This October I was very lucky to be invited by Festival Director Dr. Olaf Bernstengel to perform my show at the 28th Internationale PuppenTheaterTage - Mistelbach about 40 miles from Vienna.
My wife (Dawn) and I took an early flight to Bratislava from Stansted on the Tuesday morning to get to Mistelbach with a day to spare before I had three Punch and Judy shows to perform on the Thursday.
We were met at the airport by a representative of the Puppet Theatre of Mistelbach and driven to our hotel via the Puppet Theatre to meet Dr Bernstegel. It took about an hour and a half to travel from Bratislava to Mistelbach, which is a very nice large town north of Vienna and right in the middle of wine region of Austria.
As was expected the Austrian hospitality has great, putting us in a wonderful 4 star hotel for the four nights myself and Dawn were to be their guests. The food and wine were great also.
The big day came and I went up to the magnificent puppet theatre ready to work and perform for the local people and fans of puppetry who seed to have come from all over Austria and Germany.
The theatre provided the necessary amplification, as it is not possible to take this with you when travelling by plane due to weight and electric equipment does look quite strange in your luggage, so in these days to heightened security is best not to carry this equipment but ask for it to be provided, which they nearly always will. I was then ready to begin. The Foyer of the theatre complex (this was my pitch for the day) started to fill up and there were many people milling around ready to be entertained.
The first show at a festival in a non-English speaking venue is always quite difficult as you have to gauge what to leave in and what to take out of your performance if it is to reliant on dialogue. I have been lucky enough to perform in a few different countries in Europe, but each is different and you have to take each as it comes. I did change my second and third show to reflect that the children were enjoying the movement and slapstick comedy but the script was a little lost on them. I got a great reaction to my performances and have even been booked by another festival for Vienna next year, which is always a nice way to finish off the visit.
My fellow performers on the day were Puppenbuhne Loser Giest with Kasper, Babkove Diadlo Anton Anderle with Circus Circus a large marionette show and several other performers who I did not get to see. Most were performing in German, so I think they had a slightly easier time of it than me.
Performing at these international festivals is a fantastic experience and privilege, however it is quite hard work with the travel and language barrier, but I hope to attend in future years back in Mistelbach and elsewhere in the World.
Tony "Robanti" Clarke