Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf [Ausschnitt], © Sebastian Hoppe

Theatre in North Rhine-West­phalia

A jour­ney through a unique theatre land­scape

Some people might think it’s ab­surd for the theatre land­scape in Ger­many to be in­cluded in a bid for re­cog­ni­tion as a UN­ESCO World Cul­tur­al Her­it­age Site, but if you look at the var­ied nature of the theatres in North Rhine-West­phalia, it’s quickly ob­vi­ous that there is a really unique cul­tur­al treas­ure here wait­ing to be dis­covered.

Many dif­fer­ent houses, from the el­eg­ant Düs­sel­dor­fer Schaus­piel­haus theatre to the small Schlosstheat­er Mo­ers, from the highly mod­ern Theat­er Pader­born to the neo-Baroque Grillo-Theat­er in Es­sen, in­vite their audi­ences to en­joy great theatre ex­per­i­ences. The pro­grammes of the 22 pub­licly fun­ded theatres alone vary as widely as the ar­chi­tec­ture. The Dortmun­der Schaus­piel is the place to go for cel­eb­rated ex­per­i­ment­al theatre, while ma­jor pro­duc­tions can be seen in Co­logne, where­as prob­ably the most in­ter­na­tion­al stage is the Schaus­piel Bo­chum un­der Jo­han Si­mons. If it was­n't so beau­ti­ful out­side, you could spend every day in North Rhine-West­phalia be­ing moved, whisked away, or dis­turbed at the highest artist­ic level.

Along­side the lar­ger theatres, there is also space for in­di­vidu­al sig­na­tures, such as from Roberto Ciulli, who has dom­in­ated the Theat­er an der Ruhr in Mül­heim since 1980 with his ma­gic­al no­tions of depth and ab­surdity. Wheth­er the des­tin­a­tion is Mün­ster, Biele­feld, Bonn or Aachen, the level of the sev­er­al dozen per­form­ances be­ing giv­en on any night across North Rhine-West­phalia is high through­out. The theatres also share the com­mon fea­ture that they are taken ser­i­ously by their home cit­ies. Here, top­ics are taken up that move the audi­ence or are of im­port­ance in the re­gion, with au­di­owalks through ped­es­tri­an zones, theatre at al­tern­at­ive sites, some­times through ne­ces­sity, or pro­duc­tions of new plays from the Her­bert-Gröne­mey­er-re­vue in Bo­chum through to a per­spect­ive on the NSU murders in Co­logne.

The ma­jor theatre land­scape is sup­ple­men­ted by fest­ivals, from the av­ant-garde Ruhrtri­en­nale and tra­di­tion­al Ruhr­fest­spiele to the Shakespeare Fest­iv­al Neuss, from the in­de­pend­ent Im­pulse Fest­iv­al to the plays in Mül­heim where the best new ma­ter­i­al is giv­en its full due on stage. Then there are the high-pro­file pro­duc­tion sites of the in­de­pend­ent theatre scene, such as the Theat­er im Bau­turm (?Theatre in the build­ing tower") in Co­logne, the Theat­er im Pumpen­haus (?Theatre in the pump house?) in Mün­ster, and the Theat­er Rott­str. in Mün­ster. 5 or the FFT in Düs­sel­dorf

Over­whelmed by too much vari­ety? A par­tic­u­larly good in­tro­duc­tion to theatre in North Rhine-West­phalia for vis­it­ors - even for this even­ing - is offered by the Kul­turken­ner for­um and ex­tens­ive pro­gramme on the NRW Bühnen plat­form.

www.kul­turken­ner.de | www.nrw-buehnen.de