Interactive Secret Letters

Letter culture between private and public

The project invites people to reread letters from their own environment and make them available to us: Because these personal documents reflect the life of the region, contemporary events and their impact on the lives of the authors.

(Original title: Briefgeheimnisse interaktiv)

Subject to change
Briefgeheimnisse interaktiv
Festwochen Gmunden

Karin Bergmann (Director of the Gmunden Festival Theatre)
Salzkammergut Festival Weeks Gmunden (co-operation partner)

Sonja Zobel, Martina Rothschädl (Head of Programme Performing Arts)

April and October 2024

About the project

Letters: What Do They Reflect About the Life of Time, the Region, Personal Perceptions…?

Some people wrote letters several times a day, in order to maintain a private, intellectual or artistic exchange, for the purposes of self-affirmation and for self-promotion, their letters have been carefully preserved and often published. Others wrote perhaps only a few times in their lives, because something of critical importance had to be negotiated or because they had to tell about their new life far from home. These letters are seldom found in books and the idea for Briefgeheimnisse interaktiv, or Interactive Secret Letters, came from the hope that they had been carefully preserved.

The project invites people from the region to read anew letters from their own surroundings, from their families and circles of friends and to make them available to us: these personal documents reflect the life of the region, contemporary history and its effects upon the lives of those writing the letters. The postage stamp and/or the place the respective letters were written form a map that connects the Salzkammergut region with Europe and with the world.

This will be a large-scale cycle of readings, in which the private testimonies to the lives and correspondence of artists, academics, politicians who were guests within the Salzkammergut region, from Alexander von Humboldt to the Imperial family and houses of European nobility all the way to Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler, Lehár and Freud are brought together seeks to portray and tell the story of the tensions between the external and internal worlds, history and stories between the harmony of the summer holidays and real life.

The goal is, over the course of two to four readings, to combine different topics such as, for example, contemporary history, everyday life, the culture of correspondence between public personalities with those of the citizens of the region in order to create an awareness of how much private life and public life affect each other.

The letters will be presented in readings each time by two prominent actors, paired with an introduction by a cultural historian.

The project is intended for all of the inhabitants of the region, and is also especially suitable for all kinds of elementary schools, primary schools, institutions of higher education and associations that want to further with history.