10 small Vienna theatres to squeeze some culture in before summer hits - Vienna Würstelstand

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10 small Vienna theatres to squeeze some culture in before summer hits

The theatre scene in Vienna is alive and well, but when talking theatre in this city, most people think of the big, old, fancy theatre houses like the Burgtheater.  Don’t get us wrong, we love these grand old places, but there’s so much more to Vienna’s theatre scene.

Vienna’s got plenty of small theatres offering diverse programmes full of brilliant and creative stuff happening on their stage. And many of them regularly host productions in English.

We’ve had a closer look at the local theatres off the beaten (theatre) path. Here’s our list of 10 small, but exciting theatres you should check out once in Vienna.

Ateliertheater – small theatres in Vienna

When you enter the Ateliertheater for the first time, you’ll likely to have a Wow moment for a brief second. To do justice to the name, this very dark, black-walled theatre is part cosy little theatre, part chic bar and part art gallery. So a space where a lot of culture and drinks are consumed. It was established in 1932, and moved locations several times until it settled at its current location, which was once one of Vienna’s first movie theatres to open. The Ateliertheater’s home is now in unique theater space in Vienna’s Bobostan aka. 7th district, in which around 100 people can fit.

The small and lovely team behind this theatre are on a mission to create an open space for everyone, a place where you can meet and hang out with like-minded culture vultures, and create valuable experiences and connections with others. The Ateliertheater hosts a number of small self-produced performances, but also has guest plays gracing its stage. Everything is possible at this location. They also have a focus on LGBTQ+ and feminist topics, but not exclusively. They want to give young performers a place to experiment and show what they’ve got. Check out their programme, here.

Good to know… you’ll find performances in various languages happening here.

Odeon Theater – small theatres in Vienna

Established in 1988, the Odeon theatre was named after the Ancient Greek word ‘Odeon’ which refers to buildings built for music, just like many well-known ancient theatres around Europe. Located in the 2nd district, this theatre’s stage is home to the former Great Hall of the Stock exchange for agricultural products. Yep, who would have thought!

This room was built in the 1880s and was heavily damaged by a fire during the Second World War. Charred parts of the interior and walls were kept intentionally to give the Odeon a special vibe and keep its history for its 300 potential visitors. What makes it even more special is the fact that they hardly ever work with anything but original productions. Instead, they create unique plays together in the in-house ensemble, with lots of freestyle improvisation and co-creation happening during rehearsals. Instead of focusing on words, the very international crew of the theatre ensemble, Serapions Ensemble, performs what they call, ‘visual poetry.’ Meaning the actors express themselves through movement and body language. This makes every performance universally understandable, making this a theatre for anyone and everyone. Check out the program, here.

© www.englishtheatre.at

© www.englishtheatre.at

© www.englishtheatre.at

Vienna’s English Theater – small theatres in Vienna

Vienna’s English Theatre claims to be the most distinguished and oldest English-language theatre in continental Europe. Those are big shoes to be filling, but hey, we call ourselves the most talented ping pong champions in our office block so we guess it’s kind of the same. It was founded in the 60s as a summer theatre for tourists, and found a permanent home in Josefsgasse in the 8th district a little over 10 years later. They also have their own academy, VETA, where they offer a two-year actor training programme. Besides their theatre in Vienna, the ensemble is also touring Austria with their School Tour programme, performing in front of school kids.

Check out the Vienna’s English Theatre program, here. 

Schauspielhaus – small theatres in Vienna

The location of the Schauspielhaus has its own long history. It started out as a theater hosting Vaudeville performances, before it was transformed into one of the first movie theatres of Vienna, which became known as the ‘Heimat-Kino’. Only in 1978, a theatre took roots here. Over the years, it became what it is today: a place for contemporary theatre performances. With a very progressive mindset, the young crew at Schauspielhaus is constantly trying out and developing new things for the stage. A total of 200 people can fit into the Schauspielhaus, while they also have a small stage. They also have a bar in the “Nachbarhaus,” which is annexed to the theatre.

‘The English Monday’  event series –happening on a bi-monthly basis – is a show initiated by one of the members of the very young theatre crew. On a somewhat regular basis, Jesse invites either comedians, actors, authors, performers, or musicians to take to the stage. So it’s different every time, and only the host stays the same.

English-speaking productions are also not uncommon at Schauspielhaus, while many of the performances in German include English subtitles. Bright yellow walls and unique artwork lead the way to the theatre’s downstairs space where the magic happens.

Check out the programme, here.

Rabenhof Theater – small theatres in Vienna

The Rabenhof Theatre in Vienna’s third district is a favourite of many. Off the beaten theatre track (both in location and what they’re all about) the Rabenhof dares to venture into the unknown with the formats it puts up on stage. Located in a state housing apartment building, the theatre used to be part of Theater in der Josefstadt in the 90s and became an independent theatre venue in 2000. At Rabenhof Theater, you’ll find all sorts happening on stage: contemporary urban folk theatre with a pop-cultural approach, cabaret artists turned actors, Schlager musicians become stage musicians, authors giving colourful readings. If they do happen to run one of the theatre classics, they’ll be sure to turn it around and mix it up.

You’ll also find more than ‘just’ plays happening there; with concerts, comedy shows and many new other performances finding their way onto the program. They also have English-speaking performances or shows, on occassion. Due to the programme’s versatility, the Rabenhof Theater has a very heterogeneous audience that differs from show to show.

Take a look at their mixed up program, here.

© Theater Drachengasse

© Theater Drachengasse

Theater Drachengasse – small theatres in Vienna

Theater Drachengasse is another small theatre hidden just off of the street, Fleischmarkt, in Vienna’s first district. It was brought to life by a women’s movement at the beginning of the 80s. Besides showing support for women, having a space for young theatre was (and still is) close to the theatre’s heart.

Hosting an annual youth competition, they help out young professionals with the core funding and attention they need to enter the scene. The Theater Drachengasse has two locations – one in Drachengasse itself, which is used for their in-house productions, and another is Bar&Co, which is a space used to showcase guest-productions and other shows. The audience of the theatre is as diverse as the programme.

The aim of Theater Drachengasse is to find a good balance between entertainment and difficult topics. They’re bringing contemporary theatre that is accessible for everybody onto the stage and they don’t shy away from controversial topics that are relevant and thought-provoking. Besides text-based plays, you’ll also find concerts and English plays there. Also, the talented Vienna-based Improv theatre group English Lovers, hosts regular English comedy and improv shows at Theater Drachengasse.

Check out the program, here.


© Yasmina Haddad

© Yasmina Haddad

WERK X – small theatres in Vienna

One of Vienna’s newest members to its theatre scene is WERK X. Newly founded in 2014, after merging two projects together, this theatre has its main location in a creative corner that used to be a factory, in a far corner of Meidling (fun fact: they even call themselves ‘Theater am Arsch der Welt’ on their Facebook page). Their more central location, WERK X-Eldorado, is located at Petersplatz in Vienna’s city center. WERK X wants to go beyond what the big theatres are offering their audiences. They like to experiment a little and push boundaries.

They offer politically engaged, and progressive artists a platform to express what they have to express about the big issues of the day. The concept of many of their plays is to update classical dialogue theatre, and question what has been done before. Modern influences and new perspectives break traditional theatre performances that most theatre-goers are used to. Plus, they also sometimes get in international productions. Check out the WERK X program, here.

Spektakel – small theatres in Vienna

Located in the 5th district, Spektakel has no permemant acting ensemble of it own, but instead plays host to many talented small indie outfits. It has to be one of the most versatile cultural spaces in the city. The theatre’S former life was as Kabarett Spektakel, a cabaret that entertained guests until it closed in 2009. Six years later, Spektakel was (re)opened and became the performance art theatre and café/ bar that it is today. The interior of the is very minimalistic and omits a relaxed atmosphere with its bright white walls and wooden tables in the cafe. You’ll find traditional theatre plays happening on its stage, alongwith improv & open mic comedy nights, poetry slams and karaoke nights. You can expect the unexpected when looking at its programme. In addition to a rather strong focus on literature readings, there’s also room made for visual arts. Literally. They have a showroom where they host bi-weekly-changing exhibitions. And during the day, Spektakel turns into a co-working space and a cafe, serving up food and drinks.

You can check their program, here.



Theater Spielraum – small theatres in Vienna

Theater Spielraum opened its doors in 2002 after the former Erika cinema underwent some major renovations. A small, charming foyer welcomes you into the theatre that’s located in the 7th district, close to Westbahnhof. As it lived it’s former life as a movie theatre, there’s still some old movie charm left, especially in the foyer. You may somehow get the urge to get yourself a coke and some popcorn to chew on during the performance. Their stage is flexible, which adds to the unusual theatre experience for the visitor.

Their aim is to showcase theatre plays that offer food for thought, and touch both the heart and mind of the audience. They devoted themselves to the discovery and rediscovery of sometimes classical dialogue-heavy theatre plays with socio-political content. With this devotion, they prove that even old pieces are still interesting and relevant in today’s age.  The Vienna-based English-language theatre group, Open House Theatre, are regular guests at Theater Spielraum. As a group of young professional actors who want to enrich Vienna’s English-language theatre scene, they bring on stage what they deem to be stories that are worth telling.

Check out their program, here.

Photo via facebook.com/TAGtheater

TAG – Theater an der Gumpendorfer Straße – small theatres in Vienna

The doors to TAG, Theater an der Gumendorfer Straße, opened in 2006. Since then, it has been putting theatre onto its stage that has won it awards, adoring reviews, and a strong loyal following. At TAG, they take existing classic plays and reinvent them to fit today’s culture and audience. Storytelling and playfulness are an integral part of this theatre. You’ll get to see a number of both in-house and guest productions. TAG is also famous for its improv theater, including its regular theatre series, ‘Sport vor Ort’, and its different take on the trending poetry slam, the TAGebuch Slam aka. diary slams, which sees a bunch of random people get on stage and read from their diary. This award-winning theater is definitely worth checking out. Check out their program, here.

Also good to know… A lot of the Impro theater happening at TAG is in English

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