“‘Tenne’ is a word specific to Tirol that refers to the place where the hay is stored. When I was a child my parents had a small farm and I would always help out. One day I decided I wanted to get into acting. The first performance at the Steudltenn was a magical moment. It was a dress rehearsal open to the general public – and everyone from the village came along. It just seemed a natural fit: a traditional setting and modern art.
My father is great. He always wanted to go to university but never had the chance. He said to us: ‘I want my children to become whatever they want.’ He is very well-known here in our valley. That was important for our plays, especially at the start. He would go out, talk to people and spread the word by handing out flyers wherever he could. ‘Hey, listen up, we’ve got our own theatre,’ he would say. Lots of actors say that the Steudltenn has a special energy which helps them give better performances once they have acted here. The audience is so close. I find it more difficult to act here than at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna.
We want to put on plays which appeal to lots of different people but aren’t commercial. Even people who know nothing about theatre can often feel intuitively if something is genuinely good quality or just elitist rubbish. You always have to find the energy to re-invent yourself. We started at a high level and now we have to maintain that. It’s a fantastic feeling when you are rehearsing a good play and you completely forget that you are actually in a hay barn.”
Bernadette Abendstein, Actor and co-founder of the Steudltenn Theatre Festival
Bernadette Abendstein grew up in the village of Uderns, trained as an actor, was an ensemble member at the Theater in der Josefstadt in Vienna and made a name for herself in the Berlin theatre scene. Together with her partner Hakon Hirzenberger she brought professional theatre to the Zillertal Valley. The Steudltenn Theatre Festival attracts around 15,000 visitors every year. The stage is located in an old hay barn on the family farm.