Austrian puppeteer. Christoph Bochdansky trained in stage design (scenography) at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Vienna, and at the Figurentheater-Kolleg Bochum (Germany) between 1979 and 1984. He is an atypical puppeteer with a preference for object theatre and abstract performances that distance the play from the text even when the latter forms the basis for the play’s comical and sometimes surrealistic solos. In his work, Bochdansky aims to combine “the power of the visual and the grotesque strength of the puppet”, achieving thus a very contemporary approach to theatre.

His repertoire of plays is intended more for an adult audience and includes: Shipper Vavasseur Colombo (1982); Treibholz – ein echter Kosmopolit (Drift Wood – a Genuine Cosmopolitan, 1988); Zwielicht – Hüte dich, bleib’ wach und munter! (Twilight – Be Careful, Stay Alert and Awake); Ich freue mich (I Am Happy, 2004). Bochdansky also produces shows for children such as Der Sitzbold (The Seated Imp, 1995), Rheingold (Gold of the Rhine, 1997), Das ist die Geschichte vom Spezi Paul (This is the Story of Old Paul, 2000), Als das Weltbild einst verloren ging (When the Picture of the World Was Lost, 2001), and Rapunzel (2002).

Christoph Bochdansky builds his own string and glove puppets, starting with rough shapes, giving them an unfinished appearance that could evoke familiar figures but which are never clearly defined. Sometimes in his shows he appears on the stage, hidden completely in strange costumes. He often mixes dance and puppets, and works frequently with the dancer and choreographer, Rose Breuss. The following productions are notable for this combination: Frau Blaha’s Magd (Mrs Blaha’s Maid); Waldszenen (Forest Scenes, 1995); Variations III, accompanied by music composed by John Cage (1991); and PAAPA!!! (1993).

In addition to the offbeat humour of his puppetry work, which draws attention to the absurdity of the way we live and work, he has also staged a variety of shows from the puppetry repertoire of the Figurentheater Stuttgart (Ich Münchhausen – Jungermann (I am Münchhausen – Young Man), Das Konterfei (The Portrait). At the Figurentheater Lilarum in Vienna he produced Koko mit dem Zauberschirm (Koko and his Umbrella), and then at the Figurentheater Gerti Tröbinger in Linz he created Little Red Riding Hood for the stage.

Christoph Bochdansky has taught (in the Department of Puppetry Arts of the Hochschule für Schauspielkunst “Ernst Busch” in Berlin), produced films and documentaries, mounted exhibitions and made several tours abroad.

(See Austria.)