cabaret: H. Qualtinger and G. Bronner in "Hackl im Kreuz". Photo.
Kabarett (cabaret and revue) derived from the French cabaret: small restaurant, partitioned dish; in Austria, Kabarett refers to small theatres and special types of theatrical production consisting typically of a loosely connected mixture of sketches, songs and parodies, etc., introduced by an entertainer in what are called "conférences" presenting a satirical portrayal of political and social life.
The first revue theatre in Vienna was the "Nachtlicht" (later called the "Fledermaus"), founded by M. Delvard and M. Henry in 1906. (first revue theatre in Paris in 1881, in Berlin in 1901). In 1912 the revue theatre "Simplicissimus" was founded (later called "Simpl"). The Simpl was made famous by such outstanding entertainers as F. Grünbaum and K. Farkas and became a highly popular Viennese institution. In those days Austrian cabaret was characterized by a witty and light form of entertainment which rarely referred to topical political issues, the only exception being the cabaret "Die Hölle". It was not until the 1930s hat political cabaret became popular in Vienna. (In 1931 S. Kadmon founded the cabaret "Lieber Augustin"; other important revue theatres and cabarets of the 1930s were "Die Stachelbeeren" (1933-1936), "Literatur am Naschmarkt", "ABC" (1933 -1938). In 1938 all these cabarets were closed and most of the artistes and writers were imprisoned or had to emigrate. In the National Socialist era the "Wiener Werkel" was the only revue theatre that continued operating illegally up to 1944, with artistes like F. Eckhardt and K. Nachmann writing for the Wiener Werkel under a pseudonym.
Austrian postwar cabaret has been characterized by an interesting rivalry between the light and entertaining sketches of K. Farkas and the political cabarets of a group of revue artistes around G. Bronner and H. Qualtinger; other famous representatives of this new trend in cabaret were M. Kehlmann, G. Kreisler, L. Martini, C. Merz, P. Wehle. From 1961 onwards H. Qualtinger and C. Merz increasingly turned their attention to the writing of political satires; the satire "Der Herr Karl" is a mordant statement on Austria and its recent history. In the 1970s a new generation of revue artistes developed and the old forms of political sketches were abandoned and replaced by new ones. Cabaret became a form of entertainment in a much broader sense of the word, reaching from rock music ("Schmetterlinge") to music hall and variety entertainment (T. Küppers). The revue artistes no longer dealt exclusively with current political affairs but criticized the political system in general (L. Resetarits) or concentrated on grotesque and bizarre features of everyday life. (O. Grünmandl); recently, solo performances by revue artistes have become increasingly popular (H.-P. Heinzl, W. Schneyder, E. Steinhauer etc.).
In the early 1980s several new revue theatres and cabarets developed, resulting in a new boom in Austrian cabaret. Young revue artistes (G. Kaufmann, I. Stangl, A. Vitasek) went beyond the limits of traditional cabaret. Each of them cultivates an individual artistic style of his own but they all have one thing in common: they refuse to satirize political life and prefer to turn to people and their everyday problems (J. Hader, L. Lukas, Schlabarett, T. Maurer); A recent development in Austrian cabaret is that a number of films have been made by young Austrian revue artistes. ("Indien" by A. Dorfer and J. Hader, "Muttertag" by Schlabarett).
Literature: R. Weys, Cabaret und Kabarett in Wien, 1970; H. Veigl, Lachen im Keller. Kabarett und Kleinkunst in Wien, 1986; G. Promitzer, Das Kabarett im Spiegel einer Dekade 1951-1961, 1991; S. Hausberger, Denn nahe, viel näher, als ihr es begreift. Die literarische Kleinkunst der 30er Jahre, master's thesis, Vienna 1992; T. Krpic, Politik und Kabarett, master´s, thesis Vienna, 1993.