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Reinhard Nowak: “Mother’s Day has nothing to lose”

“I didn’t catch Willie!” or “You said the same thing, I screwed up!” – These quotes are practically cultural assets in Austria. It has been exactly 30 years since the movie “Mother’s Day” was released in German cinemas. However, the play was not originally intended for the screen at all, but was written as a play by the “Schlabarett” cabaret group. In 1991 Mother’s Day premiered, directed by Erwin Steinhauer. At that time, Eva Pelicic, Alfred Dorfer, Roland Düringer, Andrea Handler and Reinhard Novak were on stage.

The film has now achieved cult status in Austria and will be shown on ORF 1 again this year. In Schwechat (Bruck an der Leitha) the play will be staged again this year. There’s even a cast from the original cast: Reinhard Nowak. In an interview with Robert Friese, Novak explains what the film means to the local cabaret scene and why he owes it to a school friend, Roland Düringer, to become a cabaret entertainer. We are at the “Theater Forum Schwechat”, 30 years after the film, the play is being staged here. How do you feel about being the only one returning from among the original cast?

Reinhard Nowak: It was a rather strange feeling until receiving the request. Then I thought about it for a moment. And I had to learn new things, but somehow I really have the characters in me. It was all there. Mother’s Day has become a cult, it is played regularly on ORF, as well as this Mother’s Day. Why did this cult arise?

Nowak: This real satire, black comedy was something new for Austria at the time and it lost nothing with time. Many people know the words of jokes by heart, and in the theater people sometimes join the conversation, and we don’t need a promoter. In the 1980s you happened to join the “Schlabarett” group with Roland Düringer, Alfred Dorfer and Andrea Händler.

Nowak: I went to HTL with Roland Düringer, and after Peter Wustinger left, he asked me if I’d step in. Of course, I was honored that I hadn’t taken acting lessons that long back then. Then I joined the “Atomic Mushroom Left” program. In that time, I learned a lot more on stage than in class.


On stage in Schwechat: Robert Friese interviews Reinhard Nowak Was it always clear to you that you were going to become an actor or performer in a cabaret?

Nowak: Not really, I went to HTL – Mechanical Engineering. My parents wanted me to become a toolmaker, like my father. I got interested in the Film Academy because I loved taking pictures. But the entrance examination was very difficult. Then at some point, just for fun, I started applying to be an extra in Josefstadt. There she offered Helmut Kaltenger a glass of water on stage. At school you once said you wanted to be a bank robber.

Nowak: I always like it when people laugh at me. When the teacher asked what we wanted to be, I told the bank robber. As a result, my mother received a summons and I was slapped at home. The group “Schlabarett” with you, Alfred Dorfer, Roland Doringer and Andrea Handler has created a real boom in the cabaret. To what do you attribute the fact that cabaret suddenly became so popular?

Nowak: I think people just want to talk and they like to go somewhere to forget about their daily lives and laugh. We did it then and we still do it today through our individual programmes. When “Mother’s Day” hit cinemas 30 years ago, there was initially a lull in your career.

Nowak: I went to a few castings and she wasn’t accepted, which was very frustrating. It took almost a year before the next movie was released.

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