The state of English-language live theatre in Vienna is and has historically been very strong indeed. As with most big cities, there is a profusion of impromptu, independent, and experimental theatrical productions playing at various times throughout the year in the Austrian capital, but the two main players are Vienna’s English Theatre (VET) and the International Theatre Vienna (IT). The former is the oldest and most established English-language theatre in continental Europe and the latter, while smaller and decidedly less prestigious, is well respected in theatrical circles and has been mounting full-scale productions since 1974.
To say that VET is a venerable artistic institution would be to understate things considerably. Founded in 1963 by the Austrian director Franz Schafranek and his American wife, Ruth Brinkmann, the company has produced world premieres by Tennessee Williams and others, as well as the 1991 world premiere of Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Three Tall Women, which was directed by the author and dedicated to Schafranek.
Numerous stars of stage and screen have graced the stages of VET’s various venues over the years, including Joan Fontaine, Anthony Quinn, Horst Buchholz, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, Princess Grace of Monaco, Dame Anna Neagle, Siobhan McKenna and Judi Dench as well as Jean-Louis Barrault, Jeanne Moreau and Jean-Paul Belmondo. VET’s current season includes plays by Marc Camoletti (May 21-July 4), John Morogiello (March 26-May 5), and Donald Margulies (January 30-March 10).
The IT has produced more than 100 plays since its inaugural season, as well as literature readings, lectures, workshops, play readings, and charity events. The company is currently performing An Inspector Calls (now through April 21), by J.B. Priestly.