GRIPS Profile

GRIPS is the “emancipatory theatre” that deals critically with the lives of children and young people.

Children and young people are curious and enjoy independent thinking, feeling, developing perspectives and creating! GRIPS stands for this kind of thinking, literally “having fun thinking”.

Founded in 1969 by Volker Ludwig, the children’s and youth theatre has been called GRIPS since 1972. Along with the name, the theatre also got the logo in the same year: A shapeless person who peers out of the box with curious eyes. Independent thinking, being curious and asking questions are still essential aspects that GRIPS Theater promotes with its theatre work among young audiences. It shows perspectives to understand the world and conditions as changeable. GRIPS Theater, under the direction of Philipp Harpain, is an open house for people of all ages. It is a impulse providing, locally and internationally networked place for children’s and youth theatre, which follows the tradition of realistic, emancipatory contemporary theatre. On stage and through its work it advocates the fundamental rights of children and young people.

Questions about productions relevant to the programme and any new engagements of ensemble members are not just a decision of the artistic director, but rather are mostly decided according to a co-determination model made up of twelve employees.

The programme is mainly characterised by premieres: Contemporary authors develop plays for a young audience, mostly on behalf of the theatre and together with the dramaturgy of the house. In addition, GRIPS Theater campaigns for the targeted promotion of up-and-coming authors for children’s and youth theatre in the form of tenders and competitions. Current, socio-political or unique, touching stories are taken up in research, so that experiences, motifs and perspectives from the specific world of young audiences can be found in the plays. Exciting theatre experiences arise from the most varied of perspectives, which concern children and young people and which depict the diversity of our society today. Theatre that encourages.

The focus of all theatre work is a thirteen-member ensemble and a large network of artists: Actors, musicians, directors, authors, stage and costume designers, choreographers, video artists and many others. The extraordinary joy of performing in the ensemble, which stands behind work and materials with great commitment, is almost always carried over to the young audience. Music often plays a major role in the productions – songs and compositions are specially developed for the individual productions. The musical dramaturgy provides impulses again and again and accompanies the musical development of the house. With all these artists working together, GRIPS Theater creates five to six productions for young audiences a year. Together with the productions of the children’s club Rakete Jetzt!, the youth club Banda Agita and the Researchers, that means up to nine premieres per season.

In order to reach children and young people from all over the city, GRIPS Theater is well networked with its programs and diverse partnerships. It maintains close relationships with teachers, trainee teachers, social workers, doctors, NGOs and many children and young people themselves. GRIPS classes, Tuki and fanfare partnerships as well as more than 30 school partnerships by means of GRIPS Fever give the young audience long-term access to cultural education.

In one of the largest theatre education departments in Germany, the offer ranges from intensive accompaniment of the play development process by children and young people, through a training area for educators, to political participation projects and artistic theatre work with children, young people and young adults in the clubs.

The direct contact and exchange of GRIPS Theater with children, young people, educators and civil society actors is particularly important in all of these projects.

With the establishment of GRIPS’ own music label GRIPS Records and the GRIPS Foundation by Theatre director Philipp Harpain and Managing director Andreas Joppich, the theatre is up-to-date and future-proof. 

And no matter how often you get angry about Berlin: When you step out of the darkness of the auditorium onto the ugly Hansaplatz, you are reconciled with the city – after all, GRIPS Theater is there!
Zitty