Publixtheatre Caravan

The Publixtheatre Caravan is the English name for a travelling project of the Volxtheater, a Vienna-based international theatrical troupe that has been creating site-specific theatrical interventions in public space as well as stage-based performances since 1994. It is a political and artistic project that is part of the No Border Network and the Platform for a World Without Racism. It creates critical performance theatre that targets racism, borders, migration control, biometric data collection, and other forms of social control.

Since May 2001, the Publixtheatre Caravan has been creating international travelling informational, media, and artistic campaigns, to squat reality by directly interposing theater and artistic installations into everyday life.

After its participation in protests during the G8 summit in Genoa, 2001, the caravan was arrested in Italy. The 25 activists, journalists, and hitchhikers who were arrested there were physically and mentally abused by police and then spent the next 3-4 weeks in the Voghera and Alessandria prisons in Italy before being deported and banned from re-entry. They were accused of being members of a "criminal organization" that Italian authorities gave the name of the "black bloc" whose imputed goal was said to be "devastation and looting". They currently await trial on charges of property destruction, looting, and criminal association: mafia charges with penalties of five to fifteen years each. The police evidence against them included their possession of black clothing, cooking utensils they had used to create a mobile kitchen for free food distribution in the street, as well as juggling clubs, poi, and other theatrical props.

The Volxtheater Favoriten is based out of the Ernst Kirchweger House (EKH), the former headquarters of the Austrian Communist Party in Vienna, a legalized squat that hosts migrants and refugees, community activities, and political groups. The Volxtheater has no permanent cast. There are no directors; the plays are developed communally during long discussions, with great disparity of views. In 2003, the Austrian Communist Party sold the EKH and is currently preparing to evict the residents, who have been legally occupying this house for over 13 years. (See external links the EKH solidarity page (, the English-language EKH homepage (, and a report on the eviction in Z Magazine (

The first production was a version of Bertolt Brecht's "The Threepenny Opera" (autumn 1994 and September 1995), followed by the Greek play "Penthesilea" (March 1996), "We can't pay? We won't pay" (June-November 1996, "Chor der Werkstätigen und Nichtwerkstätigen" (Chorus of the Working and the Not Working) (Winter 1996), "EKHberet" (January 1997) "Theatercollagen" (Theatre Collages) (March 28th and 29th 1997), "Der Auftrag" (The Commission) (May/June and October 1997) and "Schluss mit Lustig" (No More Joking) (December 1999). "Schluss mit Lustig" was developed in reaction to the rise to power of Austria's extreme right-wing Freedom Party, and premiered in the Vienna Schauspielhaus.

Since November 2002, the Caravan has been producing full-length video and musical performance play based on the book, "Bukaka Spat Here," by Alexander Brenner and Barbara Schurz.

In addition to full-length plays, the Volxtheater sees itself as an actionist group provoking political responsibility and moral courage by artistically intervening - spontaneously or planned - in public space, via street theatre and "guerrilla fun".

A few of the street theatre actions of the Volxtheater include: crossing the Danube channel (spring 1995), army parade (october 26th 1995), matamorphile hexaphonium (spring 1996), demonstration against the government's cuts on social payment (april 1996), street theatre during trials against people who signed an appeal to refuse to obey orders in the army (fete of Bewegung Rotes Wien in June 1996) Krems: performance of the play "We can't pay? We won't pay!" on the street (July 1996), "Auf zur großen Grenzschutzaktion" (Let's Go for the Big Frontier Protection Action) (April 26th 1997). "Spendenaufruf für die europäische Sicherheit" (Call for Charity for European Safety) on the army parade (October 26th 1999).

In summer 2000 the idea emerged to form a caravan to advance the political actionism of the Publix Theatre. As a part of the "cultural caravan through Carinthia and Styria", that held cultural events in villages and small towns in Carinthia and Styria and international resistance days in Klagenfurt, the caravan moved through Austria. The aim was to combine theatrical actions and information campaigns with a mobile infoshop and video and sculptural installations. The caravan left monuments with the inscription "no border no nation - for an open carinthia, for an open europe" in its wake. The Publixtheatre caravans of 2001, 2002 and 2003 took this idea to an international level. Creating public theatrical interventions while dressed as UNO soldiers, police, border guards, and biometric researchers, the Publixtheatre has always provoked confusion as to whether they represent fiction or reality.

Here is a quotation from Hubsi Kramar, an author, director and actor who has worked with the Publixtheatre:

Two stages mark publix theatre:
1) The contemporary avantguardistic theatre group in the EKH, where publix theatre created successful projects such as The Threepenny Opera, Penthesilea, "Der Auftrag (the commission)" (Heiner Müller) and Dario Fo's "We won't pay! We won't pay!". The PUBLIX THEATRE IS A MOST POLITICALLY AWARE AND SOCIOCRITICAL artists group that has been rather successful in a very short period of time, with a growing audience. They gained mostly young people as an audience for theatre. They were so successful that a few members were engaged by other renowned theatres like Burgtheater - director Einar Schleef in "Sportstück", the Schauspielhaus and others.
2nd stage:
Their political awareness was such that they - according to the principles of SITE SPECIFIC Theatre - left the usual performing areas to give their theatrical answers in public space, at varying places, address themselves at a public audience and give an theatrical answer to the problems of globalisation with the help of theatrical means and ideas with the international, frontier crossing PUBLIX THEATRE - NO BORDER TOUR. Glorification of violence was never their message SITE SPECIFIC theatre has grown during the last years and become a broad international theatre movement. It essentially involves staging theatrical actions in ever-varying locations, such as abandoned docks or public places, as required by their contents.
It's a frontier crossing form of theatre throughout. The performers are all kinds of artists, in accordance with the statement that shall be made. There are actors and actresses from all walks of life, jugglers, singers, acrobats, barkers, pantomimists and so on...
As it is necessary in such groups to act on limited means creativity in all fields, such as stage and costumes, is most important. The results and effects are amazing. Globalization does revolutionize the theatrical sector as well.
I myself saw the Threepenny Opera und was carried away, by the mise en scene as well as the artistic presentation. Dramaturgy, musical realization, actors and actresses, stage, costumes, it really was a great success, by a very young unknown ensemble.
With the most minimalist means the publix theatre realized this extensive play in a way that impressed me very much. The audience was electrified, for hours afterwards most of the audience stayed on and sang and danced to the live music of the ensemble, the music of the Threepenny Opera. It was a FUN-FAIR. This performance of the Threepenny Opera by publix theatre is one of the most beautiful theatre experiences of my not too short theatre life."

See also spass guerilla, guerrilla communication, culture jamming, No Border Network, black bloc Anti-Globalization Movement

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