Milo Rau Appointed New Artistic Director of the Wiener Festwochen


The decision has been made: Milo Rau is henceforth to be in charge of the Wiener Festwochen in his capacity as Artistic Director. He will take over the artistic direction of the Festival in July 2023, with a contract due to run for a term of five years.


(Wien, 27.01.2023) ‘I am very pleased that Milo Rau, one of Europe’s leading directors, will be shaping Vienna’s premier festival over the next few years. When it comes to theatre, Milo Rau is someone who knows how to inspire people,’ says Vienna’s City Councillor for Culture. ‘As a politically-minded artist, Milo Rau operates in various fields, from theatre to opera and film, and has excellent international connections. As a result, we now once again have a brilliant artistic personality at the helm of the Wiener Festwochen. Milo Rau was also a convincing choice since, in addition to his own exciting work, he possesses a keen sensitivity for the vast variety of international theatre languages and narrative forms. As a festival, the Wiener Festwochen are all about diversity, and I am certain that Milo Rau with his energy will generate the necessary appeal.’


‘I don’t know of any other city that is as ardent about theatre as Vienna is, and so I am incredibly excited about my new role,’ responded Milo Rau. ‘I can’t wait to continue the great tradition of the Wiener Festwochen and to create a mythical, powerful and controversial theatre festival. The Festwochen are to be a festival that involves everyone and is for everyone: a world theatre of many voices, formally diverse, passionate and unflinching. A festival for Vienna and for the world.’


Rudolf Scholten, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Wiener Festwochen: ‘Congratulations to Milo Rau! I am looking forward to his artistic direction and his programme with great anticipation. His ambition to engage with Vienna and to showcase a programme that reflects Vienna’s keen desire for theatre while stimulating social discourse whets the appetite. I believe that, under his direction, the Festwochen will not only draw audiences into the theatre but also into debates. Thus, the Festival will no doubt fully fulfil its role as a crucial aspect of the city’s artistic representation.’


About the selection process


Interest in the Wiener Festwochen has been and remains tremendous: following an international invitation, 36 applications were received and considered by the Appointment Committee. The Committee consisted of Karin Bergmann (former director of the Burgtheater, now at the Salzkammergut Festwochen Gmunden), Arne Forke (theatre consultant, office of the city councillor), Rudolf Scholten (chairman of the supervisory board of the Wiener Festwochen), Susanne Moser (artistic director and managing director of the Komische Oper Berlin), Matthias Pees (artistic director of the Berliner Festspiele) and Robert Dressler (head of the Performing Arts Department, Department for Cultural Affairs of the City of Vienna). Six applicants (all of them international, five male, one female) were subsequently invited to the interview stage, with four individual applications and one application as a team of two. The Appointment Committee assessed the excellent candidates and, after good discussions, proposed two candidates to Veronica Kaup-Hasler, in no particular order. The City Councillor for Culture then made the decision in favour of Milo Rau.


Milo Rau was born in Bern in 1977 and studied sociology, Romance languages and literature and German in Paris, Berlin and Zurich. Since 2002 he has produced over 50 plays, films, books and artistic initiatives. His productions have been shown at all major international festivals, including the Berlin Theatertreffen, the Festival d’Avignon, the Venice Theatre Biennale, the Wiener Festwochen and the Kunstenfestivaldesarts, and have toured more than 30 countries around the globe. Milo Rau, who has been awarded the European Theatre Prize, among others, has been Artistic Director of NTGent since 2018.


Christophe Slagmuylder remains in charge as Artistic Director of the Wiener Festwochen until 2023, with Milo Rau set to take charge of the 2024 festival edition.


About the Wiener Festwochen: The Wiener Festwochen are one of Europe’s most important interdisciplinary arts and culture festivals. Within Vienna’s cultural offering, the Festival has been presenting the hitherto unseen and unheard since 1951, combining theatre, dance, music, performance, the fine arts, and new art forms. The Festival commissions, initiates and accompanies artistic visions that are engaged with this time, in this world. With its premieres, in-house and co-productions it promotes Vienna’s reputation within the international cultural landscape in its capacity as Austria’s cultural ambassador.