The theater: a large part of Vienna
In no other city in the world are actors and actresses given honorary titles, but in Vienna they’re addressed as Herr und Frau Burgschauspieler (Mr. and Mrs. Burgtheater-Actor). Vienna theatre, and especially the Burgtheater, affectionately known as “die Burg” (“the castle”), is almost like a lover to many Viennese. They know the repertoire, they know who is directing, they know who’s treading the hallowed boards. They grumble about the theatre direction and praise the supporting cast. They shake their heads sufferingly or nod approvingly at the mention of the latest production. They’re proud if they happen to see Herr und Frau Burgschauspieler in a café, on a tram, or at the table next to them in a restaurant. Vienna loves and lives the theatre.
“In Vienna you have to be a choirboy, a Lipizzaner horse, or an actor in the Burgtheater.” The Austrian cabaret performer, actor and author Helmut Qualtinger on the jester’s freedom and devoted admiration accorded to actors in Vienna.
But the Burg and its four locations aren’t the only theatres in the city; there’s also Vienna’s oldest and longest-playing theatre, the Theater in der Josefstadt. As well, there are the Kammerspiele (“intimate theatre”), famous for its comedies, and the Volkstheater (the “civic counterpart” to the Burgtheater) , which stages both classics and contemporary plays. Independent theatre finds a stage at the Schauspielhaus, Garage X, the Rabenhof Theater and the Theater Drachengasse.
Whether it be a box or standing room, as a season-ticket-holder or casual theatre-goer, in large or small venues, the people of Vienna are true theatre-fans. Every spring audiences’ hearts beat a little faster when the “Wiener Festwochen” (Vienna festival) brings international, contemporary and innovative productions to the city’s stages. 180,000 people every year visit the events of the Wiener Festwochen – among them, of course, the respected Herren und Frauen Burgschauspieler. You’re pleased to see them in the foyer or the stands, and nod amicably – after all, you’re almost friends.
Text: Nina Lucia Groß, Fotos: Christine Wurnig, Bild Theatersaal: Wien Tourismus/Wolfgang Simlinger