Susita Fink, puppeteer and producer: Vienna is our scenery

With all my performances I have a political intention to show in a funny way how little has society changed

Photo: Barbara Palffy

Drama specialist and director of a small Vienna Street Puppets theaterfink, Susita Fink and his colleagues offer the guests of the Austrian capital an interesting attraction this summer - the first cultural horse-drawn carriage that travels through the time and history of Vienna. I take historical stories and relate history to the present. The actors are from Vienna and the music is old Viennese music composed from Vienna artists like Ernst Molden. With all my performances I have a political intention to show in a funny way how little has society changed, says Susita Fink in an interview to EUROPOST.

Ms Fink, you have offered the guests of the Austrian capital an interesting attraction this summer - the first cultural horse-drawn carriage that travels through the time and history of Vienna. Tell us in brief how did you come up with this idea and what do you present to the audience? What kind of thematic routes do you offer, what stories do you tell the people?

I am a horse lover since my childhood. My parents were not happy with that, because they thought horses and riding are only for rich people. So I had to work for my passion. When I was 15, I bought a filly with my pocket money and cleaned stables to afford her. She is now 34 years old and I have enough horse-knowledge to work with horses, and I think I can always tell when a horse is well. It was always my dream to work with horses, and when I met Martina Michelfeit three years ago, I started to engage my passion for theatre with my love of horses. Martina is a real Wiener Fiaker (Viennese carriage driver), with a stable in the Wiener Prater and with her horses she is part of one of my plays. In the last three years I learned much about the people who want the horse-drawn carriages out of the city, because they think the horses are not treated well by their owners and they just want to make money with them. It takes a long time till a horse trusts you, so I know that's not true. Since last year I learn to drive a carriage. I want to show people that working with horses needs a high level of cooperation with the animals. As I want to get people from Vienna back into the Fiaker, I thought about a special programme for the people who live here. The first cultural horse-drawn carriage brings the guests to places in Vienna where the normal carriages don't go. In case of the “Krimi-Kutsche”, additionally to the carriage driver, an artist tells stories about capital crimes that took place in the city.

How did you prepare these thematic routes, what actors and authors take part in them, which aspects of Vienna's cultural life do they reveal? And how do they associate with the present day of the city?

It is very open what the artists want to tell their audience, but the programme should not last during the whole time of the carriage drive. Our guests should have time to enjoy the ride, because in the open carriage you can see the houses and places of Vienna as you have never seen them. Additionally, they should get the possibility to interact and talk with the artist and with the driver. Till now we have four routes and programmes. One with Michaela Aigner for families. She tells an old legend of the city with her puppets. Eva Billisich presents Wiener G'stanzeln (rhymes) and funny stories. Walter Kukla takes his place in the carriage as an inspector and tells true crime stories from the 19th century till now. And for Beethoven's Umzugskutsche, Karin Sedlak or myself, we are telling about Ludwig van Beethoven. We pass some of the places where he used to live, and we draw a picture of the city from the time when he was living in it.

Vienna is a city which is rich in interesting Cold War spy stories, a centre where various intelligence services had been exchanging information. Do you have such a route?

That's a really good idea! Karin Sedlak, who does most of the research, is now an expert for capital crimes of the 19th century, but this could definitely be our new tour for the winter.

To how many people have you shown your street performances so far and how has the audience welcomed them?

For the street performances, we can play for maximum 100 people. We are mobile and don't have any technical equipment. We walk from station to station, the city is our scenery. One scene is about 10 minutes. It depends on the weather how many people follow us, we had about 8,000 people registered in the last 10 years, but for sure there are more, because people who walk by are also watching. The Kultur Kutsche is also well booked.

You are also a director of Vienna Street Puppets theaterfink. What kind of performances do you present and what type of spectators are they intended for?

All the performances on the street are with actors, puppets and live music. With all my performances I have a political intention. For example, “Abschiedslied der zum Tode verurteilten Theresia K**” (“Farewell song of Theresia K**, sentenced to death”) is not only a play about the only woman who was hanged in public at the Spinnerin am Kreuz, it shows how women were treated in the 19th century and how little has changed.

The name of the theatre is a play on words as far as I understood. It contains your last name, but fink also means a small city bird. How is your theatre linked to Vienna?

All stories are related to Vienna. The actors are from Vienna and the music is old Viennese music composed from Vienna artists like Ernst Molden.

Do you stage political satire?

It is not really satire, but I show in a funny way how little has society changed. I take historical stories and relate history to the present.

Have you participated with your performances in international puppet and street festivals and competitions? Have you attended Bulgarian puppet shows and festivals?

I have three children, my husband has a fulltime job, so it was no option for me to go to international festivals in the last 10 years. Now they are old enough to stay at home alone and I started last year with a tour through Austria. Now we have the Corona pandemic, but I hope in 2021 or 2022 I can go to international festivals. When is the next festival in Bulgaria?

The Austrian capital is famous for its cultural institutes - museums, galleries and theatres. Is it easy or difficult for a young creator like you to fully realise their potential in Vienna?

We have a very big theatre scene in Vienna but there is never enough money, especially for small private theatres. To be seen and heard you need money for advertising and public relations. That is expensive, and with only the admission fee at hand you will not be able to finance the advertisement. So we always need financial help, and to get such from the city and state is the hardest work for all projects. I could hardly run my life only with theaterfink, so I started to work in social projects. It is very satisfying to work with people. I love our world, so I'm always open for new things!

Close-up

Susita Fink is a puppeteer and producer. She is one of the creators of the small Vienna Street Puppets theaterfink in a creative tandem with Karin Sedlak, and she is its director. Born in Erdberg, Vienna, she has been a puppeteer since 1994. She has performed at the Marionette Theatre in Schoenbrunn and at the Figurentheater Lilarum. Since 2001 she has been making her own productions. In the period from 1995 to 2006 she studied Science of Dramatic Art, Philosophy, Linguistics and Slovenian language at the University of Vienna. Meanwhile, from 1999 to 2001 she graduated from a private school for Advertising Design. She also specialised in Stage Speech. She is currently studying singing with voice coach Natalie Jean Marain. Since 2019, Susita Fink has also been engaged in social activities like care for the homeless, and from 2015 to 2016 she worked with refugees.

Similar articles