Monday, June 25, 2012

William Tell Play in Interlaken

Saturday was a very full day for us as we had tickets to the Opening Night of the world famous William Tell play in Interlaken. This would be a special night as it marked the 100th Anniversary of the first production of German writer Friedrich Schiller's 1803 play about the epic Swiss hero whose impressive crossbow accuracy acts.

William Tell's heroics took place at about the same time that the three original cantons of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri formed the Confœderatio Helvetica in 1291 that led to the creation of current day Switzerland.

But first . . .

The Lauterbrunnen Valley

We opted to go to Interlaken early in the afternoon so that Laurie could get a closer look at the Alps. We boarded the train from Interlaken that took us deep into the nearby Lauterbrunnen Valley.

Waterfalls are everywhere in
this scenic valley

Our goal was to take the gondola up from the valley floor to the absolutely non-tourist village of Gimmelwald at a modest, by Swiss standards, elevation of only 1363 meters/4472 feet.

Greetings from Gimmelwald 

These colorful flags caught our eye as we stepped off of the gondola. Better check them out.

The flags are part of this hostel 

The hostel has a very long history
having been established in 1563 

It was time for pizza and a beer

Nothing says Swiss Alpine life quite like a pizza.

Wait, is that right?

Gnomes abound in Gimmelwald 

As do historic houses 

This family was enjoying
the day as well

Killer Chicken

Our view as we ate lunch

Done foraging for food, we
explored this quaint village

I first came to Gimmelwald by myself in March, I would guess, and then again in May with my in-laws David and Gayle Hicks. I just love the tranquility of this village where travel stress is not an issue.

This is SO Swiss

Honesty Shop Interior 

Oh yes, this would work in SoCal

We bought a small plate that
matches my Swiss coffee cup

The rocks keep the shingles on
during intense Alpine winter
wind storms

Special Farrier Pliers 

I didn't know it but Laurie informed me that these are officially known as horseshoe pullers used primarily in removing horseshoes.

I didn't know that.

A black petunia . . .

and a rustic door

Vegetable Garden

When Gayle and David were here, she visited for several minutes with the lady who was then in the midst of planting this garden in her backyard.

As I said,
it's a tranquil village . . .

with cows . . .

AND goats!

David Hicks was intriqued during his visit to Switzerland with the near art status of Swiss wood stackers. Here you go David.

Geometric Bliss 

Round is a shape

Pattern meets pattern

Two classics meet

Gondola back to the valley floor

Laurie and Gayle are definitely sisters in one regard, they are both frightened of gondola rides.

Once we got back to Interlaken, we both agreed that a small snack was in order before the play, but where?

Why Hooters of course! 

Great grilled chicken strips and a cold one hit the spot.

This guy had interesting hair 

Finally, it was time to head to the specially built, open air theatre that hosts the William Tell play. The ten minute walk took us through parts of Interlaken that I had not previously seen. 

The Swiss sport of Steintossen

Huge rock throwing basically. I have yet to see this very Swiss sport live. 

Not Real 

Fine wood carving 

Huge Swiss House

Nice Hotel

This was all great to see, but which way to the play?

Oh, it's that way

We were a bit early by design as we figured that there would be Willian Tell related displays set up for us to visit before the play.

We were so right!

A Crossbow, AT LAST!!!

Three arrows for only two Swiss Francs. LET'S DO THIS!

Please note that everyone working at the play in any capacity is dressed in garb from the 13th century and the days of William Tell and his brave son Walter.

So how did I do?

My first two arrows would
have saved Walter's life!

My third one would have given him a severe migraine.

My total score was a 22.

Laurie's turn 

She did well

A score of 20

She also hit the apple on her first two shots. Although I outscored her 22-20. Laurie was quick to point out that her best arrow scored a nine, while my best was only good for an eight.

She also felt it important to note that her missed shot would have sailed over Walter's head while mine would have killed him.

A minor point if you ask me from someone who just lost 22-20.

Now it was time to see the other displays about Swiss life in the 1200s.

Making Lace is fascinating


No wait, that's on Sunday in Fribourg for your Thun Tigers. 

This was a blacksmith plying his trade as he made nails.

A blacksmith working his fire

Pound that nail!

Some of this blacksmith's
finished products

Angelic Medieval Music 

Mother and child
in period costumes 

Laurie had one last Rugenbräu
Spezial Hell beer before the play

Our seats were to the left 

The play was in 100% German but we were able to follow the plot in our program that summarized each scene in English.


A spectacular setting for . . .

 . . . a spectacular play!

We had horses, goats, cows, a bull and hundreds of locals playing the various roles in this marvelous play, true community theater at its best!

Here a parade of peasants are coming down from the high meadows in Scene One of this 13 Scene play. 

Horesmen, actually some
women with mustache disguises

At least I think they are disguises.

They ride for the evil Austrian tyrant named Gessler.

BOO . . . HISS!!!


Cows coming down from the high
Alpine meadows to the valley

You've got to have a prize bull too! 

Konrad Baumgarten 

He is in a panic as he is fleeing the Austrian horsemen due to his actions against an Austrian who tried to take liberties with his wife seen here. William Tell will whisk him across Lake Luzern to safety in a violent storm when no one else dared attempt the crossing.

It's what legendary heroes do after all.

William Tell's Grand Entrance

Trumpets are always good

Austrian Overseerer

He was not afraid to crack the whip several times as he made the local villagers work like slaves while building tyrant Gessler's new Zwing Uri fortress.

Gessler's Hat

In a really smart move designed to win the hearts of the Swiss people, Gessler has his hat placed on a pole in the town square. All of the locals must bow deeply when they walk pass the hat as if Gessler himself was there wearing the hat.

I see this as a potential problem. How about you?

 Lady Berta von Brunek

Quite simply, Gessler's actions piss her off!

Horse Handler 

His job was clearly to keep any horse whose rider dismounted calm. He did his job to perfection!

Unfortunately, as the Sun continued to go down, it became harder to take pictures.

I would physically fight anyone if
it meant I got this role with the horn hat 

Swearing to band together against
the Austrian despot and create the
Confœderatio Helvetica

To give you an idea of the scope
of the play

To make the actors stage exit even more thrilling, the play blared "The William Tell Overture" from Gioachino Rossini's opera as the horses charged off of the stage.


Just in case you don't remember this catchy tune, go to:

We had such a good time at a play written by a German with a dynamic opera song written by an Italian about Switzerland's greatest hero.

How Swiss is that!

The Migros Hot Air Baloon

Migros is one of the two Swiss national food market chains, Coop is the other one. Migros does a great job sponsoring many cultural and sporting events throughout Switzerland.

We shop there.

Parting Gifts

We were not done yet as we were given both a hard cover book about the 100 year history of Interlaken's love affair with this play and a large bar of Swiss chocolate on our way out!

We didn't get home until after midnight but we had enjoyed such a wonderful day in Switzerland!!!

Your 4-5 Thun Tigers' final game of the season was on tap for Sunday at 2:00 p.m. in Fribourg against the 0-9 Cardinals.



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