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Theatre in the House of Catholic Journeymen in Ostrava

František Fiala, František Grossmann

alias City Theatre of Youth (1948-1955), Theatre of Youth (1945-1948), Petr Bezruč Theatre (1955-1960)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)10. 's 20. century | construction

Construction of Theatre in House of Catholic journeyman in Ostrava took place in 1910-1911 according the design by František Grossmann and František Fiala from Moravian Ostrava.


(detail)X.5.1911 | Opening

The construction works were finished and the complex started to be utilized in May 1911.


(detail)40. 's 20. century | reconstruction

In 1942-1943, reconstruction of theatre part adaptation took place according the design by builder Bohuslav Krýsa.


(detail)29.8.1944 | fire

 The theatre building was hit by an Allied air strike on 29th.  August 1944. Along with it, all the theatres in Protectorate were closed up from 1st September 1944 in the connection of the war-time situation. Repair works followed from December 1944 to November 1945.


(detail)13.12.1945 | reopening

Theatre of Youth initiated its operation on 1. 12. 1945 by play How John was learning to be afraid, officially then by premiere of Andrew and the dragon byViktora Dyk on 13. 12. 1945.


(detail)1963 | Closing

The building ownership was transferred to Czech television in 1963, in following years, the stage was reconstructed for TV studio purposes.


People

(detail)František Fiala |main architect

Czech architect and city planner, significant disciple of Wagner´s school. Disciple of most important Czech architects Kotěra and Gočár. He participated on many public tenders, but usually ended up on second or third position. He worked out an alternative design for Lower Part regulation (1923, Prague) for instance.

In:

More theatres

František Grossmann |main architect
(detail)Bohuslav Krýsa |builder
Builder in Moravian Ostrava, author of theatre part adaptation in 1942-1943.

History

 The need of creating a centre of cultural and social activities of Catholic oriented workers and petty traders in Moravská Ostrava led to the construction of the House of Catholic Journeymen according to the design by the building firm of František Grossmann and František Fiala from Moravská Ostrava. These founded the joint firm in 1907 and participated on important constructions in the surrounding area. Architect F. Fiala studied at high school in Opava. He commenced the studies in the  Technical University in Brno and finished it in 1899-1900 in a special architecture school of Viennese Academy of Fine Arts by professor Otto Wagner. He joined the activity of the Catholic Modernist movement, among others he published  designs of a chapel and modern Catholic church in the magazine the New life between 1903-1904. The newly founded building firm of Grossmann  and  Fiala participated on the completion of the construction of the church of the Crowning of the Virgin Mary in Mariánské Hory according to the design by Ostrava architect Otokara Bém. The firm constructed the Neo Romanesque church of Virgin Mary the Rosary in nearby Hrabůvka according to their own design in 1909-1910. Mentioned realizations of Catholic churches, references relating to it and involvement of F. Fiala in  Catholic circles were probably the reasons why the Ostrava Catholic associations assigned the project and subsequent realization of the House of Catholic Journeymen to the mentioned firm.  

The building permit from 30th August 1910 states that “ the Association of Catholic Journeymen  in Moravská Ostrava intends to construct  a building for association rooms with a hall for meeting organization, amateur actors’ theatres, concerts and so on in the garden of the house N. 136 in Přívozská Street as a three storey building. This building should contain apart of a meeting hall, which is designed in the  dimension of 16m length, 10m width and 7.9m height,  two minor cloakrooms and a toilet, further on a restaurant veranda in the ground floor, association rooms, in which a bar licence would be run for the members of Catholic associations and a guest room […]Apart this, the hall should have  a gallery, which would be accessible with a special staircase[…] the Grand hall, which could accommodate in total a little less than 600 persons along with a gallery, should be attached to the neighbouring plot by one lateral side and by the  rear part of the stage so it remain open on two sides[…].As much as the rooms distribution and construction implementation of the entire building concerns, it is sufficient to  refer to the submitted designs with a remark that the hall,  stage,  gallery and ground floor part of the association house and veranda have designed ferroconcrete ceilings.“

Complex had been finished and set to operation in May 1911.

Architektonický obzor (Architectural horizons) periodical published the following description of the entire complex in its April issue in 1912: “The house has been constructed at the expenses of the Association in the location of an old sanitary building and it consists of two buildings. There is a residential house, accessible from the street, with a passage to the   yard. It has trade rooms (shops with storage rooms) and in storeys always two flats with three rooms with corresponding lateral rooms. There is a detached room with a hallway and lavatory on the right next to the staircase.

The yard building – the Associational – is two storeyed. In its ground floor, there are: a  social room,  main vestibule, bar and restaurant kitchen. The hall (10 × 16 m) in the ground floor has a stage (10 × 8 m) completely with modern equipment, under which is a cellar for scenery storage space and two small dressing rooms. A corridor leading to the stage and to two small dressing rooms  is accessible by a special entrance from the yard. There is a grand social hall with one main and two lateral balconies, 2 editorial rooms and a guest room. There is an iron chamber (1,56 × 1,5 m) in the corner of the hall for picture projection on the stage. A barrel vault with lunettes was executed from the reinforced concrete as well as other ceilings of the building and stage. “

The biggest part of the complex was so far hitherto preserved four storey house of a rectangular layout, with an attic roof with fired tiles, in a linear housing development. The street elevation is of five bays, on the sides with triangular oriels with terraces in the level of the third floor. It is crowned by a triangular gable, later elevated and provided with windows after another floor had been built up. The front facade is decorated by decorative details, in late Art Nouveau style, and by a combination of smooth and textured plaster. Decorating cartouche motifs, shallow figurative reliefs of antiquity presentation, astragals or linear motifs articulate the front facade flat with oblong windows, made exceptional by wagon openings of the entrances to terraces in the level of the third floor. The house layout is two bays, in the rear bay with a two flight staircase with a metal banister. There used to be a separate volume of the hall being accessible only with a central passage from the street. The building was only partially cellared, two storeyed in the front entrance part and in the rear part by the stage and it mainly consisted of an oblong hall with a gallery, accessible with  a two flight staircase in the front bay. The hall was topped up by a decoratively embellished ceiling with lunettes.

The theatre stage in the hall functioned occasionally. Only with a restriction of the Czech theatre life in Moravská Ostrava under the German occupation in the Protectorate,  a more systematic theatre operation evolved in this space since 1942. Therefore the owner at that time - Národní odborová ústředna zaměstnanecká (National trade-union centre of employers) let the building be rearranged in the layout, especially the theatre background was enlarged according to the design by builder Bohuslav Krýsa. Two dressing rooms were enlarged, outer staircase was transferred, separated toilets came into existence by dressing rooms, original lavatories for spectators underwent repairs, cloakrooms were added in the entrance hall and one left  the hall through two new exits.

The building was hit by a bomb during an air strike on Moravská Ostrava on 29th August 1944. Simultaneously all the theatres were closed up on the Protectorate territory in relation of the  state of war. Theatre repairs were carried out since December 1944 until November 1945 and subsequently during the summer holidays in 1946, but this did not prevent that it was used for theatre plays since the end of 1945.

Reading group Spray emerged in Ostrava after the liberation.  Theatre, evolved from this association, operated in the theatre space in Přívozská Street under various names since the end of the year 1945 until 1960. It was led by Karel Dittler since 1946. It was instituted by Československý svaz mládeže (the Czechoslovakian Union of Young People) initially. The first performance of the new theatre, renamed The Theatre of the Young, occurred, as it is usually asserted, on 1st December of 1945 with the play How John was learning to be afraid. The new theatre activity was, however, initiated officially on 13th December of the same year with the premier play Andrew and the dragon by Viktor Dyk. The theatre was renamed Městské divadlo mladých (Municipal Theatre of the Young)  in relation with validity of the new theatre law and political constellation after the February coup d´etat and its promoter was Jednotný národní výbor ( the United National Committee) in Ostrava. The institution changed the name again in 1955, this time to be Divadlo Petra Bezruče (Petr Bezruč  Theatre).  

From all the renovations, we can mention the one from 1948, when a new proscenium arch was erected , set in front of the older one. Another extension and rearrangement of the operational rooms and stage occurred in the first half of the 1950s and afterwards in 1956 and 1958, carried out by national enterprise Bytostav. Mentioned interferences were utilitarian in nature and did not have any architectural or art ambitions. However, even this did not resolved eliminating the defects of the building, which was not conceived for a larger theatre venue  spatially and in the layout.

Alfred Javorin described the spatial layout and operating equipment of the theatre in the second half of the 1940s as follows: The auditorium had a total capacity of 346 seats in the ground floor and balcony and it was 20 m long, 9.5 m wide and 10 m high. The deviation from the original dimension of the hall can be ascribed to the renovations or rather to the inaccuracy of the data. The theatre had a 12 m wide and 2 m deep orchestra pit. The proscenium arch was 6.45 m wide and 4.5 high. Two curtains hanged here, both textile. The stage with ,5 × 5,4–5,7 m dimension did not lack a trap room, the backcloth was black. The extent of the stage area was relatively confined: it was 7 m in width and 5 m in depth. The stage was equipped by 12 fly lines, the lighting was composed of 17 spotlights and of rheostat with 24 fly bars. There was a theatre store room under the stage. The small theatre background was comprised of two dressing rooms and  office.

The hall became a core of a television studio Ostrava in the 1960s. Actually a broadcasting studio with the required technical background was established in it, thereby the original architectural layout i.e. the auditorium and stage had perished. The building has been completely incorporated into a  larger whole having emerged by interconnection of the former theatre building with the house in linear housing in Přívozská Street and a the more recent building of the television studio, accessible form   Dvořákova Street.  The mentioned civic house with preserved late Art Nouveau frontage and internal equipment including two flight staircases, however, without the theatre wing was proclaimed an immovable culture monument by Ministry of Culture in 1992 and it is listed in the Central list of culture monuments under registration number12119/8-3306.

 

Literature:

– František Grossmann – František Fiala, Dům katolických tovaryšů v Mor. Ostravě, Architektonický obzor XI, 1912, s. 46 a tab. 20

– Alfred Javorin, Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích I, Praha 1949, s. 162

– Pavel Zatloukal, O Moravské Ostravě jako „rezervaci“ architektury pozdní secese a art déco, in: Ostrava: Příspěvky k dějinám a současnosti Ostravy a Ostravska 18, Ostrava 1997, s. 170

– Jindřich Vybíral, Zrození velkoměsta: Architektura let 1890–1938 v obraze Moravské Ostravy, Ostrava – Brno 2003, s. 61 a 64

– JŠt [Jiří Štefanides]: Divadelní budovy a sály, in: Kulturněhistorická encyklopedie Slezska a severovýchodní Moravy I (A-M), Ostrava 2005, s, 192

– JŠt [Jiří Štefanides]: Divadlo Petra Bezruče, tamtéž, s. 200–201.

 

Tags: Art Nouveau, Austria-Hungary, Belle Époque, Fin de siècle, yard extension

 

Author: Strakoš Martin

Translator: Jan Purkert

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