Talking About Silence

for everyone 14+

The Ishyo Arts Center (Kigali/Rwanda) and the HELIOS Theater (Hamm/Germany) are coming together for the second time and are working on a theatre production for young audiences. Carole Karemera and Barbara Kölling as directors, Steffen Moor as author, Michael Lurse as set designer and an ensemble consisting of 6 actors and musicians are working on a play about silence over a year in Rwanda and Germany.

Many conversations in the collaboration so far have revolved around the specific history of Rwanda and Germany and their impact on the people in these countries to this day. It's about taboos: social taboos, family taboos, internal family stories that are talked about and kept silent about. Taboos “regulate” coexistence; there are taboos that are essential for survival, as well as taboos that are nothing more than a means of pressure, a ban, or discrimination.


6 people on stage, 6 stories about silence.
There's the story of the aunt who doesn't speak much, the grandfather who keeps his secrets, the sister who wants people to finally talk to each other.
Family stories in Rwanda, Germany and Korea.
Curious, funny, unexpected, sad stories, unknown stories and some you think you know very well. Let's talk about silence.

The play is performed in English.

Premiere was on 22nd October, 2023.


Performance:  Andersonne Uwineza, Kenny Mirasano, Claudia Shimwa, Minju Kim, Felix Breuel, Tamara Hermanns
Production: Carole Karemera, Barbara Kölling and Team
Script: Steffen Moor and Team
Scenography: Michael Lurse and Team
Tech: Malte Kochanek, Benjamin Kurz

Funded by: TURN2 Fund of Bundeskulturstiftung

Press Reviews

Tuesday, October 24, 2023, Westfälischer Anzeiger Hamm / Culture

“Talking about Silence” in the Helios Theater Hamm


Hamm – The family goes on a trip by car, but the mother's seat is empty. Yesterday they went fishing and had fun. Nobody speaks now.

This episode is part of a series of touching stories in “Talking About Silence”, shown at the Helios Theater. The English-language play for ages 14+ is a production by the Ishyo Arts Center from Kigali/Rwanda and the Hammer Theater directed by Carol Karemera and Barbara Kölling with texts by Steffen Moor. The work took place in Rwanda and Germany for a year.

It's about speaking and remaining silent, about secrets, prohibitions and discrimination. The stories often take place in a family context, sometimes they refer to the history of Germany and Rwanda, to war and dictatorship.

Six African and German actors stand on the stage immersed in mysterious shadows (Michael Lurse). The sentences are razor-sharp – “Don’t speak!”, “Talking is silver, silence is golden”, “Only speak if you really have something to say”. Phrases that everyone probably knows.

Most of the stories are minimalistic. The only thing that changes is Claudia Shimwa's facial expressions as she speaks to the voicemail several times and asks for a callback. She bravely listens into the silence.

The boy (Felix Breuel) is lying on the floor of his parents' apartment. Voices from the neighbors reach him: laughter and discussions that sometimes become more violent until the voices fall silent and worry him more than loud words.

There is something deeply sad, heartbreaking about such situations. Although the premiere audience also has a lot to laugh about. But there are also little things like sharing meals together in complete silence. And the opposite can also be unbearable. When irrelevant questions are bombarded at the children in a staccato manner until all they long for is silence. Maybe because they know there could be a terrible truth behind the sentences.

At the end the stage fills with material and the space becomes denser. You can hear the tearing of paper, the groaning of printing presses, the orders of the police: Go into your houses, be quiet! There is genocide in Rwanda, and although this episode is the most tragic of all, it seems much less powerful on stage than the small family dramas.

But why wasn't the mother in the car? The answer is brutal.