Clear the stage - for the Puch theater group

On to the rehearsal: A look behind the scenes!

by Barbara / 23. Februar 2023 / Event / People / Tradition
Theatergruppe Puch © TVB Puch - Gerber

All theater during Lent in Puch near Salzburg

A fixed point in the calendar after carnival here in Puch are the popular performances of the theater group Puch. The ensemble around chairwoman Annemarie Holztrattner has made a name for itself far beyond the borders of the Tennengau with its plays bursting with hilarity and punchlines. For us locals it is perhaps still are the komödiantischen scenes still somewhat more amusingly, since one knows the actors often also privately already for a very long time and visits the theater for years also regularly.

After the two-year forced break, the play "Fashion Show in the Ox Stable" by Jonas Jetten will now be performed in March. About 100 guests are expected in the ballroom at the Kirchenwirt in Puch per performance, who can enjoy the comedy under the direction of Elisabeth Wintersteller.

Modenschau im Ochenstall © Theatergruppe Puch 2023

But how much work is behind such a performance, how the actors rehearse the piece until it fits properly and what you can expect this year at the Pucher Bauerntheater, I tell you today here in the PUCH MAGAZINE. I visited the Pucher theater group on Rose Monday at one of the last rehearsals before the premiere on March 10 and I can only tell you one thing - it will be very funny at the "fashion show in the oxen stable"!

Who is the Puch Theater Group?

The Theatergruppe Puch, as it is known today, already celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017 and has performed plays such as „Petri Heil und Waidmanns Dankby Bernd Bombold, -„Drei Weiber und ein Gockelby Erwin Koch or „Leberkäs und Rote Strapseby Regina Rösch in recent years. Posters with pictures of each play hang in the rehearsal room and remind us of past performances and former performers.

Problokal Theatergruppe Puch © TVB Puch - Gerber

All plays are rural comedy plays, which the Puch theater group enjoys performing and which are also very well received by the audience. "We do not want to play tragic or sad plays. In our comedies, the visitors should be able to laugh heartily, and the two hours pass in a flash," says Annemarie Holztrattner, who has been with the group from the beginning and has certainly played in more than 20 plays in Puch. Her favorite roles are those of a farmer"s wife or a maid at the farm - especially when the role has to be a bit scatterbrained or, as we would say, "bodschat", as she and her theater colleagues have often had to be in recent years:

Theater in Puch: Excerpt from the chronicle

"Puch bei Hallein - History and Present of a Salzburg Community" by Gerhard Ammerer, 1998, p 674:

Shorter or longer existing theater groups can be found repeatedly in the history of Puch. Thus, in the interwar period, there were two theater groups existing side by side in the two main villages of the municipality: In Puch, performances took place at the Kirchenwirt in the 1920s and 1930s. Plays such as Ludwig GanghofersDer Geigenmacher von Mittenwald“, Ludwig Anzengrubers farce „Doppel-Selbstmord“ or „s`Nullerl“ by Karl Morré. In St. Jakob audiences enjoyed plays such as „Der Meineidbauer“ or „Die Trud vom Oberhof“ in the 1930s. The performances of this ensemble took place first in the schoolhouse, then in the hall of the Oberthurnhof inn. In 1938, amateur actors from the ranks of the Jakobischützen performed the play "Der blutige Kindermord von Glaneck" (The bloody infanticide of Glaneck) on a plank stage set up in front of the church of St. Jakob to celebrate the "200th anniversary of their induction".

Theater in Puch © Pucher Gemeinde Chronik

After that, only some time later a theater group was established in Puch again, so it is reported that D`Puachstoana from 1951 to improve the club cash exceptionally played a few years theater and that in the parish church of Puch the performance of a "Totentanz" play took place in 1958. The revitalization came only in 1977, when a group of young people around the current chairwoman Annemarie Holztrattner (eh. Brunnauer) came together. At that time still under the name „Theatergruppe Puch des Salzburger Bildungswerkes“ as a registered association exists the "Theatergruppe Puch e. V." since 1991.

Off to rehearsal - a look behind the scenes!

The members of the Puch theater group not only delight the audience every year at their performances during Lent, but also have fun during rehearsals. You can just see how much fun they have slipping into unfamiliar roles and especially acting out the many funny scenes.

Theatergruppe Puch beim Proben © TVB Puch - Gerber

But there is certainly no question of amateur theater here, as professionally as the Pucher theater players go to work here. It is impressive how much time is invested and how much heart and soul is put into each role. You can feel the fun that the actors have while playing and rehearsing. For the performances during Lent, rehearsals will take place twice a week starting in October, and then it"s...

Rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals - learning, learning, learning!

As the old saying goes: WITHOUT EFFORT NO PRIZE! It is the same with theater. Countless hours are spent rehearsing and learning the texts, and there are different methods. Some simply like to read through it silently, more often, and others prefer to listen to the pre-recorded texts on headphones during a walk and thus internalize the various scenes.

Theatergruppe Puch - Leseprobe © TVB Puch - Gerber

The text is not everything!

But not only the text has to be right! Facial expressions, gestures and the right use are required. If just one door is opened too early, the wrong costume is chosen for the next scene, or the stage is entered from the wrong side, nothing fits together and possibly confuses his fellow actors and messes up the whole scene. To prevent this from happening, there are the two angels backstage. On the one hand, Elisabeth Wintersteller, who, with her directing duties during rehearsals and performances, makes sure that everyone stands or sits correctly, that the view into the audience fits, and that the scene is shown to its best advantage. And if there is a problem with the text, Maria Lehrer is on hand as a prompter and helps the actors get back on track. But the actors in Puch act so professionally that the audience usually doesn"t even notice if something goes wrong.

Theatergruppe Puch - Probe - Regie © TVB Puch - Gerber

The long road: from the reading sample to the play on stage

But how can you imagine this? How does the rehearsal up to the performance work in practice now, how does one learn as a group so much text without fluff and how does one actually start? This is how it works with the Puch theater group:

1. Which play?

The first thing to do is to choose the play! For example, you go to a publisher"s website like, choose the category and the number of actors, read through the short description and get a (usually free) reading sample, which is then discussed in the group.

2. The role set

When you have agreed on a play, you get the role set of the play, which can also cost quite a bit. That is, you pay per actor, director and prompter a printed booklet that can cost around 150-200 euros. In addition, performance fees are charged per performance around 10% of the revenue.

3. Reading

After each member of the theater group has read the script and color-coded his/her text, they meet for the first "reading rehearsal". There you sit together at a table and the play is read through completely from scene to scene - each one his or her part. Since some people like to listen to the texts afterwards like a radio play, the reading is recorded.

4. Rehearsals

After that we go on stage - at the beginning with the text in our hands. Afterwards without text, scene for scene is rehearsed. So the actors learn a certain amount of text until the next rehearsal, which must then also sit.

5. Organization & marketing

In addition to the weekly rehearsals, sponsors are sought for the flyer, posters are printed and distributed, and ticket reservations are taken by telephone by Michaela Höllbacher at her own telephone number +43 680 3062167 (Mon-Fri, 14.30-17.00). Seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

6. Stage construction

In the rehearsal room, the mobile stage for the Kirchenwirt is hidden under the fixed stage. About 5 to 6 hours are needed for the stage construction and again afterwards for the dismantling. In addition the scenery changes annually and one needs always something different on the stage, depending upon scene and piece, that can be a tiled stove, an old telephone or also times a bed or a garden bank.

7. Dress rehearsal

2-3 days before the premiere, the dress rehearsal takes place without an audience. The costumes are put on, the technical equipment (Marc Hörhager) as well as the photographer (Florian Hetz) are ready and the play is played through without interruption. Only minor adjustments are made and, above all, the stage is set. In the rehearsal room, you don"t always sit backstage and wait for your cue from the right side; during the performance, it has to fit.

8. the performances

The text sits, the stage is set up and the premiere can start! The reservation signs are placed on the tables and the guests are taken to their seats after paying for the reserved tickets. Then it"s curtain up and have fun with the Puch Theater Group!

Der Traumurlaub © Theatergruppe Puch

Proceeds from the premiere are donated annually!

The fact that the theater group Puch is also socially committed is well known and makes the group even more likeable. Every year the proceeds of the premiere are donated to the social fund of the municipality of Puch. Every year, 1,000 euros are thus donated to a good cause. It is also no secret that the theater group always rounds up the amount if it does not materialize.

Fashion show in the oxen stable

The great commitment, the acting talent of the actors and above all the noticeable joy in the play make the visitors come back every year. This year, a great comedy by Jonas Jetten awaits you - the : „Modenschau im Ochsenstall“ (Fashion Show in the Ox Stable):

Farmer Paul Hartmann (Richard Moltinger) is a farmer who has run his farm into the ground. His last resort: the new breeding bull. But he doesn"t want it the way Paul imagined. His friend Franz Stolz (Albert Brunnauer) thinks he has a brilliant idea, but everything goes off the rails. Not entirely innocent in this are his wife, farmer Mathilde Hartmann (Annemarie Holztrattner), the village ratchet Klementine Dreist (Bettina Brandauer), the neighbors Kathi Meier (Maria Lehrer) and her daughter Sophie Meier (Elena Fercher) as well as Gerda Ungestüm (Renate Pöschl) and the art dealer Dr. Bruno Braun (Peter Schatteiner).

During my visit to the last rehearsal, I was able to see the first scenes and had to stifle a few loud laughs.

It is remarkable with how much professionalism the Pucher theater group goes to work here. You truly slip into a different role and give your best on stage with your wit and charm. Be curious and listen carefully, at the "Fashion Show in the Ox Stable" one funny scene follows the other - just as a folk comedy should be!

Tip: During the theater performances you will be spoiled with Austrian delicacies from the Kirchenwirt`s inn kitchen. It is best to come directly to the entrance at 6:30 p.m. and enjoy the meal before the performance. For the two afternoon performances I recommend one of the handmade cakes from the Süsserei by Theresa Jahoda.

And what happens after the performances at the Puch theater group?

After a short break after the performances, the search for the next play begins in the summer. The most difficult part of it, the chosen play should fit the number, gender and age of the actors. For this purpose, only folk plays are selected in Puch. According to Annemarie Holztrattner, in her many years of experience, these funny peasant plays are simply more popular with the audience and are better attended than more modern plays.

ACTORS WANTED! You also want to slip into a different role and want to be on the theater stage? Then simply contact the theater group Puch. Young actors are always welcome and we are sure to find a suitable role for you!

Theatergruppe Puch does not only rehearse and play! Once a month the members meet at the "Theater-Stammtisch" at one of the Pucher inns or restaurants and exchange ideas. Every 2 to 3 years they also go on an overnight trip together with their partners. They have already been to Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna or Mörbisch together.

Ausflug nach Berlin ©Theatergruppe Puch

They also like to visit other performances of friendly theater groups like the „Mühlbach Theater“ or the theater club „Hirta-Buam“ from Michelhausen  in Lower Austria and of course a joint end-of-year party is not to be missed.

All theater in the Tennengau!

When I looked at the walls with the pictures of past performances in the rehearsal room of the Puch theater group, I recognized some scenes and the costumes alone made me smile again. I think that in the meantime I have also visited about 10 performances and can remember very funny moments. I would like to thank Annemarie Holztrattner for her time and the entire Puch theater group for giving me a glimpse behind the scenes.

Tickets are selling like hot cakes!

Those who have not yet reserved tickets for this year"s play "Modenschau im Ochsenstall" should hurry and call the Theatergruppe Puch ticket hotline: +43 680 3062167 (Mon-Fri 14.30 - 17.00). Some dates (12./18./19./25.) are already sold out and the remaining places will be occupied also soon. Adults cost 10 euros and children 5 euros. Ticket collection until 10 minutes before the start of the performance.

Modenschau im Ochenstall © Theatergruppe Puch 2023

I wish the Theatergruppe Puch much success and continued joy in acting as well as the visitors some entertaining and funny hours at the Kirchenwirt, when it"s again: "Stage free, for the Theatergruppe Puch"!

Tip: visit our Instagram page at @visitpuch and get even more insights into the rehearsal work and the upcoming performances of the theater group Puch!

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