30 years of HELIOS Theater

The HELIOS Theater – founded in Cologne in 1989.

As an independent theatre company, it creates special artistic and aesthetic work for young audiences. The starting points are topics, stories, materials, narrations. Barbara Kölling as director Michael Lurse as performer have co-founded the company and continously and consistently elaborated ever since, artistically and structurally. With an own, open perspective on the world, questioning, researching, seeking - and from there on, forming.

We celebrate 30 years of HELIOS Theater with a big - well, celebration. 30 years are a long time…!

We invite our companions to come over, bring little contributions to the anniversary, share moments of and views on the past together and enjoy this very moment together, which will be followed by the future.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, from 4:00 pm

Theatre Award of the Federal Republic of Germany for HELIOS Theater!

HELIOS Theater has received the Theatre Award of the Federal Republic of Germany! The news got to us while WOODBEAT was on tour in Denmark and the europefiction group Hamm was visiting its partner group in Hungary.

The jury installed by the federal cultural minister Monika Grütters pays tribute to eleven small and medium-sized theatres throughout Germany for outstanding activities, both in their artistic programme and in their local, regional and international cultural projects. The award ceremony took place in Gera on May 27th. We are very proud and happy about this important award!


Premiere: "The Elephant in the Dark House" (WT)

Our new production will premier in March: Under the working title "The Elephant in the Dark House" the actors Bahar Sadafi, Mamadoo Mehrnejad and director Barbara Kölling are rehearsing for a sensuous adaption of the old persian tale using figures, objects, light and shadow. The premiere will be Sunday, 8th March at 4pm, for everbody age 6 and above. More performance dates are in March and May. More informations about the play can be found here. See all dates for 2020 here.

hellwach: International Theatre Festival in November!

From 14th-22nd November 2020 the internatinal theatre festival for young audiences "hellwach" takes place in the hellweg region! Theatregroups from europe and other continents will present their newest productions in different venues throughout 5 cities. The "hellwach" 2020 programm will be published in the summer. More informations can be found here.

New production for young people: Between the Chairs

This is my place. This place is occupied. I have occupied this place. I have taken place here. This place is mine. This place is my property. I own it. Now, I own three. I need more space than others. 

The HELIOS Theater has produced a new play: With  „Between the Chairs“, the ensemble addresses young people 13+. Directed by Barbara Kölling and with text by Steffen Moor, the performers Marko Werner and Mamadoo Mehrnejad deal with topics like freedom, equality, invitation and arrival. In a stage with lots of chairs these topics become abstract and concrete at the same time.

"CIRCLES" invited to Imaginale 2020!

The latest production for everybody 2+, CIRCLES, has been invited to the international festival for animated theatre forms, Imaginale 2020. The network of theatres in the South of Germany has chosen the performance.

Michael Lurse and Marko Werner have developed the performance together. On stage, they create circles as a movement in the space and as traces on the floor. They invite their audience to muse on the origin of the world, the beginning of life."CIRCLES" is a theatre meditation on the big questions for 60 spectators, two performers, a stone, a bucket of sand and puppets with music by Jan Leschinski.

More information about the production can be found here. You can find all the performance dates in Hamm here.

Music theatre for children

In September, HELIOS Theater has celebrated the premiere of a new play for everbody 5+: "Who Awoke the Wind". Three musicians and two puppeteers tell the Latvian myth about how the wind disappeared - and how a little, inconsiderable animal found it again. Animal puppets, a special stage setting and modern compositions for clarinet, percussion and voice create a very special atmosphere.

The play is a contribution to the current discussion about a contemporary music theatre for children. For more information about "Who Awoke the Wind", click here. For the coming performance dates, click here.

A big research project has started!

Since 2006, HELIOS Theater has been an active partner in the EU-funded „small size“ projects. The projects were dedicated to the international exchange about and development of performing art for audiences aged 0 to 6.Now, the projects are finished.

In August, the European Union has accepted a new project: 19 theatres and festivals from 17 different countries are part of "MAPPING" (2018-2022). The focus is set on artistic exchange and scientific research about several theatrical means of expression in the theatre for the very young. We are thrilled to be a part of this project! You can find more information about "MAPPING" and our work for the very young here.

International Exchange

Workshop in Nigeria

In October 2019, Barbara Kölling was invited to Lagos to give a workshop for theatre makers from all over Nigeria. The impulse for the project came from Joshua Alabi, who had met Barbara Kölling in an intensive international mentoring project at Magnet Theatre in Cape Town (South Africa). Goethe Institut Lagos realized the workshop programme organizationally and financially.

13 young theatre makers participated in the one week workshop, who work with and for children in different contexts. Starting from the exploration of materials like paper, sand and wool, they created different theatre approaches for children during the week. They discussed topics, ways of working and theatre forms and built a network for future exchange and collaborations.

„WOODBEAT“ on tour in China

In autumn 2018, „WOODBEAT“ was invited to China. From October 18th to November 4th, the performance for the very young played 30 shows at Art Space for Kids (A.S.K.) in Shanghai. There were also be workshops about different aspects of the theatre for early years.

The interest in this theatre form is huge – as well as the demand for art for little children. The HELIOS Theater ensemble enjoyed this first step in the encounter and exchange with the colleagues and the audiences in China.

"hellwach" – theatre for everybody!

"hellwach", the 8th international theatre festival "hellwach" took place from June 3rd-10th, 2018. In six towns of the Hellweg region, seven companies from Europe, Asia and Africa presented extraordinary productions for children, young people and adults, starting from the very young.

The HELIOS Theater in the Kulturbahnhof Hamm was the festival centre: a place for the exchange between the international artists and the audience. In addition to the performances, talks were held that gave background to the shows and dealt with questions of a modern, international theatre for young audiences, including the very young, in India, South Africa and Europe.

The programme is still online here: enjoy browsing through the "hellwach" pages!

Intensive exchange with artists in India, Nigeria and South Africa

The approach of "material theatre" that director Barbara Kölling and puppeteer Michael Lurse have developed since 2005 has received a lot of interest around the world. In 2015, Barbara Kölling started giving workshops for professional artists about the theatre for the very young with materials.

Theatre makers from India and South Africa have initiated intensive workshop programmes: Jennie Reznek (Cape Town) has implemented theatre for early years in the Magnet Theatre's training programme for young performers since 2015. She also started an exchange between artists from South Africa and other African countries. With the experience from one of these exchange projects, Joshua Alabi (Lagos) invited Barbara Kölling for a workshop on professional theatre for young audiences to Nigeria in autumn 2019. Building up on a master class in 2015, Anurupa Roy from Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust (Delhi) organized a 7 weeks intensive mentoring programm for theatre makers from different fields in 2017/18.

From these programmes, about 20 theatre productions for children aged 2+ have evolved. They are artistically dealing with materials like paper, clay, wool, stones, wood and plastic in a wide variety of ways. The performances have played and are playing in their respective cities, are invited to national festivals and tour internationally. Some of the participants have started their own theatre festivals, focussing especially on the theatre for the youngest audiences.

For the HELIOS Theater, these workshops mean an intensive and fruitful exchange with theatre artists from India and African countries and their artistic approaches.


Book: "About the Work of HELIOS Theater"

To the 25th anniversary of the founding of HELIOS Theaters, a book on the history and work of the company was published in 2014. The book is a collection of thoughts by current and former members of the ensemble photos and interviews, thoughts on the concept, detailed examinations of the productions for the Very Young. Publisher is "Kunststiftung NRW", an important foundation for the arts in Northrhine Westfalia, which celebtrated its 25th anniversary in the same year. The book can be ordered in the theatre office of HELIOS Theater.


Film: „Woolgathering“

The short documentary follows the ensemble of HELIOS Theater in its research on the material wool. It develops its own, videographic view on the material. The focus is not on the making of the production, but rather on the relation between material, artists and audience. In the making of the production "Follow the Yarn" for everybody 2+, the HELIOS ensemble was accompanied by two young film makers of Ruhruniversität Bochum: Stoyan Radoslavov and Damian W. Gorczany.

You can order the film in the theatre office.