Despite being one of Europe’s international arts festivals, the Wiener Festwochen (Vienna Festival Weeks) has suffered from inconsistency in its programming in the last few years due to factors like the resignations of programmers and artistic directors. From this year, however, the festival welcomes as its new artistic director for the next six years Christophe Slagmuylder, who has long lead the Kunsten Festival des Arts. Though originally he was scheduled to begin his directorship in 2020, attention has focused on what is for this festival the unprecedented quickness with which a program of more than 40 artists has been put together for this year.
Slagmuylder has said that he would not set a unified these for the festival. But he also says that due to his own convictions he has gathered works that are intended to serve as an “antidote” to help alleviate the bipolarization of societies like Austria’s by challenging self-contained blind acceptance of the status quo and breaking down the mindset of dualistic populism. And he also says that he wants to take not a short-term vision but a long-term one toward helping to make Vienna an open, international city.
Although details of opening performances were not been announced earlier, it was said to be an event to be held in the Donaustadt district of Vienna and planned as a participation-type project to bring in the people of the local community with special creations. Also, as evidence of Slagmuylder’s ample network, the program brings together a long list of artists who lead the international theater scene, like Angélica Liddel, Krystian Lupa, Milo Rau, Markus öhrn, Mariano Pensotti, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Marcelo Evelin, François Chaignaud and others.
From Japan, Toshiki Okada has been invited with a re-created production of Five Days in March
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. In 2011, Luc Bondy became to festival’s overall director, Stephanie Carp the theatre director and Stéphane Lissner the music director and 45 productions from 23 countries drew a total audience of 180,000. From Japan, artists including potudo-ru and Akira Takayama have participated in the past.