THE PROTAGONIST
A table made from the Vienna Burgtheater’s stage floor

Damaged in the war, the Burgtheater reopened in 1955, featuring a new floor. The greatest actors in the German-speaking world stood on these boards. This is where fear, love and battles were played out: this is where theatre history was written.

 

After the floor was renewed (2011), designer Ulrike Nachbargauer preserved the boards and reworked them into a unique table called THE PROTAGONIST.

 

The first table embodies the idea of turning stage ephemera into pieces of furniture and was auctioned at the Dorotheum to benefit the Vienna Burgtheater. Following on, a limited-edition series of tables, the Protagonists and Antagonists, was developed.

THE STAGE FLOOR

Boards that mean the world

The PROTAGONISTS’ boards have literally absorbed the passion of innumerable performances and represent the Burgtheater’s great past unlike anything else. THE PROTAGONIST carries theatre history written by artists such as Attila Hörbiger, Paula Wessely, Klaus-Maria Brandauer, Gert Voss and many more in about 19,000 performances.

 

You can read the special stories the stage floor has to tell in our Blog .

THE DESIGN

Where have you seen such a thing before…

The boards are visibly bound together by nut and spring to form a table surface. This is complemented by a brass inset featuring a quote from The Fortune and Fall of King Ottokar, the first play to be performed after the Burgtheater reopened in 1955:
 

“… Worthy of a ruler to look out for it! Where have you seen such a thing before? …”  (Franz Grillparzer, The Fortune and Fall of King Ottokar)
 

The hand-written signatures of the main protagonists from the 1955 and 2005 productions have been engraved on the brass plate:

Ewald Balser (King Ottokar 1955)

Tobias Moretti (King Ottokar 2005)

Attila Hörbiger (Rudolf von Habsburg 1955)

Michael Maertens (Rudolf von Habsburg 2005)

THE REALISATION

From the first touch to the finished table

The development process from the first touch to the finished table took about a year. THE PROTAGONIST had to meet the highest quality requirements. For the development and production, designer Ulrike Nachbargauer brought together a team of ambitious young Austrian craftspeople she had met during her career.

 

One of the greatest challenges was reprocessing the wooden boards. The surface had to be usable as a table and meet all requirements: easy to clean, and free of splinters or nails that could cause injury. Yet at the same time the original floor (with all its holes, marks and notches) had to be preserved. 

 

The development of the table’s frame presented a challenge, too. Ulrike Nachbargauer wanted to use as little material as possible while achieving maximum stability. The table has to be robust in order to hold up an exceptionally heavy surface.

THE AUCTION

For the Benefit of the Young Burgtheater

THE PROTAGONIST was successfully auctioned off as part of the "Design Auktion" at the Palais Dorotheum on 4 November 2015 to benefit the “Young Burg”.

2018

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