Josef Anton Stranitzky
Stranitzky, Josef Anton
Born circa 1676 in Styria (?); died May 19, 1726, in Vienna. Austrian actor and playwright; founder of the Austrian professional theater.
After studying at the University of Leipzig, Stranitzky became an actor and headed various itinerant troupes. He interpreted the role of Hanswurst, giving this comic character an Austrian flavor. He wrote several comedies, 14 of which have survived; these works are actually scenarios in which much of the performance depended on improvisation. Stranitzky’s mastery of characterization, biting folk humor, and bold satirical allusions greatly aided his troupe’s success. In 1706 he began working in Vienna, where he organized Austria’s first resident German-language theater in 1712.