The Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks) is held annually in May and June over the course of five weeks in the Austrian capital of Vienna. The stated mission of the festival is to select works of music, visual art and performing arts that hold a strong relevance to contemporary society, whilst adhering to the highest aesthetic standards. Tomas Zierhofer-Kin, who has taken over the directorship of the festival beginning last year, has offered the promise for a more accessible festival, stating, “My goal is to present not just art that attacks the local bourgeois, but art that extends a helping hand to many.”
This year the festival will feature 30 works, under the theme “Fragile Democracy,” focusing on works that contemplate such darker emotions as “anxiety” and “fear” as can be felt across the world today, as well as the impacts that they may have on individuals and on society. Larger featured productions include Tiefer Schweitzer: A Holding Center
, a work of music theater by Christoph Marthaler in which government officials carry out a “Kafka-esque” debate about an island on a lake that is being overrun by refugees, as well as a theater version of The Virgin Suicides
, adapted into film by Sophia Coppola approximately 20 years ago, by Suzan Kennedy, associate artist at the renewed Volksbühne in Berlin. Also to be featured is an exploration of social psychology created through a collaboration with 15 youths titled Crowd
, by choreographer Gisèle Vienne, who has also presented works frequently in Japan.
In their work Kamp
, the Hotel Modern Theater Company of Rotterdam creates a miniature of the Auschwitz concentration camp on stage. The work is contemplative in nature, with three performers using miniature figures on stage as they attempt to determine the causes of one of the world’s greatest atrocities, while simultaneously filming the figure-acting. Markus Öhrn will present the world premier of his work Domestic Violence Vienna
, based on the “Fritzl case,” in which Austrian Elisabeth Fritzl was confined to her father’s home and sexually abused by him for 24 years. Jean Michel Bruyère will be presenting his new work L’Habitude (Habit), inspired by the Black Panthers, integral players in the American Civil Rights movement. Finally from Asia, choreographer Ong Kensen, celebrated in his native Singapore, will present his collaborative work with actors of the National Theater Company of Korea in Trojan Women
This is an international festival held since 1951 each May and June in Vienna on the largest scale of any Austrian festival. The venues include the Museums Quartier, Theater an der Wien, Wiener Konzerthaus and the Schauspielhaus, as well as locations like markets and squares around the city, making virtually the entire city the festival’s stage. The programming features operas and performing arts from around the world with leading directors, conductors and orchestras providing the latest in performing arts, consisting of works in both classical styles and the newest productions, along with contemporary works in new staging. From Japan, artists including potudo-ru and Akira Takayama
have participated in the past.