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The Small Venue

Josef Zasche

alias Central Puppet Theatre (1950- 1987), Kleine Bühne Neues deutsches Theater in Prag (1923-1944), Theatre by the Tower (1987-1988), Theatre by the Jindřišská Tower (1988-1991), Minor (1991-1999), Theatre of Young Pioneers (1945-1949), Kammerspiele (1941-1944)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1908 | Construction

The theatre hall was a part of a house that was built in 1906 – 1908 according to the design by Josef Zasche in the style of the Geometric Modern. It assumed the name „ By Three Rides“ from an older demolished house and known relief with a scene, where two riders pursue the third and shoot at him, that was put again of a modernistic facade.


(detail)31.12.1921 | Opening

The Prague German Theatre “Kleine Bühne” played from 1921 provisionally in the yard and construction of a permanent stage followed in 1923 – 1924 according to the design by the same architect as of the main house Josef Zasche. The yard extension was connected with the street building not only by the person of the architect, but by the expression as well.


(detail)1940 | reconstruction

Reconstruction in 1940 affected mainly wiring and decoration of the walls, seats were interchanged and the total capacity of the hall was reduced.


(detail)1999 | demolition

Demolition of the yard wing in July 1999 was related to the reconstruction of the complex of the Slovanský Dům.  In the time of demolition, the building was not listed as a cultural monument, although its cultural and historical importance was evident.


People

(detail)Josef Zasche |main architect

A prominent architect of the Art Nouveau and Modernism styles was of German background, studied a technical college in Liberec and then architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna by professor Karl von Hasenauer. After his return to Bohemia, he designed the Feast of the Cross Church for the Old Catholic Church in 1902-1903 in his hometown that is one of the most important sacral buildings in the Art Nouveau style in the Czech Republic. He became one of the few architects of the German nationality who acquired important contracts in Prague in the interwar period. He designed an array of palace buildings and villas. He participated on realization of the Palace of Viennese Bank Union Na Příkopech in 1906-1908, cooperated with Pavel Janák on the construction of a palace of an insurance company Riunione Adriatica di Sicurtà  – Palác Adria on the  Národní Avenue (1922-1925), designed villas in Bubeneč. Zasche was respected by the members of the Czech Avant-garde, which protested against his resettlement after the World War II that was eventually implemented.

More theatres

Alfréd Pollak |architect
Anton Möse |builder

History

The building of the of the now non-existent German Small Venue (Kleine Bühne) was located on the grounds of the present day Slovanský (formerly Německý / German/ ) House, in the rear section of its garden. It served to the German professional theatre group between 1923 – 1944. The theatre together with the German House  was confiscated as a property of the Nazi Germany and its new owner became the city of Prague. The theatre was entered  through a corridor of the house N. 29/866 from the present day Senovážné náměstí. One could enter into the theatre directly from a corridor in the house „U tří jezdců“  (Zu den drei Reitern) N. 28/869. A house from 17th century was demolished here in 1907 and the association Deutsches Haus had a new community house be erected in 1908 to the design by German architect Josef Zasche (1871–1957). The architect transferred the coat of arms from the baroque house into the gable of this new structure, conceived in the style of Geometric Art Nouveau. A troupe of Prague German theatre “Kleine Bühne” was performing in the yard in interim conditions and the alteration of the existing hall was carried out between 1923 – 1924 to the design by the architect of the Community House Josef Zasche (builder Anton Möse).  Zasche had an entrance hall be erected to the yard elevation that was opened by three semicircular-topped windows,  which he had be walled up, and the hall be closed between two two-storey blocks  - the representative section with a distinctive triangular gable and a foyer at one side and the section with a stage at the other.

Thus a new theatre building came into existence in a moderate Neo-Classicist style of the 1920s. Alfréd Pollak built a sober, functionalist, two-storey building with operational rooms to the stage in 1929. The theatre was entered through two entrances directly from the foyer with a cloakroom and a staircase to the balcony. A narrow corridor of 12,5 m in length was adjacent to the foyer and flanked a rectangular auditorium, which was accessible through three entrances. When the performance was over, the spectators could use two exits from the corridor. The raked auditorium was 22.5 m long, 10 m wide and 7 m high. There were 278 seats in the parterre without boxes and 105 on the balcony. The proscenium arch was 7 wide and 4,5 m high. The stage was 10 m wide, 7 m deep and 9 m high.  The theatre was without an orchestra pit or trap rooms. A storage room and electrician's room were located under the stage, a prop room, cabinetry etc. were under the auditorium. A smaller building was build up to the stage sector where the architect  inserted a cabinetry and storeroom  and it was connected through a direct entrance with the stage. The first floor served to office purposes  and dressing rooms. The interior of the hall was repeatedly modified. 

 

The first performance in Czech at Kleine Bühne venue took place on 7th July of 1945 when the venue was taken over for a short time by the drama section of the 5th May Theatre that also took over of the New German Theatre. The Young Pioneers Theatre, funded by the Union of Czech Young,  moved into the building in 1949. The venue served to a puppet theatre after 1949 (it was a predecessor of the Minor Theatre: Theatre by the Tower, Theatre by the Jindřišská Tower, Minor – a theatre of an actor and puppet from 1991). The theatre building at the Senovážné Square was demolished within alteration of the Slovanský Dům in July of 1999 and the Minor Theatre changed its residency to a new address in Vodičkova Street.

 

Literature:

 

Alfred Javorin, Divadla a divadelní sály v českých krajích. Díl I. – Divadla, Praha 1949, s. 218-220.

Růžena Baťková a kol., Umělecké památky Prahy. Nové Město/Vyšehrad, Praha 1998, s. 485-486.

Josef Lukeš, Splátka dluhu. Praha a její německy hovořící architekti 1900-1938. Praha 2002, s. 204-213.

Jitka Ludvová, Až k hořkému konci. Pražské německé divadlo 1845 – 1945. Praha 2012, s. 762­-763.

 

Tags: chamber theatre, extinct theatre, Geometric Modernism, yard extension

 

Author: Markéta Svobodová

Translator: Jan Purkert

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