Vienna Theater I

You are here

Course Information
Terms offered: 
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

4 semesters (5 recommended) of college-level German, or proficiency in German acquired in other ways (bilingual family, etc).

Additional student cost: 

Approx. €25-40 for tickets and textbooks.


This course provides students with elementary knowledge about academic treatment of theatrical texts, both from the perspective of literature and drama, in a practical form, and further familiarizes students with Viennese theater life. The students’ understanding of theater texts in German, both classical and modern, and of modern performance practice is enhanced. Part of the class is organized in form of a workshop. In varying functions (acting, directing), students study, prepare, and then perform one or two short theatrical scenes towards the end of the semester. A positive side effect of the course is an improvement of the students’ German language skills.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, student are able to:

  • Discuss one of the most lively and sometimes also controversial segments of culture in Vienna from having visited theaters in Vienna
  • Analyze concepts of the theater usually lesser known in the U.S., such as “Regietheater”
  • Analyze the differences between theater in the U.S. and Europe
  • Speak more fluently in German by reading the texts and hearing actors perform the plays
Method of presentation: 

Lectures, Discussions, Theater Performances, Films of Historic Performances. Reports.

Field study: 

Optional, the German performance of a play by Shakespeare may be visited, e.g. Richard II or King Lear.

Required work and form of assessment: 

Students are expected to bring both physical and intellectual presence to the course. Grades are computed considering the following components:

  • Regular preparation and participation, including extra times such as performance visits - 10%
  • Oral reading reports and performance critiques (two each) - 15%
  • Written reading reports and performance critiques (two each) - 25%
  • Active engagement in the course’s workshop component - 25%
  • Final oral exam - 25%

The actual plays discussed in any given semester depend on the repertoire and playing schedule of theaters in Vienna and are introduced in the first week of classes. The following is a pattern that ideally will be used, but may vary due to performance dates in Viennese theaters.

Week 1
Introduction to terms and methods.
Introduction, reading and selection of performance workshop scene. Text reading and discussion: Ilse Aichinger: Fenster-Theater
Text discussion: play 1.

Week 2
Text discussion: play 1. Theater evening: play 1.

Week 3
Performance critique and discussion: play 1.
Workshop session 1.
Text discussion: play 2.

Week 4
Text discussion: play 2. Theater evening: play 2.

5th week
Performance critique and discussion: play 2.
Workshop session 2.
Text discussion: play 3.

6th week
Text discussion: play 3.
Theater evening: play 3.

7th week
Performance critique and discussion: play 3.
Workshop session 3.
Text discussion: play 4.

8th week
Text discussion: play 4.
Theater evening: play 4.

9th week:
Performance critique and discussion: play 4.
Workshop session 4.
Text discussion: play 5.

10th week
Text discussion: play 5.
Theater evening: play 5.

11th week:
Performance critique and discussion: play 5.
Workshop performance.

Required readings: 

(i.e., texts of plays to be studied): 5 dramas will be read and seen every semester, which ones entirely depends on plays showing and performance dates in Viennese theaters. Ideally, the texts will include: 2-3 plays from the Germans classics and Viennese Volkstheater and 2-3 20th century and contemporary texts. Also, the range of theaters should ideally reflect the vast variety of theatrical stages in Vienna, from the famous Burgtheater to a typical “Kellertheater”.

It is guaranteed that the selection of plays will not be repeated in Theater in Vienna 1 and 2. Therefore, this course is available to full year students in both semesters.

Reading for the Workshop Component:
Arthur Schnitzler: Reigen (Excerpts) or Anatol (Excerpts)


Example of Reading List (for Fall, 2010, in order of author’s age)

Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Faust I (Burgtheater)

Johann Nepomuk Nestroy: Umsonst (Volkstheater)

?d?n von Horv?th: Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald (Akademietheater)

Peter Turrini: Aus Liebe (Theater in der Josefstadt)

Inge Lausund: Zuhause (Theater in der Drachengasse)