Since German is the national language in Austria, you might think stage or screen entertainment could prove a little tricky for non-speakers. Not so.
- Many cinemas show English-language films
- The English Theatre has international productions
- The Burgtheater is the city’s showpiece theatre
- See also:
(The Haydn is probably Vienna’s most prominent English-language cinema)
Film fans in the city can choose from numerous movie theatres, ranging from giant multiplexes showing Hollywood blockbusters to small art cinemas. Around ten of these might be described as international English-language cinemas, regularly showing films in the original English (some only ever show English-language films).
The availability of movies in English benefits more than just the international community and tourists; young Viennese in particularly use these films to expand their language skills or to simply enjoy performances in the actors’ own voices (rather than dubbed into German).
Check daily newspapers for listings and look for “OV” next to a film (means the movie will be shown in its original language) or OmU (ditto with the addition of subtitles).
Vienna also hosts various film festivals throughout the year, including the prestigious Viennale. Many of these festivals feature English-language movies, documentaries, shorts, etc. or have subtitles in English.
(The Burgtheater national theatre)
With all the fuss about Vienna’s classical music, a longstanding reputation as a haven for theatergoers often slips past unnoticed. The problem for the visitor to Vienna, of course, is that nearly all theater productions are in German.
There is one notable exception, though.
Founded in 1963, Vienna’s English Theatre has the distinction of being the oldest of its kind in mainland Europe. Productions are in English, but it’s also featured French and Italian performances in the past.
Some of the world’s greatest acting talents appeared at the English Theatre, including Oscar-winners Judi Dench and Anthony Quinn, as well as the likes of Larry Hagman and Jean-Paul Belmondo.
The most famous of the German-language theatres is the Burgtheater, opposite city hall, which has a long and illustrious history.
Though the actors only speak in German (as befits what is essentially the national theatre), the Burgtheater Prompt app delivers English surtitles to your smartphone for selected performances.
Incidentally, Gustav Klimt painted some of the ceiling frescoes in the magnificent entrance halls of the Burg (as it’s known here). To see them, take one of the theatre’s tours.