The seventh edition ATOLL Festival came to a successful close


With sold-out halls and tents, the ATOLL Festival for contemporary circus came to an end on Sunday, 25.09.2022, at our TOLLHAUS. More than 6,500 visitors had been able to experience the rich palette of the young art form of contemporary circus creation at a very high level at ATOLL. "This year we have gone even further in terms of breadth and depth in terms of programming than in previous years and have shown how rapidly circus is currently developing and growing," says Bernd Belschner, one of the festival directors and managing director of TOLLHAUS. "We have the impression that the ATOLL Festival gives the whole scene a boost and strengthens the motivation to tackle and pursue new projects," says Belschner. 

"The festival has meanwhile become a meeting place for national and international artists and organisers," emphasised Belschner's managing director colleague Britta Velhagen: "After the Corona editions, the need was felt here to meet for several days, to find out about the work of colleagues and to experience culture together again. This atmosphere has also been transmitted to the general public, who, in view of the difficult times in many respects, are often grateful for ATOLL," says Velhagen: "The circus in particular has a lot to say socially through its indispensably solidary approach and the search for freedom in dealing with all kinds of artistic resources in the present." 

This year, Belgian and French productions in particular formed a focal point, with classics and old masters of the genre such as Atelier Lejeune & André or Circus Ronaldo setting inspiring highlights with new pieces. Among the many German premieres in the festival was also the African Circus Baobab, which presented the piece "Yé", which dealt with water and climate justice, a topic ATOLL had already dedicated itself to the previous year. 

"It has been very successful that we were able to draw thematic lines through our programme this year," says Stefan Schönfeld, who directs the festival together with Velhagen and Belschner. Thus, with Ronaldo's "Sono io?" and the There There Company, also from Belgium, and their piece "Carrying My Father", there were two pieces dedicated to the father-son relationship in different but extremely touching ways. Another thematic line of connection was the exploration and redefinition of the relationship between man and object, which was the focus of various circus productions. In the German-Austrian production "Sawdust Symphony", for example, do-it-yourself utensils were used in the circus, which caused surprised enthusiasm among the audience. The audience's reaction to the virtuosity with which Stijn Grupping exchanged balls with robots in "Man Strikes Back" was one of incredulous amazement. The opening show by the Israeli Inbal Ben Haim, who shimmied through mountains of paper in "PLI", and the Italian-French circus My!Laika, which was committed to the absurd and came to Karlsruhe with its own tent, produced powerful images. 

Numerous other performances and events, both large and small, such as artistic tours of the Alter Schlachthof creative park, a version of Alexander Vantournhout's piece "Screws" conceived for the opulent spaces of the ZKM, work-in-progress performances, a workshop and various industry meetings completed the extensive ATOLL programme.

The eighth edition, which is expected to take place from 14 to 24 September 2023, also promises many facets and new manifestations of a blossoming art form that is increasingly establishing itself in Germany as well and is able to appeal to a broad audience.


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