Theatre for Young Audiences

HELIOS Theater is an independent theatre company with a children's theatre house in the city of Hamm. It was founded by artists in Cologne in 1989 and moved to Hamm in Westfalia in 1997. The "Kulturbahnhof", opened in 2004, is the place where the ensemble works as a theatre (see also: History of the Theatre House). New performances are created and presented to audiences of all ages here. The theatre’s repertoire currently contains 9 productions, 3 of them for the very young.

Annually 1-2 new productions are developed. Barbara Kölling, stage director and artistic director of the theatre, as well as Michael Lurse, actor and director, have shaped the work of the theatre for years. In close cooperation with the interdisciplinary performers, topics are worked on, narrations are dramatized and explorations of material are developed into drama.

Theatre with children and young people

While theatre FOR children and young people plays an important role at the HELIOS Theater, projects WITH children and teenagers expand the repertoire and focus on different topics. Thus the venue has become a gathering place for art lovers of every age.

Two theatre pedagogues offer projects and workshops in the children's and youth ensembles, in which they work on the basics of theatre and develop and play their own productions.

hellwach – International Theatre Festival for Young Audiences

At the HELIOS Theatre we also enjoy being the host: Nine times already, we invited guest performances from all continents to the International Theatre Festival “hellwach” in Hamm and the surrounding Hellweg region. Since 2002, the Theatre House is the centre of the biannual festival.

“hellwach” is the international festival of a region. Five to seven towns organize encounters between artists and the young audiences in their venues, artistically directed by the HELIOS Theater. 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 talks and discussions in the framework programme, held in the festival centre, initiate an intensive professional exchange.

In 2021 “hellwach” took place digitally for the first time. Many kindergartens and schools took the opportunity to watch plays online, as well as the international professional audience. In online meetings and discussions, the theatre creators exchanged ideas and questions about the theatre for the young audiences.


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 Poland created two different and yet related productions: SPUREN/Slady (both titles are translated into English as “Traces”) for audiences aged 2 years and up.

In 2016, Our House was created, a co-production with Ishyo Arts Centre from Kigali/Rwanda, . The ensemble of 3 German and 3 Rwandese performers created a play about memory, working along the motive of the house. “Our House”, a play for everybody 12+, was perfomed in Germany, Ruanda, France and was invited to the ASSITEJ World Congress in Cape Town/South Africa in 2017. In the same year, It was honoured with the award at “WESTWIND”, the annual gathering of Theatres for Young Audiences in NRW.

There is also longterm cooperation with the Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust from Delhi/India. The co-production planned for spring of 2020 sadly had to take place digitally due to Covid. However two plays for Kids were created in the Process: Curtain Up! in Germany and The Monster of Tilapur in India.

Theatre for the Very Young

One focus of the work of HELIOS Theater is the Theatre for the Very Young. Barbara Kölling, one of the artistic directors, describes her interest in this theatre form:

“A theatre develops that continuously re-defines its artistic means and exactly specifies its relation to the audience. A contemplative theatre full of relish, not only for very young children. A theatre, that is often close to visual arts in its high degree of abstraction, and hence can be understood as a very philosophic theatre. It doesn’t address very young children to entertain them or to directly teach them something. It claims itself as an art that responds to the special abilities of very young people. They are especially strong in the field of associative perception.”

Since 2005, the HELIOS Theater has been creating plays for children 2+, has searched and initiated exchange and collaborated in national and European projects such as small size (2006-2018) and Mapping (2018-2023).

APPLAUS! – Theatre and School

In continuous cooperation with the secondary schools in Hamm, HELIOS Theater creates performances with students, workshops for teachers and discussions.

Since 2005, the HELIOS Theater organizes the biannual school theatre meeting "APPLAUS". It gives schools the chance to present their theatre work on a professional stage, invites the audiences to talks with the young performers and serves as a platform for cultural and educational policy.

Nominations and Awards

In 2009, the HELIOS Theater was awarded the Award of ASSITEJ Germany for its “influential, innovative and theoretically profound, regionally and internationally connected theatre work”. The jury especially praised the innovative ideas in many fields: “…here, new ways of artistic storytelling are explored – this is where the future’s happening”.

Furthermore, HELIOS Theater was nominated for the George Tabori Award, an important theatre award in Germany, in 2011.

In 2019, the HELIOS Theater received the Theatre Award of the Federal Republic of Germany, for its profound artistic concept.