By us, about us
In 1990, actress and dramaturgy Ph.D. Gisela Höhne and director Klaus Erforth called an “Arts Workshop for the Mentally Disabled and Others” into being (formerly Sonnenuhr e.V., it has been called RambaZamba e.V. since 2012). In 1991, Gisela Höhne founded Theater RambaZamba Berlin and has since directed more than 20 full-length pieces there. For two decades, she and Klaus Erforth were the sole directors of Theater RambaZamba. It has come to be known as “Germany's most important integrative theater” (newspaper Mainzer Allgemein Zeitung) “where disability is experienced as a strength” (newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau). 30 full-length productions have premiered since the theater's founding.
Theater RambaZamba follows an artistic approach. People with extremely different kinds of impairments, working together with others, should be able to explore and show their potential in diverse ways. They have been trained from the very start, receiving instruction in rhythm and bodywork, speech and voice training, dance and musical areas. Along with elements of acting, influences from the visual arts, music and dance always appear in the productions. The pieces relate to current social issues, pick up on classical material and have been developed by both directors together with the ensemble.
Invitations brought the ensemble to festivals and renowned theaters in Germany and abroad (to the Expos in Lisbon and Hanover, to the Akademietheater Vienna, to the Dependance of the famous Burgtheater, to Zürich, Graz, Rome, Oslo and Versailles, to Munich, Dresden, Hamburg, Mainz and Leipzig, among others). Well-known theater people and artists became involved with the performances and actions, also because “RambaZamba (is) the only theater that can get by without a crisis of meaning. The tragic is transformed into glad tidings” (director and artistic director of the Berliner Volksbühne Frank Castorf).
Theater RambaZamba has received multiple awards, including the advancement award of the Academy of Arts Berlin-Brandenburg in 1996, the Special Award of the 4th Festival of Politik im freien Theater (Politics in Independent Theater) in Stuttgart in 1991 for the production of “Medea” and the Deutschen KinderKulturPreis (German Children's Culture Award) from the Federal Minister of Family, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth in 1999.
In 2002, Gisela Höhne received the Berliner Verdienstorden (Order of Merit) and in 2004, the theater was awarded the daily newspaper BZ's International Cultural Award. For their “service for the participation of disabled people in artistic and social life”, founders Dr. Gisela Höhne and Klaus Erforth were honored with the 2009 Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Nele Winkler (an actress with Theater RambaZamba since 1996) was granted the advancement award of the Lessing-Akademie by Claus Peymann in 2012. Gisela Höhne was honored with the significant Caroline-Neuber-Preis by the city of Leipzig in 2014.
Since the year 2000, Theater RambaZamba has received institutional funding from the Berlin Senate Chancellery – Cultural Affairs, thereby affirming its solid place within Berlin's theater and cultural scene. This one-of-a-kind financial sponsorship justified the theatre's reputation as a role model and inspiration for many theater artists. In addition, the theater and its nonprofit organization are financed by project grants and donations.
In 2008 the theater began a collaboration with VIA-Werkstätten gGmbH – an important step toward recognition of the acting profession for people with disabilities. Theater RambaZamba became officially nationally and internationally recognized for its role as a trailblazer in this area. Gisela Höhne was invited as an expert to many conferences to report on her work with the theater. To date, 35 persons are employed in positions as actors, together with professionals from the theater and music fields. Under the artistic direction of Gisela Höhne and Jacob Höhne, the theater currently presents ca. 80 to 100 performances yearly.
Further information on the history of Theater RambaZamba can be found here: