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NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste e.V.

Deutsche Straße 10
44339 Dortmund
How to get here 0231 47 42 92 10
Faxfax 0231 47 42 92 11
Foto © FAV18 / Sarah Rauch

FAVORITEN theatre festival

FAVORITEN, the festival for the independent performing arts in North Rhine-Westphalia, welcomes the independent scene of NRW to Dortmund every two years to present and discuss artistic working methods and forms of expression that boast an innovative aesthetic.

In nearly three decades of its existence, the context of the NRW theatre festival, founded in 1985 under the name Theaterzwang, has been evolving steadily: in terms of cultural policy, aesthetics, urban planning and sociography. So has the concept and self-image of the independent scene itself.

The oldest German off-theatre festival, with its programme that is always fresh and contemporary, is aimed equally at the local and regional community as well as at a national and international audience of professionals.

The festival is organised by the NRW Landesbüro Freie Darstellende Künste e.V. and the cultural office of the city of Dortmund.


September 15 – 25, 2022, artistic directors: Anne Mahlow, Margo Zālīte & Sina-Marie Schneller

There can be no return to normal, because normal was the problem in the first place: Anne Mahlow, Margo Zālīte and Sina-Marie Schneller addressed the challenges of the present and the future on an artistic and discursive level for the FAVORITEN Festival with the slogan (Un)Learning for possible futures.

The FAVORITEN Festival was held as a hybrid event for the first time, with 10 days of analogue productions, city walks, exhibitions, digital live performances and numerous video features in the media library.


September 10 – 20, 2020, artistic directors: Fanti Baum & Olivia Ebert

Themed WHILE WE ARE WORKING, FAVORITEN 2020 invites you to explore different fields of working and non-working in the arts and in society – of craft, artistic, industrial, caring and, last but not least, communal activities.

More than 20 outstanding projects inspired us to rethink our notion of work. The FAVORITEN Festival celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2020.


September 6 – 16, 2018, artistic directors: Fanti Baum & Olivia Ebert

As calls for cultural role models increase and identitarian and national voices gain traction, the 2018 edition is focusing on artistic strategies that seek to resist tendencies towards the definitive and the stable. How can performing arts reject politically and aesthetically dominant cultures? How can this be used to carve out aesthetic spaces? And which artistic experiments attack social realities?

FAV18 took place over eleven eventful days, with 40 performances by 18 guest ensembles and an attendance rate of 91% in the north of Dortmund. FAV18 initiated encounters between the avant-garde and the city, between circus and dance, opera and installation.


September 23 – October 2, 2016, artistic director: Holger Bergmann

Themed Blendwerke!, FAVORITEN 2016 is all about big deceptions and little fakes, about the many forms of lies we are exposed to – or expose ourselves to – in our urban communities. The city is, after all, the stage on which we negotiate who we are supposed to be. Where do we put up an act, a pose and a performance in everyday life?

For ten days, the festival of independent performing arts in NRW transformed the Dortmunder U and the Unionviertel into its stage. More than a hundred events took place at seven venues; in addition to performances and installations, there was music, dance, performances and a film and literature programme.