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A. V. Šembera's Theatre

Vincenc Mašek

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)20. century | early development

A pioneer of theatre became A. V. Šembera, who performed the first theatre performance in the inn „U zlaté koruny“ (By Golden Crown). Students played in the city in a theatre hall of the Lichtengerg’s inn on the square. Amateur actors played in the hall of Panský dům on the main square since 1862 and in 1870, they relocated their productions into a hall of the inn „U bílého koníčka“ (By white horse).


(detail)1918 | association
"The Association for Construction and Maintenance of a Theatre in Vysoké Mýto“ was established during the First World War in April of 1918.
(detail)1924 | construction

The foundation stone for a theatre building was laid on 5th of October of 1924. The realization of the structure, which architect was builder Vincenc Mašek from Vysoké Mýto and which building was secured by the firm „První orlická stavebna“ (the first Orlice building firm) from Vysoké Mýto, proceeded without any more serious complications and thus the new theatre building could be handed over to its purpose on 9th of August 1925.


(detail)1925 | opening
The ceremonial opening of the theatre was provided by the play Princezna Pampeliška (the Princess Dandelion) with participation of its authors playwright Jaroslav Kvapil and music composer Josef Bohuslav Foerster.

People

Vincenc Mašek |main architect
Milan Košař |architect

History

A local native, young student of the grammar school in Litomyšl A. V. Šembera, who performed the first theatre performance in the inn „U zlaté koruny“ (By a Golden Crown) with his friends despite official prohibition issued by  the burgomaster, became  a pioneer of theatre in Vysoké Mýto. Students played in a theatre hall of Lichtengerg’s inn on the square seven times a year, some performances even in German after 1845. A student association „Imentomoráci“ was active in the city after 1846 as well. Czech promoters of drama art submitted a request to the city council that a permanent stage should be established in a newly built school building on the square. Amateur actors played in a hall of the Panský dům on the main square after 1862 and after its confiscation by municipal authorities in 1870, they relocated their productions into a hall of the inn „U bílého koníčka“ (by White Horse) on the Litomyšl suburb. Conflagration struck the inn in the same year and it consumed the stage as well. A pause of theatre activity endured only for  a short time, the amateur actors introduced plays on a new venue already in May of 1873; however, they were playing on other stages in the city as well as for instance in the house Na střelnici. The first intents for construction of a theatre building originated in this period – in February of 1872. The initiative of the mayor of that time J. B. Tůma has remained unrealized. Perhaps for this failure as well, the activity of amateur actors diminished gradually in the last quarter of the 19th century; the theatrical association had been dissolved and its fundus was administrated by the musical section of the chorus association Otakar.

 

Theatrical performances were played on a new stage in the inn „U koruny“ and in inn „U lyry“¨of Mr. Hanuš in the first decades of the 20th century. An independent fund was established in 1909 by the drama section of the choir association Otakar for gathering finance for construction of a building dedicated to organizing theatre productions. The independent “Association for Construction and Maintenance of a Theatre in Vysoké Mýto“ was established during the First World War in April of 1918. Not long afterwards in August of 1920, Vysoké Mýto natives, sisters Weinfurther donated a plot on the Prague suburb to the Association with a condition that this plot should be used only for construction of a theatre. This plan had been abandoned because of presumably high costs, but the Association did not cease to search for a convenient location and finally in 1924, it bought the hotel „Zlatá hvězda“ (Gold Star) with the adjacent garden from Mr. Kolášek at the same suburb. After a necessary adjustment of the garden had been executed, the foundation stone for a theatre building was laid on 5th of October of 1924. The realization of the structure, which architect was builder Vincenc Mašek from Vysoké Mýto and which building was secured by the firm „První orlická stavebna“ (the First Orlice Building Firm) from Vysoké Mýto, proceeded without any more serious complications and thus the new theatre building could be handed over to public on 9th of August 1925. The construction costs reached the sum of 750.000 Crowns. The ceremonial opening of the theatre was secured by the play Princezna Pampeliška (the Princess Dandelion) with participation of its authors, playwright Jaroslav Kvapil and music composer Josef Bohuslav Foerster. There were originally 448 seats and 130 standing rooms in the theatre hall. The theatre stage was enlarged in the rear part into the plot of Mr. G. Weisse. The  municipality made a  pavement from granite cubes.

 

The first more extensive repair of the Šembera Theatre was carried out shortly after the end of the Second World War in 1945. The Association Šembera dealt with the thought of constructing a new theatre building on the location, donated by sisters Weinfurther, but it has not been realized. The theatre underwent the last major reconstruction, renovation of the interior was designed by architect Milan Košař.

 

Present state

 

One storey building, freely inserted into street frontage of a circular communication around the historical core of the city, is dominated by a plastically softly moulded front elevation, divided into seven bays. It is characterized by   calm, however  somewhat exaggerated scale of architectural segments and rhythmical monotony. The moderately projecting central five bay part is articulated by massive pilasters of a giant order. There is a semicircular balcony, arched in the first floor, with circular openings with wickerwork in a walled parapet above the bay entrance. Capitals of columns carry a crowning cornice that is  richly embossed and supported by profiled brackets and protrudes before the frontage of the building. The buildings silhouette is topped by an attic wall, articulated by a combination of segmental   pillarets. Classicising aesthetics of the entire street frontage including pilaster strips in the short side segments is close in style to the so called “National Style” , a sort of a curved version of the pre-war pyramidal Cubism. The lateral sides of the theatre, separated by yard passageways from the neighbouring buildings, and unarticulated facade as well are executed completely in an utilitarian manner without any art ambitions.

 

Interior

 

A vestibule, located behind the doors,  is handled in width and furnished by contemporary furniture. A commemorative  stucco relief is inserted  above the doors to the theatre hall with a portrait of A.V. Šembera (1807-1882) from the year 1926. Corridor wings with cloakrooms are joint with both the ends of the vestibule. The auditorium ground floor with a gradually ascending floor has twelve continuous rows of seats, there are another six rows, separated into three sections by a couple of corridors, on the balcony, which front wall is protruded towards the stage by two semicircles. The walls of the auditorium above the level of the parterre and the auditorium ceiling as well are divided into a pattern of geometrical flats with relief shading (figures of semi-circular ends of portals of the walls, oblong frames with recessed segments on the ceiling), which geometrical forms (rectangles, quarter and semicircular sectors, sharp edges) react to supple expressional means of the National Decorativism, the official art style of the 1920s. Rondocubistic relief framing is applied on the sides of the rectangular proscenium arch,  the forestage is protruded in front of it. The present colouring of the interior is handled in a combination of white and two shades of ochre brown, even pinkish colour. The auditorium lighting is composed of a combination of original droplights (in a shape of a low cylinder, rounded in a semicircular way on the end) and modern lights of a umbonal shape, distributed on the walls of the hall.

 

 

Literature:

- Alfréd Javorin, Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích. I. Divadla. Praha 1949, s. 304-306.

- Jan Hnát, Vysoké Mýto v boji za národní samostatnost, Vysoké Mýto 1934, s. 61-63.

- Radim Dvořák, Vysoké Mýto průvodce městem a jeho dějinami. Havlíčkův Brod 1961, s. 32.

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

- Radim Dvořák, Vysoké mýto stručné dějiny města. Ústí nad Orlicí 2003, s. 85.

- J. Klíma, Vysoké Mýto tradice a současnost. Vysoké Mýto, 2004, s. 124-125.

- Vysoké Mýto má opět divadlo!, Trs 4, č. 20, s. 5.

 

Tags: Art deco, Interwar period

 

Author: Pavel Panoch

Translator: Jan Purkert

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