The Tiroler Volksschauspiele in Telfs are an annual instance of the theater scene in the alpine country. The this year's program refers to the deepest roots of Volksschauspiele and yet is more up-to-date than ever. As usual, everything revolves around folk theater, the collaboration of professionals and amateurs, and special theater venues.
How it all began ..
The Tiroler Volksschauspiele were founded in 1981 by Kurt Weinzierl, Dietmar Schönherr, Otto Grünmandl and Josef Kuderna. They pursued the goal of giving new impulses to folk theater while offering the highest possible quality.
My generation knows names like these just now: Ruth Drexel, Hans Brenner, Julia Gschnitzer, Kurt Weinzierl, Dietmar Schönherr, Felix Mitterer and others more. All these names are inseparably connected with the Volksschauspielen (and only some of them also with the famous Piefke saga).
in 1981, the show still opened at the Hall venue: The first Tiroler Volksschauspiele showed „Die sieben Todsünden“ by Franz Kranewitter. For this, the one-act plays were staged by seven directors.
A scandal led to Telfs
The following year, the city of Hall refused the premiere of „Stigma“. The contemporary play by Felix Mitterer was rejected due to accusations of blasphemy. So the Schauspiele moved to Telfs - to stay there.
In the following years, the plays repeatedly struggled for financial survival, until finally the municipality, the state and the federal government secured the funding permanently.
Remarkable theater with a mission
From then on, the eager theater personalities of Volksschauspiele gathered greats of the German-speaking theater and directing scene in Telfs every year. Hans Brenner (chairman 1985-1998) and Ruth Drexel (chairman 1998-2009) made a particular mark on Tiroler Volksschauspiele. Drexel's artistic goal was, To establish folk theater as an instrument for critical examination of lived reality - clever, sharp and entertaining, but understandable regardless of educational background. What a wonderful goal and great mission!
Markus Völlenklee headed Volksschauspiele until 2019, when he was succeeded by Christoph Nix and Gregor Bloéb (2022) as artistic directors. Since 2019, the Tiroler Volksschauspiele have been a limited liability company owned by the market town of Telfs, and the managing director is Verena Covi.
In a Podcast verena Covi reveals that she would like to make the Tiroler Volksschauspiele would like to make in the German-speaking area still more well-known. She would like to see the Volksschauspiele mentioned in the same breath as the big summer stages in Salzburg and Bregenz. And Telfs. An ambitious goal, but perhaps it is within reach ..
Special theater locations
In 2023, plays will also be staged at a new location: on the Birkenberg. But staging plays in unusual places has a long tradition in Telfs. „Stigma“ was shown in 1982 in the ruins of the old town hall hall, other venues have included a desolate factory building, the summit of the Hohe Munde, a forest clearing, the pool of the indoor swimming pool, the demolished houses of the Südtiroler-Siedlung or the Kranewitterstadl.
For this year's program, the Birkenberg will be adapted as a theater backdrop. The grandstand will not only offer space for around 500 people, but also a fantastic panorama over the Inn Valley and the mountains. The forecourt of the Mariahilf Chapel, meanwhile, will be designed by the Architectural collective columbosnext to create a foyer. In addition, the chapel will house an Exhibition of drawings by Arik Brauer will be on display.
Pieces and pieces
In any case, the pieces performed over the years prove the enormous versatility of Volkstheaters. Among them were and are many world premieres.
Besides the classics of Tiroler Volkstheaters by Kranewitter or Schönherr, Goethe, Schiller, Shakespeare and others could not be missing. Here is a selection of the classics at the Tiroler Volksschauspielen:
- Franz Kranewitter: Die sieben Todsünden, Andrä Hofer, Um Haus und Hof, Die Teufelsbraut
- Karl Schönherr: Der Weibsteufel, Frau Suitner, Erde, Maitanz, Der Judas von Tirol, Allerhand Kreuzköpf
- Jean-Paul Sartre: Geschlossene Gesellschaft
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Urfaust
- Friedrich Schiller: Die Räuber
- William Shakespeare: Hamlet, Wie es Euch gefällt
- Georg Büchner: Woyzeck
- Bert Brecht: Herr Puntila und sein Knecht Matti
- Johann Nestroy: Einen Jux will er sich machen, Der böse Geist Lumpazivagabundus
- Ferdinand Raimund: Der Alpenkönig und der Menschenfeind
In addition to the reinterpretation of classics, the Tiroler Volksschauspiele has from the beginning pursued the intention of also bringing contemporary plays by young authors to the stage. Felix Mitterer was continuously involved, and many of his plays were premiered in Telfs. The selection of contemporary plays includes, for example:
- Felix Mitterer: Stigma, Sibirien, Munde, Kein Platz für Idioten, Mein Ungeheuer, Gaismair, Die Beichte, 1809 – Mein bestes Jahr, Verkaufte Heimat
- Lothar Greger: Fleisch und Blut
- Luis Zagler: Vogelfrei
- Lida Winiewicz: Späte Gegend
- Franz Xaver Kroetz: Nicht Fisch nicht Fleisch
- Georg Ringsgwandl: Der Hund, der Hund
The complete chronological listing of the program of the Tiroler Volksschauspiele can be found here.
The 2023 program
The Tiroler Volksschauspiele 2023 will take place in Telfs from July 16 to August 19. The program includes not only unique theatrical treats, but also a big opening as well as closing party.
Seven new pieces in one - the main piece at Birkenberg
42 years ago the Tiroler Volksschauspiele were „Die sieben Todsünden“ by Franz Kranewitter. This year, these deadly sins will be reinterpreted and brought to the stage once again. For this, authors of different generations and genres were invited to rewrite the texts about these sins for our time. The result is seven exciting short plays. Artistic director Gregor Bloéb announces a "sensual, thought-provoking, furiously funny open-air spectacle with live music and opulent images".
Both the names of the authors and the ensemble are top-class: Nestroy Prize winner Lisa Wentz takes on Zorn, Helena Adler writes about inertia, while Calle Fuhr from Volkstheater Wien deals with pride. Avarice becomes a topic for Felix Mitterer and meanwhile the renowned screenwriter Uli Brée indulges in gluttony. The choreographer Marie Stockhausen works on envy, she will also dance herself. A short story by David Schalko will also be adapted as a piece about lust. Finally, the prologue and epilogue come from the pens of filmmaker Hubert Sauper and Johannes Schmidl.
The "top ensemble, which is unparalleled" (quote Gregor Bloéb) includes Gerti Drassl, Olivia Grigolli, Lisa Hörtnagl, Marlene Market, Iris Schmid, Bernhard Bettermann, Klaus Rohrmoser, Gerald Votava, Heinz Weixelbraun and others more. Gregor Bloébdirects himself, and Florian Hirsch takes care of the dramaturgy. The stage design is by Volker Hintermeier and the music by Matthias Jakisic.
To me, that sounds like a real theater highlight this summer! The premiere of the „7 Todsünden“ on July 20, 2023, which was also the world premiere, was quickly sold out, by the way. Tickets theater fans should therefore best secure immediately.
Seven Cardinal Virtues - Nine Tyrolean Folk Stages - A Spectacle in the Town Hall Hall
In cooperation with the Tyrolean Theater Association and with nine folk theaters from all over the country, a specially written "counterpart" to the „7 Todsünden“ is also being created. Initially, the seven cardinal virtues were the historical counterpart to the deadly sins, and they were meant to be commandments of conduct. Faith, love, hope, prudence, fortitude, wisdom and justice are preached, but often the exact opposite is lived. The „Narrentanz“ shows on the one hand everyday situations from the year 1500 and on the other hand the creeping power play of the virtues.
Thomas Gassner from Theaterverband Tirol, known through various productions, but most probably as a third of the Feinripp-Ensemble, dances this fool dance of the special kind with nine people stages from Tirol. To this multicolored troop belong Theater Humiste (Imst), the theatermåcher (Fügen/Fügenberg), diebühne (Kirchberg), Theater without Pölz (Schwaz), Tupilak Figure Theater, Theaterauflauf East Tyrol, Innsbruck Knight's Games, Fritzens Folk Stage and s'theata Niederndorf.
The Volksschauspiele will thus more than live up to its legendary reputation as the cradle of folk theater in Tyrol. After all, about 50 actors and actresses from folk theaters from all over the country will be on stage for this play. The individual theater associations are already rehearsing diligently, in each case in close coordination with Thomas Gassner. Soon, in joint rehearsals of all the participants, the sequences will be „Narrentanz“ and finally presented to the audience.
The logistics alone for a project of this dimension are impressive. In this case, too, I am extremely excited about the result ... Just as is the case with „Todsünden“: Tickets should be purchased in good time.
So, the anticipation of the theater summer is - at least for me - huge.
Other program highlights
Around the stage plays of the Tiroler Volksschauspiele there will be, for example, a "Lieblingslieder"talk show by Marc Hess and Frajo Köhle. To this „Schpeschl Edischn“ prominent guests such as Sybille Brunner, Leopold Baumberger and Toni Innauer will be welcomed.
A special program item is also the Marathon reading from Elfriede Jelinek's private novel „Neid“. Krista Posch, Carmen Gratl, Ute Heidorn, Lisa Hörtnagl, Brigitte Jaufenthaler, Marlene Markt, Lisa Schrammel, Janine Wegener, Tobias Moretti, Bernhard Bettermann, Nik Neureiter, Johann Nikolussi, Klaus Rohrmoser and Harald Windisch will read for an incredible seven hours from the work of the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
There will also be a panel discussion on the topic "Art its freedom?" will take place. And finally, the Jungen Tiroler Volksschauspiele with "#be_together" will present seven visions for a better future.
The complete program of Tiroler Volksschauspiele is available online.
In fact, my last visit to the Volksschauspielen in Telfs was way too long ago. It is high time! I am looking forward to life on stage with virtues, sins and everything that goes with it. Come along!
Finally, I would like to thank the Tiroler Volksschauspielen and Christine Frei for their friendly cooperation.
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A Tyrolean girl, graphic designer, blogger and tour guide with a variety of interests and a weakness for nice people, culture, starry night skies, one more beer and the mountains.