Austrian Theatre Online: A survey of websites relating to Austrian Theatre
Dr. DEBORAH HOLMES
Among the sites currently accessible on the internet dealing specifically with
Austrian theatre, one in particular is aimed at researchers and is outstanding in
its detail. THEADOK (http://mitteilungsblatt.univie.ac.at/basisdbdocs/theadok/) is a database of play premieres performed in Austrian theatres which has been produced in co-operation by the Theatre, Film and Media Studies department at Vienna University and the Viennese Society for Theatre Research (Wiener Gesellschaft für Theaterforschung, no website). Begun in 1988, it documents all Austrian premieres since 1945 including guest performances. It also features selected theatre reviews which can be researched on the site and then ordered by e-mail. The site’s main virtue is its wide range of search terms; plays can be looked up according to their venue, place, time, content, author, director, assistant director, translator, costume designer, genre, stage music, actors and so on ,in an almost bewildering variety of categories. A planned section with online texts of the plays is not yet functional.
Online texts of Austrian stage works can be found listed by author at
http://www.gutenberg.de/. Facsimile copies of rare and first editions of Austrian plays are available on the ‘alo - Austrian literature on line’ website (http://www.literature.at). At the moment, this site contains only books and journals, but its creators plan to include digitalised manuscripts, pictures, newspapers and other documents, so it is a space well worth watching. It is produced in cooperation by the university libraries of Innsbruck and Graz and the computer departments at Linz and Vienna Technical University. The facsimiles available are ordered either according to genre or to regional origin; unsurprisingly given the participating universities, two of the main categories are ‘Styriaca’ and ‘Tirolensien’. Although the project is not yet fully developed, and the selection of texts is idiosyncratic to say the least, the site is very easy and pleasant to use. Theatre-specific texts include the collected works of Grillparzer in the
1909-41 Gerlach & Wiedling edition and plays by Robert Hamerling and Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Other potentially interesting texts include a selection of nineteenth century Southern German and Bavarian dictionaries and works on Austria’s relations with the Balkans.
The homepage of the Austrian Theatre Museum (
http://www.theatermuseum.at) is only really relevant to those preparing to
visit Austria in person as far as research purposes are concerned. The site covers
the history of the museum and its various collections which include Nachlässe,
play bills, posters and programmes as well as props, costumes and actor memorabilia.
The museum was founded in 1991 to give the theatre collection of the Austrian National
Library a more satisfactory home. The original collection [built around the estate of
Hugo Thimig -R.P.] was officially begun in 1922 but dates back in parts to the Baroque era,
meaning that the museum affords an overview of at least three hundred years of Austrian
theatre history. The website includes a list of the Nachlässe available at the
Theatre Museum (http://www.theatermuseum.at/flash/page/sammlung/autogra/index.htm). Somewhat confusingly, the other printed sources available at the museum are not catalogued on its homepage in any way, nor does the homepage explain clearly where such a catalogue might be found. To search virtually amongst the remaining documents (including the museum’s large library of secondary literature on theatre), the prospective visitor must consult the Austrian National Library’s online catalogue (http://www.onb.ac.at). Here, the shelfmark ‘Th’ or ‘The’ indicates books and documents to be found in the Theatre Museum.
A list of other Austrian theatre collections, archives and their contact details can be found at http://www.theatrelibrary.org/sibmas/sibmas.html. This is the homepage of
SIBMAS, the International Association of Libraries and Museums of the Performing Arts, invaluable for theatre research around the world.
The ‘Literaturhaus’ in Vienna includes a section of theatre reviews on its homepage,
Reviews from the German-speaking press since 1997 are freely available for consultation
online: earlier reviews are catalogued on the site and can be ordered. Another extremely
interesting collection of press cuttings and reviews can be found on the homepage of the
Jewish Theatre of Austria (http://www.jta.at).
This recently founded enterprise is aimed primarily at performance rather than research or
documentation, but the struggles recorded on the homepage and the theatre’s programme past
and future provide a vivid picture of the recent ups and downs of Austrian Jewish culture.
Several of the many homepages dedicated to individual Austrian playwrights are also
worth consulting from a research point of view. The website of the ‘Arthur Schnitzler
) includes a selection of academic articles, as well as listing upcoming Schnitzler
events and useful literary links. The ‘Internationales Nestroy Zentrum Schwechat’ has a
vast and extremely helpful website (
http://www.nestroy.at) which includes summaries of the plays, bibliographical
material, and sources on performances. A section of the website providing the complete
texts of Nestroy plays online is currently being constructed, and in the meantime, the
site gives links to Nestroy’s biography and works as supplied by the Projekt Gutenberg.
Elfriede Jelinek’s homepage is no less detailed, but completely different in style,
offering a personal and up-to-date window onto the playwright’s works and views (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/elfriede). It is easy to use, being clearly divided either into thematic sections (art, politics, society, Austria) or according to genre (‘zum Theater’, ‘zum Kino’). It offers a huge wealth of texts, either by or on Jelinek, including theatre reviews and interviews. Many of the texts by Jelinek have not been published elsewhere; this even applies to several of the selection of short theatre texts available, see for example, ‘unruhiges Wohnen’ or ‘Ich liebe Österreich’. The theatre texts also include the famous ‘Haider-Monolog’ (Das Lebewohl) performed after Jelinek had left Austria in protest at the coalition government in February 2000. The section ‘Fotoalbum’ includes pictures from performances of her plays. Some of the articles available have been translated into English (see for example ‘about Brecht’ in the section ‘Texte zum Theater’). Jelinek’s comments on contemporary Austrian theatre and culture make the website a generally fascinating, although of course politically biased, introduction to the role of theatre and the arts in Austria today, above and beyond the person of Jelinek herself.
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