With a total of more than 3,500 visitors, the fifth edition of our ATOLL Festival ended. "We can be proud that with this ten-day event we have once again succeeded in providing the contemporary circus with a prominent podium and in creating a nice festival atmosphere despite the current conditions," says Britta Velhagen, "just that we did it was a very important signal. The ATOLL Festival was one of the few relevant festivals in Europe that could take place at all in the Corona Year 2020 and thus moved beyond Germany into the focus of the circus world.
"In any case, it was the right decision to let ATOLL take place in 2020 as well," Bernd Belschner affirms, "we had initially expected a certain reluctance on the part of the audience this year, but were surprised by a stormy rush on the first day of advance sales. After just 24 hours, a third of all available seats had been allocated and the first events were sold out. "We would like to thank the audience for this great trust in our competence and diligence, and the public and private supporters such as the City of Karlsruhe, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the Art and Culture Foundation of the Sparda-Bank Baden-Württemberg for making ATOLL possible," says Belschner, who points out that holding events in times of pandemic requires a huge amount of personnel and logistical effort, pushed our company to its limits in terms of organization.
"Many people thanked us with a smile for the fact that they could feel safe and comfortable at ATOLL and that we were able to make them happy through the inspiring performances", says Stefan Schönfeld, who is involved in the ATOLL project management as artistic advisor. This happiness was also felt by the artists, who often gratefully emphasized that after more than half a year they had their first performances in front of an audience in Karlsruhe again.
Daniel Geiger, who as the technical director of the ATOLL Festival played a decisive role in ensuring that the event took place on the various stages of the TOLLHAUS as well as in the meat market hall of the Altes Schlachthof Corona in accordance with the regulations. Thus, individual stage concepts were always conceived and audience rooms were designed so that the distances were not perceived as painful empty spaces. "The main thing was that we found solutions that did not restrict the groups in their ideas. The fact that we succeeded in this makes us happy, even though we have already missed the tents in the outdoor area this year", says Geiger. Instead of more than 9,000 visitors last year, only the 3,500 people mentioned found space at ATOLL this year, which corresponds to almost 100 percent capacity utilization.
With twelve productions from ten nations, ATOLL 2020 has represented the entire spectrum of current circus development with great diversity and has often sparked stormy enthusiasm. Between the 19 artists flying through the air of the French Compagnie XY and the charming clown duo "Pss Pss" of the Swiss Compagnia Baccalá, ATOLL's physical and visual theater, which was sometimes brilliantly artistic, sometimes strangely weird, sometimes existential, sometimes pure nonsense, but usually also revealing depth, lay many worlds of celebration. As a rule, the plays dispensed with language and were thus largely barrier-free and worked for all age groups and cultural backgrounds. At the same time, most of the productions shown achieved an ambiguity from which each and every one can read their own story. Thus, the ATOLL Festival 2020 served many tastes, and almost every production became a personal highlight for many visitors, be it the "Dystonia" by the French company Defracto, which was deprived of an idiosyncratic imagination and the power of the world, or the "122 x 144" by the German-Swiss duo Klub Girko, which tirelessly worked on wooden boards of various sizes, the performance "Work" by the Italian-Belgian Cie Claudio Stellato, which combines the work and art process with a lot of color, verve and allusions, the quietly humorous and amusing tea ceremony "Vu" by Etienne Manceau of the Compagnie Sacékripa or the absurd variety show "Der Lauf" by the Belgian Le Cirque du Bout du Monde.
A large professional audience came to Karlsruhe with performances of the Circus On sponsorship program for contemporary circus, a nationwide organizer's meeting, and the network meeting of the Bundesverband zeitgenössischer Zirkus (BUZZ), the federal association of contemporary circus. Also numerous visitors from all over Europe.
Here you can find our photo review of the ATOLL-FESTIVAL 2020.
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Review on 2019th edition: