The Ringlokschuppen Ruhr (Roundhouse Ruhr) is one of Germany's most renowned co-producing venues for theatre, performance theatre and dance, as well as the independent scene. A range of artistic voices, a willingness to experiment and an international character are all standard in Mülheim, attracting an enthusiastic audience from across the entire Ruhr area into the semi-circular industrial monument with its flexible stage areas.
The performances which are first tried out and ultimately debuted here by various groups such as "andcompany&Co.", "Monster Truck" or "vorschlag:hammer" often take big creative risks. Here, radio-controlled expeditions into the city replace the traditional proscenium stage, and classic productions make way for creative experiments – the likes of which have never been seen before. When attending a premiere at the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, be prepared to throw any expectations you may have out the window. One trick, ever unusual but ultimately charming, used by the productions which are created here is often to take the audience out of the passive role of spectator.
To do so, the small Ringlokschuppen Ruhr team around artistic director Matthias Frense enthusiastically but almost invisibly creates a professional framework within which the exuberant joy which comes with playing with new forms of expression can flourish. The diversity of the independent scene ranges from the visually powerful narrative dance theatre of the Cooperativa Maura Morales to the participatory "Jump'n'Run" concept provided by performance collective Anna Kpok.
At the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, you can bear witness to the first performances of productions which later provide plenty of material for discussion at the Kampnagel in Hamburg, the HAU in Berlin, or at festivals around the world. What's more, these productions often undertake international tours which last for multiple years.
In turn, the programme provided by these avant-garde theatrical circles is extended into Mülheim itself by celebrated regular visitors such as Rimini Protokoll or René Pollesch, in events which are aimed at increasing the theatrical awareness of the audience, for example those which form part of the "Impulse Theater Festival".
Festivals generally have a big part to play when it comes to planning the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr's programme. The cabinet of curiosities-style "Shiny Toys" festival for audiovisual experiments, which takes place in winter, or the "Cheers for Fears" festival in spring, which acts as a forum in which students of the scenic arts can participate in interdisciplinary discussions, are just some of the events which attract new audiences to the venue. During these events, the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, an impressive industrial monument, is transformed into an ideal festival centre.
At the same time, the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr – like no other theatre – has managed to use art to worm its way into the development of its city. From the controversial way in which the "Schlimmcity" city festival manages to address painful issues to Dries Verhoeven's provocative exhibition of unusual people in the pedestrian area of the city in a glass box, to the founding of a "Silent University" for academics who are refugees or asylum seekers – time and time again, the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr sets off debates which go beyond the artistic and extend far into the political sphere.
As a venue for the Stücke festival, it hosts cabaret and concert evenings, with literature-based events which range from readings by authors to poetry slams. What's more, it also acts as the home venue for Mülheim's Wodo Puppenspiel puppet theatre.
Only two subway stops from Mülheim's main train station and situated directly on the Radschnellweg RS1 (Cycle Superhighway RS1), the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr can be found idyllically placed in the well-maintained MüGa Park, which hosted the state horticultural show in 1992. Before visiting a performance, visitors can visit the largest accessible camera obscura in the world, within walking distance of the Ringlokschuppen Ruhr, to take a look at Schloss Broich (Broich Castle) on the nearby bank of the Ruhr river. Alternatively, they can look a little closer to home and inspect the theatre bar’s menu instead.
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