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Town Theatre Pelhřimov

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1707 | construction

The building of the theatre was erected in 1707 as a storage facility for salt. It is a detached building, adjacent only by one side to the neighbouring building of a museum.


(detail)1896 | reconstruction

It was reconstructed in 1895–1896  for a Neo-Classicist style „National House“, in which a stage was set up. The building became more a more a theatre building in the course of the time as it was being remodelled.


(detail)1972 | reconstruction 1968-1972

People

Jan Libersbach |architect
Karel Brynda |architect

History

In Pelhřimov, theatre performances were being staged already at the end of the 18th century, first records of public theatre production date back to the 1780. The theatre production was growing in the first half of the 19th century thanks to Czech and German touring theatre companies (for instance “ The First Czech Actors’ Company for the Country”) and a lot of amateur performances was played in the city under the influence of the national revivalist endeavour  that was gaining strength and was incited especially by the students of Pelhřimov.

General  atmosphere of a  remote small town underwent a large transformation after 1850 when Pelhřimov became a seat of judicial and political district, which brought about a new boost for  revivalist activity and growth of Czech national self-confidence. Nationally conscious citizens in the city gradually founded a large number of associations, among others a community theatre association in 1861, which ceases to exist after two years though.  Afterwards, the community theatre was being developed within the community club “Záboj Choir” and entertainment section of the Sokol where foremost students were engaged in theatre. The first organized community association came into existence not before 1894 under the name Union of Amateur Theatre Actors in Pelhřimov, since 1905 known under the name Rieger.

There was no special theatre hall in  Pelhřimov until 1852. Touring companies, which were paying visits to Pelhřimov until this time, performed in the hall of the inn „U Valserů“ (U Labutě), which was located in the house N. 199 next to the church of St. Vitus, or in the hall of the inn „U Martinců“, where the hotel Slavie is located today. Flowering of the Czech community theatre in Pelhřimov in the first half of the 19th century induced the owner of the inn „V Lázních“ to have a spacious hall be erected next to the building, where the theatre company of J. K. Tyla performed among others as well.

Rich civic associational activity required larger and more dignified rooms in the course of time that would fit its always expanding activities. In support of construction of a associational (National) house  in Pelhřimov, a national celebration was organized in 1888 with a parade through the city and floral celebration in Orchards in 1893. The outcome of the endeavour of the nationally oriented associations with the Union of Amateur Theatre Actors in the head was the foundation of the Association for Construction of a National House in Pelhřimov in 1895. The building of a salt storehouse was selected as a building fit for conversion into a National House that was originally built as a state storehouse of the salt monopoly in 1707. The building burnt out in 1766 and later was used as a granary. Immediately after foundation of the association,  collections for its reconstruction were organized and the construction begun in the very same year.

The new national house was built to the design by builder from Pelhřimov Stanislav  Rokos in the Neo-classicist style. The original four storey building was extended by about six meters on the north east. The joint cooperative, which should have realized the building, got into financial troubles a year later and completion had to be taken care of by the municipal purse.  Money were being saved on the construction so its technical state was in serious disrepair almost shortly after completion and the National house escaped to official closure only because the firm Vlk managed to erect a new ceiling using ferro-concrete construction.  The National House was officially opened at 13th September of 1896 and the Union of Amateur Theatre Actors staged a ceremonial performance, the drama Jan Výrava by František  Adolf Šubert.    

The new National house did not serve only to theatre, members of the Sokol movement exercised here, lectures of public and political figures were taking place here and it became a public reading room as well. Viktor Ponrepo staged here a series of performances with a cinematograph.

The building of the National House underwent three alterations in the interwar period. Balconies and galleries were built before 1922. Then the building was costly reconstructed by architect Václav Němec  in such a manner that it would fit the contemporary requirements for theatre production.  A two flight staircase was inserted instead of side gate into the original salt storehouse. The Rieger Association contributed to the new stage equipment, new reclining seats appeared in the auditorium, by which the building complied to requirements to theatre,  cinema, lecture and amusement purposes. Central heating was adjusted and enlarged at the end of the 1920s.

A plaque commemorating the visit of T. G. Masaryk in 1910 was unveiled on the building of the National House in 1928. The National House acquired a new turntable and for that, this stage jointed the best equipped amateur venues in Bohemia lands.  In 1940, a cyclorama was acquired as well as a new proscenium arch, electrical lighting was improved and dressing rooms were constructed.

A new building of a cinema and a cultural house in its vicinity was built between 1960-1962. A large part of the cultural life of the city moved into these two new buildings and the National House served afterwards exclusively as a municipal theatre. The last reconstruction was carried out at the end of the 1960s when there was newly conceived the interior of the theatre auditorium, red plush seats and wooden panelling of the walls and the original stucco décor of the hall was removed having contained depiction national leaders  František  Palacký, Miroslav  Tyrš, Karel Havlíček and Karel  Sládkovský in reliefs. Stucco décor has been preserved only partially in staircase halls.

The building of the theatre is located at the border of the historical core of the city, by Solná Street, in the location where there were the city fortification. The building of a rectangular layout is covered by a saddle roof with corner attics. A distinctive crowning cornice enclose all the elevations. The entrance elevation is oriented towards north; the most distinctive element is a portico in the first floor with a stone balustrade.  Storeys of three bay facade of the building are articulated by a high pilaster order with volute capitals, between which floral festoons are to be found. The facade is broken by circular windows the between pilasters in the second floor and two niches with straight cornices in the first floor. There is a large, glass French window in the middle of the facade with a distinctive semicircle profiled archivolt and voussoir. The ground floor is modelled by band rustication that continues up to the west elevation to Solní Street. This longer elevation is of 13 bays, broken in the first floor by windows with semicircle arch with triangle and segmental window mouldings. There are rectangular windows in the second floor with straight cornices above the windows and chambranles that are decorated by volutes. The motif from the entrance, north facade is repeated in the middle of the elevation with a giant pilaster order in the first and second floor, there are openings between pilasters that are arched by a semicircle and two portals leading to the first floor of the theatre. There is a stucco crest of the city in the second floor above the portals.

The building is of a rectangular layout with an extension of cloakrooms at the east, which north section is composed of a rather narrow tract, where a hall is located with a two-flight staircase in all the storeys. These rooms are the only ones that have preserved the original stucco decor, especially it can be found above the entrances into the staircase in the first floor, which are composed of portals with a semicircle arch with profiled archivolt, above which crossed branches are made in stucco. The ceiling is moulded by a stucco mirror with vegetable band and stucco circle around the main chandelier by Miluše Roubíčková.       

Large vestibules are connected onto staircase halls in the first and second floor, with a tapestry by  Jaroslava Pešicová in the first floor. The auditorium of the theatre hall with red plush seats is panelled in the ground floor by wooden panels that can be found on the parapet of the front balcony and on the narrow arms of galleries on the both side walls. There are bands of wooden panelling at the ceiling as well, the space between them is complemented by glass chandeliers by René  Roubíček.

 

Literature:

Jiří Černý, Obraz města architektuře 19.a20.století, Pelhřimov 1996, s. 8-19

Marie Dojavová, Tajemství zdí města Pelhřimova, Pelhřimov 2002, s. 54                                                            

Jiří Hilmera, Česká divadelní architektura, Praha 1999, s.50

Miroslava Kvášová, Zmizelé Čechy – Pelhřimov, Praha-Pelhřimov 2008, s. 39-40

Zdeněk Martínek (ed.), Pelhřimov, Praha 2014, s. 301, 316,332,333, 358, 361, 362, 380, 393, 397, 406, 425, 432, 435, 478


 

 

Tags: Neo-Renaissance, Austria-Hungary

 

Authors: Ludmila Hůrková, Jiří Bláha

Translator: Jan Purkert

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