The beginning

Everything started in 1991 at the Salzburger Marionettentheater with a performance of “The Magic Flute”. Since then I have had a burning interest in puppet theater. I started collecting and building puppets in order to stage operas and plays with them. Further workshops followed and I felt an increasing desire to be on stage with puppets. In 2006 I started to study Music Theater Stage Directing in Vienna.


Schubert Theater

In order to gain experience, I joined the Schubert Theater Vienna in March 2008 as an assistant director and evening show director in the production of “Zum Kotzen” (“It sucks”) by Sigrid Tschiedl . Together with Simon Meusburger, who had seen a video of an early work of mine, I planned to write and perform a cabaret show with puppets.

The vicious puppet show “Schlag sie tot” (“Beat them to Death”) had its world premiere on October 22, 2008, and was a huge success. After 18 sold out performances and a guest appearance in Graz (Theater am Lend) we featured a revised version: “Schlag sie tot – Deluxe” (“Beat them to Death – Deluxe”). We performed this version in Graz in May 2009 and were invited to the Theater am Lend for a third time in November. With this piece we were also invited to Theater Ticino in Waedenswil / Switzerland, where almost all performances were sold out as well . On June 23, 2012, the play “Schlag sie tot” was performed for the 75th time. We continued this series with “Herr Berni macht Urlaub” (“Mr Berni goes on Vacation”), which had its world premiere at the Schubert Theater on December 12, 2009. At the end of January 2010 we gave a guest performance of the play at the Theater am Lend in Graz, in 2012 at the Theater Lechthaler – Belic, Graz and in June 2012 at the Theater Ticino in Waedenswil / Switzerland.

The adaptation of the Austrian classic “Der Herr Karl” (“Mr. Karl”) by Merz / Qualtinger as a puppetry play directed by Simon Meusburger was received enthusiastically by the audience and was awarded the bestOFFstyria – Audience Award 2010. Ever since then, this show has remained one of the key pieces in my puppet theater repertoire.


Puppet designer & Puppetry coach

Due to my success, I was hired as a puppet designer and puppeteer for a coproduction of the Kabinetttheater and the Theater an der Wien “King of the Birds – Queen of the Blood”.

For the opera festival “Nachts” (“At Night”) I designed and built two puppets in the form of dogs for the new chamber opera house “Das Gespraech der Hunde” (“The Talk of the Dogs”) and instructed and trained the two singers in how to handle the puppets.


And thus with puppets!

Puppets have a clear advantage compared to actors when it comes to dying. Nobody can die as convincingly as a puppet . Once the connection to the puppeteer is cut, they return from being an acting person to an inanimate thing, apparently far away from having ever lived .

Yet, that is not the only thing why puppets convince the audience.

Puppet theater offers the opportunity to explore new ways of making theatre, which people have been searching for more and more frantically lately. They increase the range of means of expression without the need of complicated stage technology.

By using puppets, we can show something that is not possible for actors alone, or we can intensify and stylize their actions.

An actor on stage is solely bound to his expressive possibilities. The way he creates and presents his role is a unity – he works homogeneously. However, the puppeteer must approach his part heterogeneously. He needs to think his part on several different levels and must not merge with his character, because the puppet must always remain the main player. A puppet can be alienated, surreal or just a single expression. When played correctly, it will always be absolute, which makes it real, authentic and true.

Neville Tranter

Nikolaus Habjan – Klappmaulpuppe

Nikolaus Habjan – Marionette

Nikolaus Habjan – Schubert Theater

Nikolaus Habjan – Schubert Theater

Nikolaus Habjan – Puppendesigner

Nikolaus Habjan – Puppenspieltrainer

© Verein Wiener Theaterpreis / Lalo Jodlbauer

© Verein Wiener Theaterpreis / Lalo Jodlbauer

Oskar Licht