Die Wiener Festwochen

Big names and big nights: theatre, dance & performance, one luxurious night at a time

On The Town | Peter Quince | May 2012

The Master and Margarita (Photo: Bohumil Kostohryz)

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.

The Festwochen’s artistic director, Luc Bondy, has been a paragon of performing arts festivals since 1951, and staying power has helped it steer clear of gimmicks and hype.

For English speakers, there’s Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita (directed by Simon McBurney) and Ganesh Versus the Third Reich (where handicapped performers reclaim the swastika for India from the Nazis). Botho Strauß’ Big and Small with Austrailian actress Cate Blanchett, and the Luca Francesconi opera Quartett (based on Dangerous Liaisons) are both in English.

Also several polyglot pieces: Simon Stephens’ Three Kingdoms; the performance pieces Österreicher Integriert Euch! from God’s Entertainment; Oleg Soulimenko’s Made in Austria; Institutet’s Conte d’Amour; Constanza Macras’ dance theatre piece Open for Everything; and Seen at Secundrabagh, by the Indian Raqs Media Collective.

In touring theatre, communication can actually be heightened: When performers know they’re only docking once in each port, they almost become little messiahs. The Festwochen program this year offers not only artistic quality but true "diversity", without the harmony politicians always try to sneak in.

Theatre is always comparison, and when you experience actors from four different continents, you might compare without judging – the greatest artistic luxury an audience can attain.


See May 2012 TVR, Special Events, page 23, and www.festwochen.at

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