Adam Sewruk Theatrealias Teatr Dramatyczny (Dramatyczny Theatre, 1975-2007), Teatr im. Stefana Jaracza Olsztyn-Elbląg (Stefan Jaracz Theatre Olsztyn-Elbląg, 1949-1975)
ul. Teatralna 11
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beginning of the construction of Elbląg House of Culture (1955-1962)
inauguration of Teatr Dramatyczny in Elbląg with the performance "Balladyna" by Juliusz Słowacki.
opening of the Small Stage with the performance "Wyzwolenie" by Stanisław Wyspiański
modernization of the Main Stage with the performance "The Fiddler on the Roof" (12.11.2011)
In the first half of the 19th century, an institutional theatre with a professional artistic company and a management, subsidised by the local government, first appeared in Elbląg. The theatre building in Rycerska Street was ceremonially opened on 1 September 1846 (the Technical and IT Schools are currently located on this site). The repertoire consisted of drama and operatic performances, as well as symphonic concerts.
In the interwar years, the theatre, as a crucial element of cultural life in the region, was used for propaganda purposes by the German authorities: it was to maintain and support German culture in the border area, hence the focus on touring activity and a mostly German-language repertoire. Not until the Soviet army entered did the anti-Polish propaganda stop.
In September 1945, Bronisław Romaniszyn, an actor from Lwów, arrived at the demolished city and set up an amateur company that gave its first performances as early as in November. The amateur group was joined by professionals: Wiktoria Skwarczewska-Budkiewicz, an artist from the Warsaw Opera; Irena Zembrzuska, a ballet dancer; and Zbigniew Otomanek, a fine artist. The theatre received a curtain from the Ministry of Culture and Art and several popular plays from the Polish Society of Authors and Composers. It was also promised headquarters in the destroyed former German “Mars” Cinema in Teatralna Street. The company started to gain a following under the name “Miejski” Theatre.
From the autumn of 1949, the Stefan Jaracz Theatre from Olsztyn gave performances in Elbląg. Romaniszyn’s amateur group lost the competition with the professional company and suspended its activity in the spring of 1950.
In September 1950, the Olsztyn company, which originally did not have a permanent stage in Elbląg, received a room in the former parish house in Kościelna Street (nowadays Obrońców Pokoju Street). The room was located on the outskirts of the city and was absolutely not adjusted to the needs of the theatre.
In the 1950s, an idea was born to erect a multifunctional building, housing various cultural institutions. The Elbląg Community Centre in Kazimierz Jagiellończyk Square was designed in 1954 by the Department for Municipal Architectural Design at the Gdańsk Polytechnic, and was completed between 1955 and 1962. Four years later, on 18 June 1966, the building “B” was opened for the public and became the headquarters of the Jaracz Theatre, which had until that time been performing in very bad conditions. The room, seating 700 spectators, was equipped with a revolving stage, an orchestra pit and a backroom adjusted to giving guest performances.
In 1975, Elbląg achieved the status of a voivodeship city. At the same time, the Olsztyn actors decided to split off from the stage in Elbląg. At the request of the theatre circles, on 28 May 1975, the Gdańsk voivode established the Dramatyczny Theatre in Elbląg, which settled in the headquarters of the Jaracz Theatre. The building did not require considerable changes to the stage, which was large and well-equipped, though without technical infrastructure such as workshops and storerooms. Local industrial plants undertook to carry out modernisation works and to equip the workshops.
On 27 March 1976, Jacek Gruca, the managing director of the Dramatyczny Theatre and the theatre director, staged Ladies and Hussars by Aleksander Fredro, with the help of guest actors. The theatre officially opened on 13 November with Balladyna, staged entirely with the new artistic and technical staff.
Since 1977, the theatre has also owned the Little Stage Room, which opened on 27 March with the premiere of Liberation by Stanisław Wyspiański, directed by Marian Dworakowski.
Between September and December 2004, the show room of the theatre was modernised. The auditorium was extended by a balcony, a room for the sound technicians was erected, lighting and sound equipment was replaced. The ceiling and the floor were rebuilt, 512 seats were installed, including 56 on the balcony. In addition, the interior design was changed: the stage portal and the walls in the front part of the auditorium were painted in graphite, whereas the walls in other parts were covered with light wainscot. The juxtaposition of two different textures and colours is quite expressive, contrasting with the red of the floor, the seats and the curtain. Additionally, the walls were rebuilt, the cover of the roof was changed and insulated, and new fire hydrants were installed.
The building has not changed its external appearance so far, keeping the socialist realistic style of the functional form.
At the end of January 2010, it was decided to entirely rebuild, extend and modernise the Dramatyczny Theatre and the European Meetings Centre “Światowid” (formerly WOK). At present, the completion of the project has been put out to tender. According to the design, the modernisation includes the renovation of the existing stages and adjacent storerooms, erecting the Chamber Stage Room and a rehearsal room, as well as the extension of the workshops (including a carpenter’s workshop), of storerooms and of the archive. The passages are planned to be adjusted to allow for disabled access, with lifts and two separate entrances to be erected, as well as rooms serving educational purposes being extended.
20 lat sceny w Elblągu Teatru im. Stefana Jaracza – Olsztyn – Elbląg 1949-1969, Elbląg 1969.
X-lecie Teatru im. Stefana Jaracza w Elblągu, Olsztyn 1959 [spis sztuk 1949-1959].
XV lat Teatru im. Stefana Jaracza na Warmii i Mazurach 1945-1960, Wydawnictwo „Pojezierze” Olsztyn 1960.
Matuszewski E., W sprawie działalności teatru elbląskiego w latach 1945-1963, Rocznik Elbląski t. 4. 1969.
Prusinowski T., Jest teatr w Olsztynie, Olsztyn 2005, s.80-81.
Sulima-Gillow Roman, Teatr elbląski w latach 1945-1963 [spis sztuk 1949-1963], Rocznik Elbląski t.3, 1966.
Teatry Polskie w trzydziestoleciu (1944–1974), Słownik, nadbitka z „Pamiętnika Teatralnego” 1975 z. 3–4.
Tomczyk R., Elbląska scena Teatru im. St. Jaracza w latach 1964-1967 [spis sztuk], Rocznik Elbląski t. 4. 1969.
Author: Anna Ochman
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