Between the 1st and 29th of September 2019, artists can apply with a performance concept for Café Theater Festival 2020 in Utrecht, Tilburg and/or Zwolle. Read the artist information and conditions below before you apply. Please apply trough our application form.

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The Café Theater Festival (CTF) is thé springboard festival for artists who are at the start of their career and want to develop themselves in the field of site-specific theatre in public spaces. Cafés are an ultimate place to experiment with new work because of the mix of casual café guests and a festival-audience, the very most honest audience imaginable. At CTF you immediately feel what works and what doesn’t, and you’re able to start an investigation together with your audience. Artists can apply with a written or video-presentation of their concept. After a thorough selection procedure, there’s the possibility to participate in the Café Theater Fabriek, a tailor-made workshop program featuring intensive artistic coaching during your creative process. A few examples of companies taking their first steps in location theatre at the CTF are: Youri & Marie (winner of the CTF Jury Prize Utrecht 2018), MAN II CO (winner of the Jury Prize CTF Utrecht 2017) and Club Gewalt (winner of the Jury Prize CTF Utrecht 2013). Also artists such as Kiki Schippers, Josephine van Rheenen and Greg Nottrot have been performing their first theatrical experiments at the CTF. Feel welcome to register with a performance concept and perhaps join the CTF club!


The CTF aims to present professional artists who are at the start of their career. Artists who have a motivation to experiment with work in a café, and for whom the CTF can offer a springboard. You can register as a graduated artist, self-made artist or as an artist about to graduate (final year of a study program). Apply with a performative concept, focused on the context of a cafe. All genres are welcome, including youth theatre. (NB: If you submit a youth concept, it must be suitable for all ages.) The only genre we do not program is improvisation theatre.
We do not accept registrations from amateur artists and/or companies.


The Café Theatre Festival Utrecht (5-8 March 2020) programs 28 performances by individuals artists or companies; the Café Theatre Festivals in Zwolle (20-22 March 2020) and Tilburg (3-5 April 2020) program 10 companies each. In all three cities, part of the performance-slots are designated for local artists, who have either studied locally or are living in the city. Some of the programmed artists at CTF Utrecht are also selected to participate in the CTF editions in Zwolle and Tilburg. In the application form you can specify for which of the three festivals (one or more) you want to apply. When applying, you must be available whole days on áll festival dates of the concerning city (including a try-out date). If and when you pass the selection procedure, the program-staff of CTF will ultimately decide in which city or cities you will perform.


You can apply between the 1st and 29th of September 2019, by filling in our registration form with a written version of your concept, uploading a video-presentation, or both. You increase your chances of being invited for an interview, by working out your concept in detail and explaining how your concept is suitable for a café. We also prefer you to apply with a complete team, including all performers. After the deadline, we’ll let you know whether or not you are invited for an interview (about 45% of the applications proceeds). If you are invited for a selection interview, you’ll get the chance to explain your concept ánd to show some live (prepared or improvised) material. The interviews will be held by our program teams between 8 and 15 October. In the week after the interviews, the team will announce the definite selection to the artists. The programmers will decide who is going to play in which city and in which café(s).


Prior to the festival, you will take part in our trajectory called the ‘Café Theater Fabriek’:

  • A member of our artistic team will visit three of your rehearsals for artistic coaching in your working process, with advice on the way you use the (theatrical)space and the dramaturgy of your performance.
  • You get the opportunity to partake in workshop-days about PR, funding-applications, theatre in public space and sneak previews.
  • Prior to the festival you will show a sneak preview to a group of programmers. Approximately 100 professionals from around the country, representing festivals, venues, impresarios, casting agencies and funds are present at CTF Utrecht. At CTF Zwolle en Tilburg mainly local programmers are invited.
  • You will be in the running for a jury price and audience price. We give away prize money, coaching and arrangements to play at other festivals and theatres.
  • After the festival you’ll receive feedback from our jury.


  • A requirement of participating at a CTF city is that you are available whole days at ALL FESTIVALDATES. The festivaldates are: Utrecht 5/6/7/8 March 2020 and try-outs at 24/25/26 February (available at least 1 day for a try-out). Zwolle: 20/21/22 March 2020 and try-outs at the 15th of March. Tilburg: 3/4/5 April 2020 and try-outs on the 24th of March. You cannot apply for a city if you’re not available on all dates. The CTF Utrecht lasts for 4 days; the CTF Tilburg and Zwolle last for 3 days.
    • You must be available at least 1 try-out date to play a try-out in your café. (If you perform in multiple cities, you’re also requested to perform a try-out in the new venues, because of the location-oriented aspect of your performance.)
    • You must be available for all festival dates of the designated city (during the day and in the evening) and to perform your work 8-10 times in total. (Exception: Family and youth-theatre only performs on Saturdays & Sundays during the day, at a total of 6 performances)
  • You create and perform your work in a café assigned to you by the CTF. (If you perform in multiple cities, you’re required to transform your performance for the new city and location.)
  • A CTF artist-group consists of a maximum of 8 people. considering “being a guest” in a cafe.
  • We strongly recommend working with a director / choreographer, because of the specific location based requirements in a café setting.
    Your performance has a minimum length of 15 and a maximum length of 30 minutes.
  • Performances are not designed with a classical theatre set-up and tribune in mind: visitors are present standing or seated throughout the entire café. You’ll in the middle and close by the audience, part of which consists of theatre-laymen.
  • In the evenings, cafés are often packed. Therefore it’s important that the performance takes environmental noises and sightlines into account.
  • You will use the technical set-up the café offers. Usually this is limited to an audio installation and simple café lighting. Additional technology will be arranged and supplied when the CTF team considers this a necessary requirement for your performance.


  • The CTF does not require a participation fee for artists.
  • CTF-companies receive a fee for performing in every CTF-city, consisting of the following amounts. If you would be programmed in more than one CTF-city, you will receive this sum of fees for each city. (Do note, the amounts might be raised slightly depending on different funding applications, awaiting results presently).
    • A production budget of at least € 120 per company.
    • A performance fee of at least € 120 per person for all performers involved + 1 extra person (e.g. a director/choreographer)
    • 50% of all the public contributions in your own café. The CTF works with a Pay What You Can principle: after the performance, the artists themselves make an announcement in which they ask visitors to make a cash or pin donation with a contribution of € 4, € 7 or € 10 based on carrying capacity. (At the CTF Utrecht 2019 the highest amount collected by a company amounted € 3400,- of which the company received €1700,-.)
    • Catering will be provided on a daily basis during the festival. For artists living outside the city, we’ll accommodate sleeping arrangements or a travel allowance.
  • In the Café Theater Fabriek, we offer coaching expertise with funding applications and financing, in order to support you in finding additional financing.



“At CTF we felt really helped and supported as young makers. The CTF programmers gave us a lot of meaningful tips for our use of the location, which helped us a lot developing our selfs in this context. After CTF and our beautiful jury report, we have received many invitations of programmers and we have been able to keep performing our show a lot. CTF is a platform where many programmers are coming to scout new talent for their future programs.”

– Youri & Marie – winners Juryprize CTF Utrecht 2018


At CTF you create a performance which is inspired by the space, characteristics, atmosphere, history and/or stories of the café. This doesn’t mean you have to use the café literally as a café in your performance. You can also use specific features of the café to create a new reality, as long as you are aware of the meaning of the location. An existing performance can never be simply copied to the café; therefore the space is too dominant and you would miss a lot of opportunities the space offers you. So in case you base your CTF-performance on existing work, you should think closely what the transformation to the café contains.

Some examples as an inspiration. In the past we have seen the café as a carnival party pub, as a space for debate, as a prison cell, as a canteen of an office or as a crowded train coupe. We have seen how paintings and stories from the café came to life by using a voice-over. We have seen how characters became more tragic and lonely in contrast to the happy ambiance of the café. We have seen how objects from the café (like glasses, candles, tea-towels) have been used as props for telling a story. We have seen how the audience has been transformed into the role of a potential date, participants in a game or potential victims of cannibals. Everything is possible in a café, so be creative!