Stagecraft in Classroom

During 27 years of touring for Vienna's English Theatre throughout Austria, I have always had especially enjoyed coming to Villach. This may in part be due to the fact that I first visited Villach and the Faakersee in 1953, when I first spent a holiday here; at that time Villach was still a part of the British Occupational Zone. It is certainly due to the fact that during these years we from the theatre have received such a warm welcome and such professional support from, during the first years, Prof Hans Joas and, subsequently, from Prof. Heidi Koschutnig.

After an afternoon spent with English teachers at the Perau Gymnasium last November, I was therefore delighted at the prospect of three days of workshops here at the end of the school year. After 160 theatre workshops in schools of all types, for all age groups, all over Austria, this seemed a fine way to end the year.

And so it turned out. For all my experience I can never guarantee that I am going to be able to establish the necessary rapport with the pupils so as to spend a creative four hours with them, performing a play in English - especially on a hot afternoon when the great outdoors beckons tantalisingly. I needn't have worried: thanks to careful preparation and motivation on the part of their teachers, the 2.C under Prof. Michitsch and Prof Altenhuber, the 7.B under Prof. Huditz, the 4.B under Prof. Meinusch and Prof. Michitsch, the 2.B and 2.D under Prof. Gaggl and Prof. Koschutnig as well as the 4.F under Prof. Gaggl and Prof. Meinusch entered into the spirit of the occassion from the word go.

I think the participants would agree with me that we had enormous fun, with little stress, experiencing the importance of creativity, of communication, of team-work, as we explored the world of theatre and fantasy, stirring unsuspected acting talents in pupils of both sexes and all ages! Working in both languages - this being essential if we were to achieve any emotional involvement in what we were doing - each workshop culminated in a video of the play we had rehearsed. These videos are a valid document of hard, creative work.

This note affords me a welcome opportunity to thank all pupils and all teachers involved in this project, put together and co-ordinated by Prof. Heidi Koschutnig and also to say thank you to those present and past for 27 years of co-operation between BG&BRG Peraustraße and Vienna's English Theatre.

Nicholas Allen
Vienna's English Theatre

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