Backstage at Theater in der Josefstadt Vienna

There are architectural highlights everywhere you look in Vienna, their interiors often open to the public and equally magnificent. But there are also innumerable fascinating places you didn’t even know existed. I got a chance to explore one of those at an Instagramers Vienna meet-up.

The Theater in der Josefstadt in the 8th district is the oldest still performing theater in the city. We met up on a cold evening before the performance of Professor Bernhardi and were given a backstage tour of the theater. My German isn’t great, so sadly I missed a ton of information, but it was an experience to remember nevertheless.

When I think of theater, my imagination steers towards red velvet curtains and plush seats. Dressing rooms where, with the aid of make-up and hair, new characters come to life every evening. What I never think of is what the tour revealed to us: the behind the scenes work.

We got a glimpse into several set design and costume workshops and discovered that the theater occupies a lot more space than the glamorous performance hall. In the set design area, the mundanity of dirty paint rollers contrasted with the vivacity of pigment-filled drawers. The workshop had a rough and industrial feel to them and you could easily forget you were inside a theater.

And then we reached the beautiful performance hall with its grand chandelier that promptly disappeared on us. We only got a few minutes there as the stage was busy with preparations for the performance. Then we checked out the dressing rooms, which looked like modern chain hotels.

I expected something more old-fashioned and dreamy, with wigs, old dog-eared photos and heaps of make-up randomly scattered on the table so as to from a perfect flatlay on a young actress’ Instagram profile.

The costume department was a treasure trove of haberdashery, accessories and fabrics. I wondered if the Louis Vuitton messenger bag dangling off a busy rack was authentic. Given the falsity of the stage world, it would be oddly fitting if it were a fake.

I was fascinated with the organization of accessories into boxes neatly labeled with color and style, which I will probably never achieve in my own closet.

Big thanks to Instagramers Vienna and Theater in der Josefstadt for the possibility to discover this magnificent place.


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