© Heike Kandalowski


© Heike Kandalowski

Our questionnaire

Urban discovery with: Fabian Sattler

"Encounter the unknown"

Fabian Sattler, actor, director and artistic organiser, explains the uniqueness of the Ruhr region as a location for art and culture and how his work is shaped by it.


Fabian Sattler



Birthplace / Place of residence:

Mutlangen / Essen


Actor, director and artistic organiser


How would you describe yourself and your work to an alien?

Good question! My little daughter says: "Daddy goes hopping...". Even though she thinks of a warm-up training session in the theatre she once watched, she's not so wrong, figuratively speaking. Because in fact I jump a lot and with pleasure: between my artistic projects, which I am working on with our independent theatre ensemble TOBOSO, and in the Maschinenhaus Essen, where I have been working in planning and organising for over 10 years and can thus actively shape and promote the independent scene in Essen. I would explain to the alien that every day in my work I too try to get closer to the human species and to understand it. I am amazed every every day anew.

What is your drive to create art?

The scenic arts enable - hopefully! - unique experiences! Why else should I go to see a theatre performance? At best, this experience takes place analogue and live - I personally have not warmed up to the digital substitutes during the pandemic lockdown. The analogue moment of a performance speaks directly and "multi-sensorially" to all participants, involves everyone and, in the best case, creates stimulating and formative impulses - for everyone to themself but also in exchange with each other. I do not understand art as a one-way street, but always as a (favourite) occasion to encounter the unknown.

What do you love most in the Ruhr region in general?

When I think of the ant trails of the Berlin or Hamburg cultural scene, I look with great pleasure and joy at the Ruhr scene. It is large (!) and very diverse, and offers artistic freedom that does not exist in other conurbations. These free spaces are an enormous source of inspiration for me, even if they often require more elaborate pioneering work.

Three places in the Ruhr region that you definitely show visitors:

The Machinenhaus Essen, of course. That's something that comes naturally when you visit me ;-) I love the Schurenbachhalde. And all the green that is here, which people from outside rarely suspect.

What makes the arts and culture scene here so special?

The unfinished, being permanently in-development. Something new can emerge here every day. There is - in the best sense - little that is set in stone. The protagonists can constantly give the local art and culture scene, or rather the many different scenes, new shapes through their actions.

In which places can you feel the metropolis of the arts here?

Perhaps most likely in the trains and buses, that is, in the in-between, on the way from one to the other. The many art- and cultural locations are still small universes in themselves. But this holds the unbelievable possibility that culture and the (liberal) arts could become the driving factor in the Ruhr region.

Where/when did you have your best cultural experience?

In a field near Dinslaken. At a performance of the Ruhrtriennale, the Belgian company Studio ORKA had a whole house disappear into the ground, right next to a cornfield. That was magical.

Where do you like to go out to eat & drink?

At the KultCafé in Altenessen, at Schiffers or at Sorellis in Essen-Werden, at the Frittenschmiede in Heidhausen, at Café de Prins in teh south of Essen, at Frank's on the Frohnhauser Markt ... but above all with lovely and exciting people.

The best parties are in the...

After almost 2 years of the pandemic and as a father of two small children, I am unfortunately not an expert in this area. I'd rather not presume to make any current recommendations.

If the Ruhr area was a song, this is how it would sound:

It would be an experimental piece of music, although it would be composed of familiar to sometimes almost old-fashioned elements. The experiment would be the mixing, the simultaneity of all the different voices, which would melt together in this song to form something new.

What's your next project?

As an active part of TOBOSO, I'm looking forward to a whole series of playdates (which we are incredibly looking forward to after the Corona drought) and pre-rehearsals for a new children's theatre production. For Maschinenhaus Essen I get to evaluate and further develop our summer.art.camp FUTURE CITY: In July 2021, 50 children and young people together with a team of professional artists and craftsmen and women built their future city on the grounds around Maschinenhaus. Even though many things have been restored to their original state, many foundations for future projects have been laid in our heads!