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An Urban Festwochen Experience

An Urban Festwochen Experience

It was noon as I entered the ticket office of the Wiener Festwochen in Lehàrgasse 3a: The place was empty, and the guard was playing chess against himself. The festival had just begun, and I left laden with flyers and booklets. Since 1951, the Vienna festival courts natives and tourists, artists, amateurs and passionates, who […]

Festwochen: Rethinking Ibsen

Festwochen: Rethinking Ibsen

Last year it was Kate Blanchett’s virtuosity in the Sydney Theatre Company’s uneven production of Botho Strauss’ Big and Small. This year’s Australian contribution to the Wiener Festwochen is Simon Stone’s, “after Ibsen” Wild Duck. His ensemble goes for the jugular. Beyond the idealism, the notions of truth, “life-lies” and aesthetics associated with the Norwegian […]

Gallery Run: Actionism, the Life Ball, and Guest Workers

Gallery Run: Actionism, the Life Ball, and Guest Workers

Next to gilded Klimt, the wild performances of Viennese Actionists of the 1960s are one of the international trademarks of Austrian culture. In post-war, post-occupation Austria, Actionism was catharsis, protest, and a libidinal liberation that broke with art traditions, paving the way for contemporary performance art. Figuratively, Actionism still visualizes cultural symptoms, today in the […]

Staging Shame

Staging Shame

“What happened to me is a purely private matter.” In J. M. Coetzee’s 1999 novel Disgrace, Lucy is describing rape by strangers – and also telling her father the reason she won’t go to the police about it. It’s a comment that could only come from a novel, a meta-philosophical, meta-rational, meta-religious decision, that Lucy […]

Caught up with Cate

Caught up with Cate

“Did you hear that?” Eyes wide with astonishment, a waif-like Cate Blanchett sits alone at the edge of a vast stage at the MuseumsQuartier, feet dangling over the side. “Two men! Talking! Amaaaazing!”  Her voice gushes up like a fountain of sound, from somewhere deep inside. It’s startling, absurdly vivid, which is just about how […]

Die Wiener Festwochen

Die Wiener Festwochen

Restless souls who’ve “been there and done that” should consider sitting still at a different theatre every single night during the upcoming Wiener Festwochen from 11 May to 17 June. Life, in the form of theatre, dance, installation and performance – duly sur-titled when necessary – will come to you from all over the planet. […]

Telescope & Mirror to the Self

The Wiener Festwochen, running from  May 13th to June 19th, really do deliver on their promise: they bring world-class contemporary theater to the city, dressed up in a hip marketing strategy. The ticketing staff and audience are “radical chic”. We can all feel part of a cosmopolitan, artistic avant-garde, at least for an evening. Fittingly, […]

The Mysterious Creature ‘Lulu’

Who or what is LULU? Is she a courtesan? A cheap whore? A calculating hussy? A brazen murderer? Maybe a frigid wife who can only abandon herself to a sex killer? Someone unable to have a relationship or to love? Or maybe even a lesbian? What’s most important? To do business, have social status or […]

Castorf Does Chekhov

Will Frank Castorf  lie down with Chekhov before you lie down with Frank Castorf? The Berliner Volksbühne’s star director dropped by Festwochenville Jun. 11-13 with his Nach Moskau, Nach Moskau, a four-hour Russian-commissioned paroxysm cut wildly against the usual Chekhovian grain, where the Three Sisters is fitfully interspersed with Chekhov’s peasant story “Muzhiki.” Some chortled; […]

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