enczsksiplhudeitsvhrespt
/ enMain menu 
Navigation:  Theatre Database
EN | CS

Highland Theatre

Jan Vančura, Miroslav Melena, Tomáš Brix, Vladimír Krátký, Václav Králíček

alias Regional District Theatre Jihlava (1950-1952), Regional District Theatre Jihlava - Horácké Theatre (1952- 1958)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1632 | Construction
The former convent of Capuchins was built 1631–1632 and was abolished in 1788 by Joseph II.
(detail)16.11.1850 | Opening
The former church and convent was converted into a theatre building by unknown architect, and it was ceremonially opened with a play the Educational Methods by F. von Elsholz.
(detail)40. 's 20. century | Reconstruction
The entrance from Komenského Street was removed on the beginning of the 1940s according to the design by Brno architect E. Leo and a new one was erected from Divadelní Street with a portico, supported by two prismatic columns in functionalist architecture.
(detail)50. 's 20. century | Reconstruction
Some major building modifications were carried out in the interior in the 1950s, during which the stage was enlarged, auditorium reconstructed and seats exchanged. Despite this, the theatre building ceased to be sufficient for cultural representation of a regional centre already at that time and its rooms gradually became only a temporary solution. The situation culminated in the 1980s, when the theatre building ended up in a critical state, probably because of long-term neglect of maintenance.
(detail)1991 | architectural competition
New competition for a building in the released area was announced in 1991.From three awarded designs, the victorious was the one by the team of Miroslav Melena, Václav Králíček, Tomáš Brix, JanVančura and Vladimír Krátký, who designed  a theatre   with an uncomplicated, post modern, almost puristic facade with clear references to the ancient and classicist architecture.
(detail)90. 's 20. century | Reconstruction
The first studies that were later worked out came into existence in 1991 and the building certificate was issued in 1995.  

People

Jan Vančura |main architect
(detail)Miroslav Melena |main architect

A stage designer, an architect and a teacher died on August 8, 2008. He studied at the College of Pedagogy in Cyril Bouda’s and Karel Lidický’s studios and later at Theatre Faculty, Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under František Tröster. In 1967 he started working as a stage designer in Ostrava Theatre of Petr Bezruč, from 1969 he worked in Liberec Naive Theatre and later on he cooperated mainly with Prague Theatre Y. In the years 1980 to 1981 he was a head of stage design in Maribor. In 1972, at Serbian Novy Sad Triennale he was awarded a winning price for a setting designed for a play The Earl Monte Christo. Among the outstanding features of Melena’s stage designs belongs blending of scene and costumes in their almost provocative variability calling up reminiscence to surrealistic performances of the 20’s. However, next to scenography Melena gradually expressed himself more and more as a theatre designer – mostly as a head of multi-member team. Thus he gave a new resemblance to auditoriums and scenes of Brno Municipal Theatre, Prague Theatre Fidlovačka, Horácké Theatre in Jihlava, Municipal Theatre in Sokolov, Brno Reduta and lastly to Semafor Theatre. All of his stages distinguish themselves by ingenious stage design, and by dispositionally functional and smart to sight, sometimes also lively colourful appearance of the auditorium. The most salient among his projects was a solution of Prague Theatre Archa where a system of movable tables which fill the whole space enables a free open arrangement of the stage and the auditorium according to individual stage designer’s needs. As an exhibition designer Melena gave a very rich inventional shape to an exhibition of his teacher František Tröster’s life-work in 1991. Melena worked as a Head of Architecture Department at Faculty of Architecture and Arts, Technical University in Liberec. His creed of a theatre architect was expressed in an article he published in a cultural weekly magazine A2 (2007, issue 24). Here he confessed his love to Classical Theatre for its perfect solution of an audience and actor relationship, but also mutual relationship among spectators and their art experience. Melena did not agree with Baroque theatre’s introduction of stage portal which he called “absorber of theatricality”. However he did not hesitate to take over from the Baroque heritage a system of boxes or side slips. He believed their implication lead to a desired contact among the audience during the performance and to reach such goal a consistent arched tract of rows were to be used. Death caught Melena by surprise in the middle of his work on plans of a new Ostrava Theatre of Petr Bezruč, New Scene of Prague National Theatre and Brno Janacek Opera. (Jiří Hilmera)

More theatres

Tomáš Brix |main architect
Vladimír Krátký |main architect
(detail)Václav Králíček |main architect

Contemporary Czech architect, who was working some time in atelier SIAL.

Source: SIAL

More theatres

History

Theatre tradition in Jihlava is dated back to the 16th century, when the city reached the peak of prosperity because of extensive cloth industry. According to the preserved records, touring  companies started to appear in the city and brought first theatre performances to the Jihlava townsmen. Apart of this, the oldest “comedies” played by students of the town school are  recorded already in 1512. Great blooming of student theatre occurred after 1561 in relation to constitution of a Latin classical lyceum and the theatre was of the highest importance in the 1590s. Students played in the town hall or at the square on a simple wooden stage. One of the participants was Jan of Wallenstein, later  the lord of Brtnice, who allegedly visited the Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

In the 17th century, the theatre tradition was taken over by disciples of Jesuit grammar school that was founded in 1625 and their performances gradually became a constituent of religious celebrations in the town. From 1727 until 1768, when the theatrical activity of students was finally banned, the students’ performances took place in a theatre hall in the third floor of the grammar school in Hluboká Street (the building of the district court in the present days).

Apart of this, also secular theatre in Jihlava was gradually acquiring its position being inspired by religious subjects and was made for instance by craft journeymen. The secular theatre took place also in the mentioned hall, for instance there is a record of an opera performance for the year 1740 and regular playing after 1750 according to the accessible sources.

After 1792, a new theatre space in Jihlava was the chapel of St. Elisabeth (Komenského St.29) that was converted for this use standing against the present theatre. This confined space hosted even operas, for instance the Mozart’s Magic Flute in 1825. However, the confined area of the originally religious space together with security issues were a motive that theatre productions were moved in 1825 into a hall in the second floor of the U tří knížat inn (presently the Masaryk Square) with a capacity of circa 300 spectators. Even this was not sufficient for a city of such importance as Jihlava with its 20 000 inhabitants was in the 19th century. Famously high quality reached the music life and that was mainly because of the music association that was founded in 1819. Although the city representatives were considering construction of a new theatre building, Jihlava was going through a hard period of cloth industry decline and the city did not have such financial means at disposal.

The unfavourable situation for the theatre enthusiasts was resolved by an unexpected step of local producer of iron merchandise Johan Okonski, who purchased the dilapidated building of the former church and convent of Capuchins in the Špitálská St. (Komenského in the present) and unexpectedly decided to convert its room into a theatre building. The former convent of Capuchins was built 1631–1632 and was abolished in 1788 by Joseph II. Afterwards its space served to a cloth factory of F. Götz. The building should have been returned to the church in 1844, however that  has never happened in the end and the structure was acquired by mentioned Johan Okonski. For gaining finance for building conversion, he had a proclamation to the city inhabitants be printed at the beginning of 1850 in the Jihlava Sonntagsblatt periodic. Due to this incentive, 502 shares were subscribed and the rest of the needed amount of 600 was taken over by the city; Okonski thus succeeded in gaining 6 000 Guldens that were indispensable for the conversion of the existing area of the monastery. A building permit was issued in the same year and the theatre, newly reconstructed by unknown architect, ceremonially opened with a play the Educational Methods by F. von Elsholz

The entire building was purchased for 14 000 Guldens by the city six years after the opening of the theatre. The city gradually replaced wooden supporting columns of boxes and gallery by iron ones in 1856 and installed gas lighting in 1870, replaced by electric in 1908. Emergency exits and  fire staircase were built in 1881. The entrance from Komenského Street was removed on the beginning of the 1940s according to the design by Brno architect E. Leo and a new one was erected from Divadelní Street with a portico, supported by two prismatic columns in functionalist architecture, that led to an entrance hall with a rehearsal room, offices and workshops.

Czech performances were forbidden in the theatre building in Jihlava until 1918 and therefore the hall of the hotel Czap ( the Worker’s House in the present) was used for Czech plays in the second half of the 19th century. Community theatre associations started to emerge apart the Czech touring actors since 1870s. A foundation meeting of the Amateur Theatre Association Klicpera took place in the inn u Nieweltů (Židovská 12) in 1888. Its activity did not have long duration, especially because of insufficient background and for unfavourable attitude of the city representatives. The situation of the Czech theatre in Jihlava was changed not until 1920, when the theatre season was evenly divided into Czech and German part. It turned in favour of the German theatre again already after 1940 – the Jihlava stage was seized by the association Deutsches Theater Iglau-Znaim.

An idea of establishing a permanent professional theatre was born amidst the circles of Czech theatre enthusiasts in this hard time for the Czech theatre. Its promoters met in  Třebíč in 1939, later in Jihlava, Německý Brod  and in Velké Meziříčí. The result was acquisition of a licence for an art company of thirty members that started to exist under the name Horácké Theatre. It rehearsed in the National House in Třebíč from 1940, where the play Court of Love by Jaroslav Vrchlický premiered on 18th October of the same year and officially commenced the activity of the Horácké Theatre. The seat of the Horácké Theatre became the municipal theatre in Jihlava that was less used in the complicated political situation of that time after 1945. Its ensemble was a basis of the Regional Theatre, which kept the name Horácké even after 1948 though.  

Some major building modifications were carried out in the interior in the 1950s, during which the stage was enlarged, auditorium reconstructed and seats exchanged. A storage facility was added in the close vicinity of the theatre building in Komenského Street. Despite this, the theatre building ceased to be sufficient for cultural representation of a regional centre already at that time and its rooms gradually became only a temporary solution. Furthermore, the city and the  political representation concentrated their attention and finances on construction of the House of Culture that was erected on the periphery of the historical centre between 1955–1961 and which component was a theatre hall that was more convenient for representation of the new socialist society. The situation culminated in the 1980s, when the theatre building ended up in a critical state, probably because of long-term neglect of maintenance.

A   new theatre building was designed in ateliers of the Jihlava Stavoprojekt around 1990. Its implementation was excessively delayed because of  financial and organizational reasons, furthermore the design was probably influenced by somehow “majestic” socialist planning, which was manifested by insensitive approach to the historic development in the surrounding of the historical  building. A part of preparatory works was among other demolition of a Baroque house and entire historical block of houses that was originally adjacent to the old theatre building, from which only the wall of the main elevation to the Komenského Street remained. These demolition works were suspended in the time, when the local theatricals and their supporters came out against them without compromise.

In the end, a new competition for a building in the released area was announced in 1991 in cooperation with the Society of Czech Architects. This new architectural contest demonstrated that a concept of a corner theatre building in a historical context is not simple at all. From three awarded designs, the victorious was the one by the team of Miroslav Melena, Václav Králíček, Tomáš Brix, JanVančura and Vladimír Krátký, who designed  a theatre   with an uncomplicated, post modern, almost puristic facade with clear references to the ancient and classicist architecture. In its interior, the authors attempted to extend the former historical block and surrounding intimate environment of a historical centre by a multi-storey asymmetrical passage. The first studies that were later worked out came into existence in 1991 and the building certificate was issued in 1995.   

The final appearance thus proceeded from harmonic cooperation of the mentioned authors, who  were already renown in that time. For instance Václav Králíček presented his capabilities for creation of   theatre space already by the realization of the Goose on a String Theatre in Brno, Tomáš Brix created excellent buildings of community and public area on Prague suburbs Stodůlky, Lužiny and Nové Butovice, Miroslav Melena was known for his highly evaluated realizations and reconstructions of theatre stages and interiors for instance in Prague Archa Theatre and City Theatre in Brno. The team was completed by experiences of stage designer Jan Vančura and architect Vladimír Krátký.

Present state

The present building does not serve only to the actual theatre, we can find the already mentioned arcade with a restaurant, small gallery and space of the minor stage in the interior of the building. The building is spread out at the corner of Divadelní and Komenského streets, in the location, where the original historical theatre was located. The new building incorporated even the Baroque house that stood originally on the corner of the mentioned streets in its layout. The interior arrangement of the building is clearly distinguished between  a section with a theatre hall in the location behind the original historical facade,  the public section with a multi-storey arcade and the operational section of the theatre that comprises the east part of the building. A part of the theatre is also a wing that is adjacent to the south side of the historical facade serving as backstage as well.

The building has in essence  a simple, clearly articulated facade with stone walling, its elevation to Divadelní Street is   segmentally bowed. The corner of Divadelní and Komenského streets is highlighted by glass walls with a look through to the adjacent staircase and column with a stylized antique base and capital. A reference to classical perception is also a crowning cornice of the building.

The side facade to Divadelní Street is broken by square and oblong windows and the ground floor is formed by an arcade, supported by three pilasters that cover the main entrances in the building arcade. A part of the west elevation is also the historical facade of the original city theatre that is composed of a superposition of Doric and Corinthian orders that is conceived in a classical manner, a massive crowning cornice and triangular gable. In the first floor, the fragment of the historical elevation is articulated  by five windows that are topped a half-arch and in the ground floor by three windows and recesses. The light is led through all the windows into vestibules and foyers of the theatre. The postmodern facade is connected with the historical one by a glass link, in which ground floor the main entrance to the building is located. That leads into the mentioned passageway, where we can find a cash desk of the theatre and other commercial rooms on the left in the ground floor and a restaurant in the first floor and an area of the minor theatre stage in the second floor. The opposite glass wall, which is segmentally bowed and follows the circumferential wall of the auditorium by its shape, serves as the main  supply of light for the adjacent galleries of the theatre section of the building. This area is accessed from the ground floor passage through a main entrance, composed of a couple of wooden, glazed double-leaf doors with a central mullion topped by a capital. The ground floor of the theatre section serves to a vestibule with cloak rooms, from where it is possible to ascend through a single-flight staircase with wooden steps into foyers that flank the theatre hall with entrances to the balcony and gallery of the theatre. The intimate and at the same time majestic room of the vestibule with a staircase and galleries is highlighted by columns of a bare reinforced concrete construction that is covered  with stone. Three levels of galleries encircle the auditorium circumference of a classical horse-shoe shape and the lowest one is located in the lowest point of the parterre with a steep gradient. Three levels of boxes are shifted by one level from the galleries. There is a suspended ceiling following the auditorium plan with embedded lights.

A minor theatre stage is a component of the theatre building in the second floor of the north section. It is an oblong hall with maximally variable space that is interconnected with the main stage by a bridge. The second stage is also used as a rehearsal room and therefore it is connected to the operational section of the theatre by an entrance on its east side.

 

Literature:

–  František Marek, William Shakespeare a jihlavská divadelní tradice, Jihlava 1964, s. 9–10

–  Hana Vrbová, Nároží jako hlavolam, Architekt, 1992, č. 4, s. 4–5

–  Karel Křesadlo, Jihlavská divadelní tradice, in: Miloš Stránský – Lubomír Zubař – Vladimír Volf (eds.), Horácké divadlo Jihlava 1940–1995, Jihlava 1995, nestránkováno

–  Petr Kratochvíl, Horácké divadlo, Architekt, 1996, č. 3, s. 10–13

–  Jiří Hilmera, Česká divadelní architektura, Praha 1999, s. 21–22, 172

–  Divadelní budova a její proměny v čase, in: Horácké divadlo Jihlava 2005–2010, Jihlava 2010, nestránkováno

–  Marie Zdeňková, Josef Vomáčka, Miroslav Melena: scénograf a architekt, Praha 2011, s.154–158

 

Tags: Contemporary era, Neo-Renaissance, Postmodern architecture, prestige building, terraced house

 

Author: Ludmila Hůrková

Translator: Jan Purkert

Additional information

No information has yet been entered

Add information

Name: The name will be published

Email: The email will not be published

Information: Please enter information about this theatre, at least 10 characters

sevenpluseight=