current intensified experience of both the loss and the dangers of personal contact. Intimacies are both given and chosen that elude our control. Here touch manifests itself as the fundamental requirement of a vulnerable existence. It is a feature of reciprocal dependencies, porous physical boundaries, brutal intimacies and cross-species collaborations. The study group h a p t i c a f f i n i t i e s was initiated by Anneliese Ostertag, Sofie Luckhardt, Belle Santos and Rahel Spöhrer, meeting every week since the middle of April against this background to ask: what forms of touch take place in the performative arts that are noticed and unnoticed? How can we address the performativity and mediality of touch? And how can the manifold haptic encounters in the arts be understood on a consensual basis?

Samara Hersch is a theatre-maker, director and artist whose practice explores the intersections of contemporary performance and social engagement. She recently completed her Masters degree at Das Theatre in Amsterdam. She has a particular interest in cross-generational discourse and non-hierarchical forms of exchanging knowledge. Her work WE ALL KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING, created with Lara Thoms and seven children from Melbourne, won the ZKB Encouragement Award and the Audience Prize at the Zürcher Theater Spektakel 2019 as well as the Green Room Award for the best contemporary and experimental performance in Melbourne.

Marta Keil is a performing arts curator, dramaturg and researcher. She focuses her curatorial and research practice on possible alternative processes of instituting and on redefining modes of working transnationally. Since 2019 she co-runs Performing Arts Institute in Warsaw, an independent organisation that aims at developing the independent performing arts field in Poland. Since 2019 she cooperates as a facilitator with the RESHAPE project that proposes instruments for transition towards an alternative, fairer, and unified arts ecosystem across Europe and the Southern Mediterranean.

Kirsten Maar has been Junior Professor for Dance Studies at the Free University Berlin since 2018 and works as a dramaturg. Her research focusses on choreographic practices in the 20th century, the removal of boundaries between choreography, architecture and the visual arts as well as intersectional discourses and canonical issues.

Ogutu Muraya is a writer and theater maker whose work is embedded in the practice of Orature. In his work, he searches for new forms of storytelling where socio-political aspects merge with the belief that art is an important catalyst for questioning certainties. He studied International Relations at USIU-Africa and graduated in 2016 with a Master in Arts at DAS Theatre. His texts have been published internationally. His performative works and storytelling have been featured in theatres and festivals around the globe. Ogutu is based in Nairobi where he continues his artistic practice and also teaches part time at the department of film and performing arts at KCA University.

Eva Neklyaeva is a curator concerned with the questions of freedom and is exploring these questions across performing art, politics and sexuality. At the moment, she is co-curating Samara Editions – performances by post; as well as Spielart Festival 2021. Previously, she has, amongst others, curated Santarcangelo Festival (2017–2019), and was Director of Baltic Circle International Contemporary Theatre Festival for six years. Under her leadership, the festival became an acclaimed international platform and laboratory for emerging multidisciplinary performance.

Jayachandran Palazhy is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts in Bangalore and an internationally sought-after dancer and choreographer. He graduated in Physics from Kerala and then started his training started in India with Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Indian folk dances and the martial art form of Kalarippayattu. He also trained at the London Contemporary Dance School and studied Classical Ballet, Tai Chi, Capoeira and African Dance. He collaborated with international artists on multimedia dance productions involving digital arts and interactive technology. At Attakkalari he has directed the research and documentation project “NAGARIKA” – on the movement principles of Indian physical traditions. He has also worked on the “Role of Interactive Technology and Telematics in Performance” as part of a collaborative project at the Arizona State University.

Sibylle Peters is a performance artist and cultural scientist. She is also the Artistic Director of FUNDUS THEATER/THEATRE OF RESEARCH in Hamburg and co-founder of the doctoral research programme Performing Citizenship. She often collaborates with the performance collective geheimagentur. Her most recent projects include QUEENS. THE HETERACLUB, which was selected for the Impulse SHOWCASE 2021.

Charlotte Pfeifer is interested in extending the stage situation in an interplay of art, music, audio drama and performance. She began work as an actor and subsequently became a dramaturg and director. She now amalgamates various roles for projects on everyday topics, science fiction and rubbish and likes to devise these as part of a group. PMS-LOUNGE – HULDIGUNG EINES ZUSTANDS(PMS-LOUNGE – TRIBUTE TO A CONDITION) won the Audience Prize and the Jury Prize at the Hauptsache Frei Festival in 2018. Pfeifer produces self-devised children’s plays and happenings with the interdisciplianry group of artists TRAUMMASCHiNE Inc.

Damian Rebgetz studied classical voice, music theatre and has an MA in Sound Studies. He has performed in various theatre, music theatre, dance and performance contexts and was a member of the acting ensemble of Münchner Kammerspiele 2015–2020. His own performances are inspired by listening practices and memory as well as notions of music, noise, voice, sound, identity and materiality. In 2013, his performance “Something for the Fans” was coproduced by Impulse Theater Festival and HAU Hebbel am Ufer.

Lázaro Gabino Rodriguez holds a master degree in theater from the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten (AHK). His work consists in explorations around notions of true and false, emerging from personal memories and their relation to fiction. In 2003 he founded with Luisa Pardo Lagartijas tiradas al sol, an artists collective dedicated to contemporary creation, with which they have developed projects that take their final form as theater pieces, texts, films, pedagogical processes and radio productions. Their work has been presented all across México and internationally.

Sophia Sadovskaya is an independent curator and art educator from Minsk. From 2012–2021, she curated the “EVAA project” (Environmental Visual Audial Art Project) which combines environmental activism and contemporary art practices. Additionally to her curatorial projects, Sadovskaya is the co-author of a series of books, “The Art of Belarus of the 20th century for kids”.

Igor Shugaleev is an independent actor and performer. He collaborated with TOKtheatre in Minsk and HUNCHTheatre Belarus. In 2019, Igor began to work on solo projects. Cooperating with artists across creative disciplines, he searches for his artistic language at the intersection of dance, theatre and performance.

Joana Tischkau dances. One of her first memories is of dancing to Kaoma’s 1989 hit ‘Lambada’ at a children’s birthday party. This motivated her to register for lessons in jazz dance, street dance and videoclip dancing at the dance school next door. She subsequently studied Dance and Acting at Coventry University in Great Britain and Choreography and Performance at the Institute of Applied Theatre Studies in Gießen. Her artistic practice is a hybrid mess where the writings of bel hooks meet beatboxing, where a fitness workout can be produced based on white movement material and Roberto Blanco is worshipped as the king of Black German entertainment. PLAYBLACK is the graduation production for her Master’s degree.

Maren Urner is Professor of Media Psychology at the HMKW University of Applied Sciences for Media, Communication and Management in Cologne. She has studied Cognitive Science and Neuroscience and took her Doctorate in Neuroscience at University College London. She founded the online magazine ‘Perspective Daily’ for constructive journalism in 2016 and was its editor until March 2019. Her first book ‘Schluss mit dem täglichen Weltuntergang’ was a bestseller and her second, ‘Raus aus der ewigen Dauerkrise’, will be published in 2021.

Clara Vaughan is the Head of the Market Theatre Laboratory in Johannesburg, South Africa, and a theatre-maker, arts facilitator, arts manager, and writer. At the Market Lab she brings together diverse theatre-practitioners and other artists to collaborate in various learning/making/experimenting/researching processes, with an emphasis on emerging artists, and subaltern experiences, voices and identities.

Julian Warner works as a cultural anthropolgist in the fields of curating, music, performance art and research. He is Artistic Director of the Festival der Kulturregion Stuttgart 2022 and curator of the Spielart festival in Munich. Under the alias Fehler Kuti he also releases discursive pop. Warner has worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Göttingen. The anthology he has edited AFTER EUROPE – Beiträge zur dekolonialen Kritik is published by Verbrecher Verlag in April 2021.

© Ansuman Biswas, Sibylle Peters
© Ansuman Biswas, Sibylle Peters
© Ansuman Biswas, Sibylle Peters

Direction ACADEMY #2: Anne Schulz
Direction Workshop: Sibylle Peters
Production Management: Lena Busse

The ACADEMY #2 – LOST IN SPACE? is funded by the Goethe Institut and the International Visitors Programme of the NRW KULTURsekretariat.