Theatre for Young Audiences

HELIOS Theater is an independent theatre company with a children's theatre house in the city of Hamm. The "Kulturbahnhof" is the place where the ensemble works as a theatre, creates new performances and presents its repertoire of currently 10 productions to the local audience.

Annually 1-2 new productions are developed. Barbara Kölling, stage director and artistic director of the theatre has shaped the work of the theatre for years. In close cooperation with the performers, topics are worked on, narrations are dramatized and explorations of material are developed into drama. In the interdisciplinary ensemble, artists from the fields of acting, puppetry, music and visual arts work together.

The theatre received the “promotion price of the county North-Rhine Westphalia” for its work four times. It was distinguished several times as “children theatre of the month” and was invited to many important festivals in Germany and abroad.

Theatre with children and young people

Two theatre pedagogues work together with the ensemble on different artistic concepts with and for children and teenagers as well as educators and teachers. At the moment there are three children's and youth ensembles which work in the rooms of the theatre house and appear once a year in public with their own productions.

hellwach – International Theatre Festival for Young Audiences

Besides its own productions, HELIOS Theater has established an international theatre festival for young audiences in the Hellweg region – “hellwach”. It started in 2002 and was biannually organized in Hamm and the surrounding towns of the Hellweg region since then. The festival presents extraordinary productions for young audiences from all over the world that follow interesting artistic routes and challenge the audience to take on new views on the world. The theatre house in Hamm forms the central meeting point of the festival – a place to exchange and build new cooperations. In the talks and discussions of the framework programme, the invited artists give background to their work. The festival has become an important platform for professional exchange about current questions in the theatre for young audiences. The 8th edition of "hellwach" took place in June 2018. On nine days performances were presented, lectures and discussions were held and the theatre house became the ideal place for meeting and exchanging thoughts.


International Cooperations

With the contact to other countries, HELIOS Theater has built up friendships with other theatres which lead to several international cooperations. 

In their collaboration 2014, HELIOS Theater and Teatr Atofri from Poznan/Poland were looking for possibilities of theatrically working on the theme of "Traces" for an early years audience. Building up on an intense research and improvisational process, two different and yet related productions were developed under the direction of Barbara Kölling: SPUREN and Slady (both titels are translated into English as Traces) play for audiences aged 2 years and up.

In 2016 a big focus of HELIOS Theater was the co-production with Ishyo Arts Centre from Kigali/Rwanda, Our House. In three intensive rehearsal periods, which took place in Kigali and Hamm, the ensemble of 3 German and 2 Rwandese performers created a play for people from 12 years and up about memory, working along the motive of the house.

Theatre for the Very Young

In 2004, a part of the theatre festival “hellwach” was dedicated to the theatre for the very young. In 2005 the HELIOS Theater continued to examine theatre which seriously takes small spectators as recipients of art by organising “first steps” – an international symposium. Within this context the participants analysed the background of this theatre form and watched & discussed various productions of the kind.

In the following year HELIOS Theater became the German partner of the project „small size – the net“ (2006-2009). This network of seven European theatres was supported by the European Commission and was concerned with the diffusion of performing arts aimed at early childhood (0-6 years). Based on the successful work throughout the years, two follow-up projects were launched: „Small Size – Big Citizens“ (2009-2014) and "Small Size – Wide Eyes" (2014-2019). By then, the circle of theatres and partners had widened up to 17 theatres from 15 European countries. Since 2018, the network was able to start a new international research project: “MAPPING”. Four groups of four theatres from 16 different European countries and four theatre researchers investigate aspects of different theatrical means – sound, image, words and movement – in the theatre for early years. Barbara Kölling has the artistic direction of the “SOUND” group.

Also in Germany this topic was increasingly argued: In 2006 the Children and Youth Theatre Centre of the Federal Republic of Germany launched a two-years project called “Theatre from the beginning!”. HELIOS Theater was one of four partner theatres who developed productions in cooperation with a team of researchers who accompanied the artists and children scientifically.
In 2007, a country-wide conference took place in the theatre house in Hamm. Under the label “Art and creativity from the beginning” it was one of the first forums for discussions concerning the aesthetic education of small children with a range from theatre to music and visual arts.

Two films concerning the subject "theatre for the very young" were published by HELIOS Theater:
a scientific research relating to the HELIOS production for the smallest "WOODBEAT" called "interplay in the experimental ground of children's theatre" and "Woolgathering", a short documentary which provides an insight into the rehearsal process of "Follow the Yarn".

Theatre and School

For years, there has been the work strand of “theatre and school”: Production projects with students, workshops for school groups, advanced training for teachers and discussions between artists and schools belong to the concept of HELIOS Theater.

A first school theatre meeting by the name of "APPLAUS!" took place in June 2005 and was contitued in a 2-year’s turnus since. It is a forum for theatre performances of secondary schools from Hamm, workshops as well as discussions.