Karin Schäfer Figuren Theater

About Us

Karin Schäfer Figuren Theater

Karin Schäfer Figuren Theater is an independent theatre company from Austria, whose productions have been invited to more than 45 countries worldwide up to now. Transcending boundaries from theatre, dance, puppets, masks, animation, projections, light to shadows, Karin Schäfer creates her own very special form of “Visual Theatre”.

The company has won many prizes and awards, becoming internationally renowned. Karin Schäfer and her team are frequently invited to guest performences and international festivals all around the globe. The main focus of her work lies within the visualisation of classical music, working in collaboration with pianists and orchestras in renowned theatre houses and concert halls.

Karin Schäfer, the artistic director, is not only known for her stage productions, but also for her work as a visual artist.



Karin Schäfer Figuren Theater was founded in 1993 by Karin Schäfer and Peter Hauptmann, directly after they relocated from Spain back to Austria. Karin Schäfer studied puppet theatre at the "Institut del Teatre" in Barcelona and after graduation she worked with various Spanish groups. The couple spent 7 years in Spain together with their son Boris.

Ever since they returned to Austria and founded the theatre, they did a series of productions in different styles: beginning with solo-marionette theatre, to object and mask theatre right to visual concerts in collaboration with large orchestras. Her work progressively developed towards “Visual Theatre” in which various techniques and genres flow together: puppet theatre, dance, movement, projections, light, shadows and music.

Since the beginning, by using few words and metaphorical language their work is accessible to all countries and cultures. Karin Schäfer, Peter Hauptmann and their team have been invited with their productions to guest performances and to numerous festivals worldwide and have won many awards.  

In 2003, they founded the international Puppet Theatre Festival PannOpticum in Neusiedl am See, where excellent puppet theatre productions from all over the world are invited to Neusiedl am See, a small city in the Austrian region of Burgenland every two years.

Since 2017, they live part-time in Malaga, Vienna and Neusiedl am See. She is currently developing her newest production PARADE adopting music by Erik Satie and inspired by the works of Pablo Picasso. It will be premiered in June 2018 in the PannOpticum festival in Neusiedl am See and will later be available for guest performances.



Karin Schäfer

Karin Schäfer is a stage artist, director, and puppet performer working for more than twenty years on the cutting edge of puppetry, theatre, music and new media. Her performances can be seen all around the world in festivals, theatres and concert halls.

Through her visual theatrical productions, she succeeds in fully exploiting the multitudinous possibilities of puppetry with versatility, bringing seemingly inanimate objects on stage to life and transcending boundaries in visual arts, videos, animation films and projections. This is how she creates stories and pictures that are intuitively understandable for everybody, regardless of age, origin, residency or education. 

The "Karin Schäfer Figuren Theatre” productions have been invited to guest performances and festivals in 45 countries worldwide up to now and have received multiple awards. 

In 2003, Karin Schäfer founded together with Peter Hauptmann, the international festival of puppet and visual theatre “PannOpticum” in Neusiedl am See, Austria.

Peter Hauptmann

Having successfully passed the entrance exam to the Film Academy Vienna but only studying there for a short period of time, Peter Hauptmann decided to switch studies to his second passion, biology. He worked on his PhD research study in marine biology for a couple of years in the University of Barcelona, yet his interest in art and culture brought him back in this direction. 

He founded an agency for independend theatre, engaged himself in the Austrian Association of Independent Theatre (IG Freie Theater) and overtook management and organisation at the “Karin Schäfer Figuren Theater”. Together with Karin Schäfer he also manages the international puppet festival PannOpticum in Neusiedl am See, Austria. 

He recently completed his studies at the WIFI Vienna as a business coach with an ISO certificate, focusing on the connections between art, culture and economic success and providing advice and coaching to artists in this subjects. 

He offers workshops and online courses sharing his knowledge about how to make a living as an artist at: www.art-up.cc 

It is important to me that my work remains “transparent” - in a world of complete technization, it is just the simple, comprehensible things that - in new and surprising combination - make people wonder.
— Karin Schäfer




Andorra | Argentina | Aserbaijan | Austria | Belarus | Belgium | Brazil | Chile | China | Croatia | Cuba | Czech Republic | Denmark | Egypt | England | France | Germany | Greece | Hungary | Ireland | Israel | Italy | Japan | Kenia | Korea | Lithuania | Luxembourg | Mexico | Montenegro | Netherlands | Northern Ireland | Pakistan | Poland | Portugal | Romania | Russia | Schottland | Senegal | Serbia | Slowakia | Spain | Sri Lanka | Switzerland | Taiwan | Turkey | USA


We love to travel in conjunction with our artistic work; the collaboration with artistic and cultural institutions in other countries and continents, getting to know new people, the feeling of excitement to show this special form of theatre to complete strangers, perhaps completely new to some people, the tension built whilst travelling, the transport of props and puppets, in the hope that everything arrives safely, the setup and rehearsals on new stages, the collaboration with new teams in diferent locations and especially the flair because many of these places just radiate with energy, here is a small selection:


Our Personal Highlights


The most elegant places:

Philharmonie Luxemburg / Konzerthaus Wien / Museum der Moderne, Salzburg / Metropolitan Hall Taipeh

The biggest festivals:

World Puppetry Festival in Chengdu (China) / Festival Mondial in Charleville-Mézières (Frankreich) / Festival Teatralia in Madrid

The most exotic settings:

World Performing Arts Festival in Lahore (Pakistan) / Iquique am Rande der Atacama Wüste (Chile)

The most surprising themes:

Festival of Experimental Theatre in Kairo

The hottest / wettest performances:

(Without air-conditioning / Rain on the stage)

Festival de Teatro, Havanna (Kuba) / Festival de Oaxaca (Mexiko)

The most beautiful historical theatre:

Teatro Tomás Terry in Cienfuegos (Kuba) / Stadttheater Amberg (Deutschland) / Kabuki Theater Niigata (Japan)

The biggest halls:

Ahmet Adnan Saygun Concert Hall in Izmir / Auditorio Miguel Delibes in Valladolid /
Grand Théâtre National du Sénégal / Opernhaus Bonn

The most ubiquitous institutions:

cooperation with numerous Confucius-institutes- there are over 400, worldwide

The most unusual of places:

Marienkirche in Frankfurt (Oder), which had no roof back then/ island of Santa Maria (Azores) in the middle of the Atlantic

Very special organizations:

Europäische Kulturhauptstadt Wroclaw / Jeunesse Musikalische Jugend / Österreichische Botschaft Washington

The biggest puppet theatre:

Obraszow Theater Moskau

And very inspiring:

Theatrer Betty Vytinarou in Thessaloniki / Jerusalem Festival of Visual Theatre