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News – Ring Award 2014


“Austria’s Puppet Artist Number One”

Last Friday Nikolaus Habjan and two actors from the ensemble of Schaupielhaus Graz let ‚the puppets dance‘ at the theatre’s Rehearsal Stage. Albert Camus’s “The Misunderstanding”, under the direction of Habjan, has already turned into the great public success of the season: few spare tickets are left for all remaining performances.

The “Kronen Zeitung” headline calls the young Styrian artist “Austria’s Puppet Artist Number One” who together with his actor colleagues is able to “fascinate and move the audience with their (puppet) play”. “Do not miss this evening!

Orest (c) Neue Oper Wien

Suing himself …

Nikolaus Webern, who in 2011 won the ring.award.off for his stage design of a new adaptation of the operetta “Die Fledermaus” (“The Bat”), has now become responsible for the sets of “Orest”, Manfred Trojahn’s contemporary work to be brought out by Neue Oper Wien (New Opera Vienna). Neue Oper Wien, since 1990 specialized in modern musical theatre, exclusively concentrates on works of the 20th and 21st centuries and offers an ideal platform for world premieres and Austrian first performances.

From 28 October 2014, Orestes, haunted matricide, will be on the run from himself. We meet him as a homeless social outcast condemned to relive over and over again his own disastrous life story. At Halle E of the Vienna MuseumsQuartier, this tragical hero finally carries on a grim lawsuit against himself, both as defendant and judge, which will – possibly – result in redemption. 

“A unique success story”

The RING AWARD with its three competition stages is still the only international musical theatre competition of its kind. It was successfully held for the seventh time in Graz from 2012 to 2014. At the great finals on 30 May and 1 June 2014, held at Schauspielhaus Graz, young up-and-coming talents were challenged to present their views of what musical theatre should be like today to a prestigious jury and an eagerly attentive public audience.

“The RING AWARD can look back at the history of a unique success story” – said Katharina Wagner, Artistic Director of the Bayreuth Festival, in her laudation at the finals.

The next edition of the RING AWARD is planned for 2017.

the seventh edition

One competition in three stages, 91 teams, 196 participants from 29 different nations  - the RING AWARD is still the only competition of its kind worldwide reflecting the most recent developments in the art of staging musical.

Get some impressions what has happened during the seventh edition of the International Competition for Stage Direction and Design.



“If they don’t have a conflict in their faces they are dead.”

The young puppet artist and stage director Nikolaus Habjan’s production at the Vienna Schuberttheater of F. ZAWREL – GENETICALLY AND SOCIALLY INFERIOR very movingly revived the gripping authentic story of Friedrich Zawrel, who during the time of the Nazis was able to flee from the Vienna hospital ‘Am Spiegelgrund’ and later in life had to meet again his former torturer. For this production Habjan received the Nestroy Theatre Award 2013 (Best Off-Production). He now returns to Graz and stages Albert Camus‘ drama THE MISSUNDERSTANDING at the Schauspielhaus, a tragedy of fate reminiscent of classical antiquity in its stature; it was the all-round artist himself who created the puppets for this production. At the big RING AWARD prize-giving ceremony in June 2014 Graz audiences were already able to experience Nikolaus Habjan and his eccentric puppet miming the once highly-acclaimed opera diva Gisela Hering. And now, from 17 October, the Styrian artist together with two actors from the Graz ensemble will perform at the Schauspielhaus Rehearsal Stage.

Why Nikolaus Habjan when creating his unique puppets always has a ‘conflict in their faces’ in mind, you can find out HERE!



Political prisoners, a corrupt and degenerated society placed in a fiction eastern Germany some day before the wall colapses: that’s FIDELIO directed by the RING AWARD finalist Dan Turdén at the Årsta Folkets Hus.

“Dan Turdén’s direction makes the story clearer, without any extravagances. Using army clothing around a working desk, the methods of power are portrayed.”

 ”In this select and effective performance, Rocco and Pizarro make the greatest impression of how power finds impersonation. … Rocco, captured in a cruel hierarchy, gives a strongly individualized picture of the multi-layered anatomy of dictatorship.”

 ”However small the format of the production is, the music of Beethoven never loses its power. The same can be said about the performance: it is larger than its format.” by Claes Wahlin, Aftonbladet

“Few operas benefit as much from shifts of time and place as Fidelio, and I can very well imagine how positive Beethoven would have been about the idea of letting the story take place during the last days of the Berlin wall.”

“Dan Turdén is a confident stage director …”

“Briliant vocal achievments…” by Lars Sjöberg, Expressen

“This performance of Fidelio is one for the ironic generation where all nobility, that usually characterizes the work, is filtered through a distanced and excessive style of performance …”

“The minister, who in the final scene makes a kind of divine intervention, here quite cleverly appears in a television broadcast … (and) authoritatively declares that the wall has fallen. The prison’s officials immediately begin to destroy all documents.”

“The performance is carried by very skilled singers…” by Bo Löfvendahl, Svenska Dagbladet

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