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Diviš Theatre

Josef Skřivánek

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1868 | theatrical association

The “Association of Amateur Actors in Žamberk” came into existence in 1868. The first general meeting of the association took place on 10th November of 1868, shortly after  this they initiated foundation of the Committee for Construction of the Theatre and they commenced negotiations about purchase of a convenient plot  for construction of a stone theatre building.  Finances were raised only slowly and the fulfilment of this intent was delayed until the era of the independent Czechoslovak state.


(detail)1926 | Construction
The project of the theatre was elaborated by architect Josef Skřivánek from Čáslav in February of 1925 and was approved in July of the same year by the Municipal Council in Žamberk. The construction was carried out by local builder Eduard Kovařík, the laying of its foundation stone took place on 23rd May of 1926 and it took a short period of seven months.
(detail)5.12.1926 | opening

The ceremonial opening of the Diviš Theatre took place on 5th December of 1926 by the play „Fidlovačka“ by J. K. Tyl.


(detail)70. 's 20. century | reconstruction

The theatre was closed up from 1975 until April of 1977 due to the conversion of the building to a multifunctional cultural institution.


(detail)1988 | repairs

(detail)1991 | fire

Fire burst out  in the building as a result of short circuit in the night of 8th  February of 1991. Fire was detected in time and liquidated; it was sufficient enough to only to damage the ceiling and trusses over the balcony cloak room and balcony. The theatre was provided by a safety curtain, separating the auditorium from the stage soon after restoration of operation.


(detail)1997 | reconstruction
A general overhaul of the fly loft was carried out in 1997 (the old timber construction was replaced for metal one), the original lighting was replaced by modern stage technology and aesthetic adjustments affected the actual hall and vestibule as well.

People

(detail)Josef Skřivánek |main architect

Architect and builder in Čáslav. He designed and executed an array of private or public building and projects. Especially reconstruction of Dusík Theatre (1923), design of Diviš Theatre in Žamberk (1925), design of front facade of district authority in Čáslav.

In:  Tvrdíková, Lada: Divadelní život v Čáslavi v letech 1869-1923, Bakalářská práce, Masarykova universita,  Brno 2007

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History

The history of amateur theatre in Žamberk is dated back to the end of the 18th century. Amateur actors played at that time with a permission of the castle authorities in a musical hall in the castle that was converted for theatre use at the expense of Countess of Buben and Litice for three thousands Guldens. Even some members of the count family declaimed some shorter passages of   opera works with local amateur actors (Mozart’s “ Magic Flute” was for instance introduced here for several times). They played charitable performances in the so called Manorial House, occasionally they performed in the neighbouring villages: in the hall of the inns in Helvíkovice, Pěčína and Slatina nad Zdobnicí. The castle theatre was closed in 1809, when Žamberk manor was purchased by count Windischgrätz  who liquidated the arrangement of the theatre hall, but donated a part of its equipment to theatricals. Theatrical activity was stopped  for some time by the great fire that ravaged the city in 1810. After the damages had been repaired, the theatricals built up a minor theatre in the inn of Mister Režný (N. 90), they moved later to Modrá hvězda, they played in the inn „U slunce“ (presently N. 87)  and they returned onto the stage of the Manorial House at the end of the 1840, where they had remained until 1868. A half (until 1862) and afterwards only a third of the profits of each performance was for charitable purposes and municipal hospital; a profit from one performance was every year left for theatricals, that played mainly in Czech than German, for the needs of the theatre.

German troupes of travelling actors (the Company of Mr. Pax, the Troupe of Madame Kochanská in 1847 and 1849 and the company of Mr. Stein in 1860) were hosted in Žamberk from 1844 apart from productions of the local theatricals. The Czech Theatrical Company of Madame Vojtěška Prokopová settled in Žamberk in 1864 for the first time and played afterwards thirty five theatre plays in total here under the direction of Alois Merhant. The local theatricals acquired a garden, forest and main curtain with a veduta of  Žamberk in the mid.1860 (none of these pieces has been preserved). The laying of the foundation stone of the National Theatre in Prague was celebrated with a charitable event and summer theatre by the local theatricals (the membership of the association was then composed of seven females and eighteen males) that took place on 1st June of 1868 on the garden of Mr. Mazač. The “Association of Amateur Actors in Žamberk” came into existence in the first half of the same year. The first general meeting of the association that took place on 10th November selected Jan František Mazura as a chairman, Woldemar Mazura as an executive director and Romuald Mazura as a director. The association board did not linger and shortly after the general meeting they initiated foundation of the Committee for Construction of the Theatre and they commenced negotiations about purchase of a convenient plot (at first in the location of the present building of the Grammar school in Lukavská Street) for construction of a permanent stone theatre building, which name should be a salute to Prokop  Diviš (1698–1765), a native from Žamberk and the inventor of lightning conductor.

The association spent 560 Austrian Guldens, from which one hundred was lent to theatricals by the Rifleman Association, for the purchased plot of 275 mdimension in November of 1868. The yield of 2.000 Guldens was generated from a lottery, organized afterwards for the sake of construction in September of 1870. Other finances were raised only slowly and the fulfilment of the desire of generations of Žamberk theatricals for a theatre building was delayed until the era of the independent Czechoslovak state. After an attempt to acquire a building plot in a part of Vojáčkovy orchards had failed for refusal of the municipality, a decision was taken in 1924 that the theatre would be built in the location of the former cottage of Mr. Smutný (N. 39). The project of the theatre was elaborated by architect Josef Skřivánek from Čáslav in February of 1925 and was approved in July of the same year by the Municipal Council in Žamberk. The construction was carried out by local builder Eduard Kovařík, the laying of its foundation stone took place on 23rd May of 1926 and it took a short period of seven months. The ceremonial opening of the Diviš Theatre took place on 5th December of 1926 by play „Fidlovačka“ by J. K. Tyl. The association financed the building not only from the gains of voluntary collection, but from a loan provided by the Municipal Saving Bank. The repayment of debt from proceeds from the entrance fee advanced very slowly and it did not avoid critical moments (a sale to church, which would convert it into a chapel, was a threat after ten years of operation in the Diviš Theatre). The association rented the theatre for cultural and social events to the German garrison that was based in Žamberk military quarters in the era of the Protectorate Bohmen und Mahren, and the hall was used as a cinema as well and for its profits enabled paying back the financial obligations by the theatrical association completely until the end of the Second World War.

Theatrical activity was restricted after 1948 and the unused and unheated building started to decay slowly. The building was transferred under the care of the Factory Club of the National Enterprise Mosilana, which provided the repair of plaster and wiring, adjustment  of the stage and turntable. The theatre was handed over to the Revolutionary Union Movement of the Factory Club of the National Enterprise Kovostav (later  Elitex, Rieter) in 1961; other enterprises, that had a seat in Žamberk,  contributed to operation and occasional repairs as well. A boiler room was reconstructed in 1964. The theatre was closed up from 1975 until April of 1977 due to the conversion of the building to a multifunctional cultural institution. Repairs of the facade and roof were carried out in 1988. Fire burst out  in the building as a result of short circuit in the night of 8th  February of 1991. Fire was detected in time and liquidated; it was sufficient enough to only to damage the ceiling and trusses over the balcony cloak room and balcony. The theatre was provided by a safety curtain, separating the auditorium from the stage soon after restoration of operation. A general overhaul of the fly loft was carried out in 1997 (the old timber construction was replaced for metal one), the original lighting was replaced by modern stage technology and aesthetic adjustments affected the actual hall and vestibule as well.

Present state

The theatre is detached building, standing on moderately sloped terrain, with exterior balancing on the edge between  the National Decorativism (Rondocubism) and modern Classicism. The front facade of the building, composed symmetrically, protrudes with a bay by 3 bay, stepped in plan, that is topped by a mansard roof, covered  with sheet copper, with a small top pavilion. In the parterre, the bay is opened by three oblong entrances with door transom windows; the central entrance is flanked by two cylindrical  three-quarter columns with Cubistic capitals; on the right from it, there is a memorial tablet with a portrait of Prokop Diviš and the year of the construction of the theatre (1926) attached to the facade. In the level of the first floor, the foyer is lit by three narrow, vertically oriented  compound windows, an inscription DIVIŠOVO DIVADLO is inserted above them. The volume of the bay is recessed in the side corners and thus creates small balconies with front balustrade parapets; the identical arrangement is repeated above the crowning cornice only with a tripartite, segmental window in the level of the roof and rear scenery in the form of an attic parapet. The side wings of the building one-storeyed (their parterre has nature of  a semi-basement in relation to the level of the entrance bay because of terrain ascending towards the stage), with facades articulated above the stone base only by austere system of pilaster strips and triangular side gables, which smooth flat is broken by segmental window openings. The auditorium part of the theatre is covered by a saddle roof, on which an exceeded prism of the fly loft is bound. Pylon walls flank the roof above the stage, which is rounded in a quarter circle on two sides; the volume of the fly loft is articulated in relief by recessing embossed cornices and recessed frames. The rear facade of the wing keeps, however, strictly symmetrical layout of opening components in a shape of a ground floor wing, covered by a hip roof (windows, the centrally located entrance). The side communication corridors have aisle roofs.

A single flight staircase leads into the heighten level of the entrances vestibule, on the sides of its embouchure, two flight staircases are located leading into social rooms in the first floor. The oblong vestibule is articulated by four  prismatic trunks, covered by red marble slabs, – similarly as the front wall with sculpture busts of Žamberk natives: inventor Prokop Diviš and composer Petr Eben – and is lit by replicas of historical chandeliers. Cloak rooms and toilets are located at the end of the vestibule of the "U"-shaped plan that is pointed towards communication wings along the stalls. Staircases and operational rooms also have timber panelling, the lightning here is provided by modern lights of segmental forms. The auditorium parterre ascends slantwise through an easy flight of stairs, filled with rows of seats; the balcony is supported by a couple of columns, covered by timber. The ground floor walls have timber panelling; they are covered by ochre textile, which is stretched in a wooden lattice grid, above the cornice and by the rear part of the balcony, that is composed of seven ascending rows of seats. The side segments of the auditorium ceiling, executed in ochre and white colour with contours of simple rectangular frames, are flat. A depressed barrel vault, divided by shallow strips into six sections, is spread over the seats. The auditorium is lit by simple, square or umbonal shape lights. The stage is opened to spectators by a proscenium arch with a rim of rounded profile. Furniture of the auditorium and other social rooms of the theatre is contemporary similarly as forged iron casing of heat units.

 

Literature:

- Miloslav Chvátil, 70 let od postavení Divišova divadla, Žamberské listy roč. 7, 1996, č. 2, s. 1

- Miloslav Chvátil, Úvodem aneb Rekonstrukce divadla, Žamberské listy roč. 8, 1997, č. 19, s. 1

- Jiří Hilmera, Česká divadelní architektura. Praha 1999, s. 107–108

- Almanach Spolku divadelních ochotníků Diviš. 80. let postavení Divišova divadla. Žamberk 2006, s. 4–10

 

Tags: Art deco, Avant-garde, detached building, Interwar period, Neoclassicism, Rondocubism

 

Author: Pavel Panoch

Translator: Jan Purkert

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