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Quite a Great Theatre

František Nuska

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1911 | opening

(detail)1952 | reconstruction


František Nuska |main architect
Miloslav Hrouda |architect


The building of the present-day Quite a Great Theatre in Litvínov ( until 1947 Horní Litvínov,  Oberleutensdorf in German) was built as a gym and community hall for Deutsches Turnverein. The German gymnastic society, founded in 1868 in Horní Litvínov, was one of the many similar societies not only in Bohemian but also in German cities. The Turner movement, based on a gymnastic program of Friedrich Jahn, was similar to the Sokol movement in the Czech speaking parts of Bohemia and both supported ideas of national solidarity and patriotism. However, during the era of the first Czechoslovak republic, the movement got politicized in the Bohemia and it became a paramilitary organization under the leadership of Konrád Henlein endorsing separatist endeavour of the German minority. The buildings that were built by the Turner societies, „Turnhalle“ (literary  „gym“), were analogical to the Sokol halls of their Czech counterparts; with a regard to a more numerous membership and stronger financial background of German contractors, the buildings  were often of very imposing architecture. Understandably, they served as multipurpose facilities for community and cultural purposes as well apart of the sport.

The „Turnhalle“ in Litvínov was designed by municipal builder František Nuska (1846–1910) in 1910, the designs were subscribed for contractor and the construction works were supervised by manufacturer Wilhelm Keller. The house was being erected after the death of Nuska in 1911 and it was probably completed in the very same year. A part of the community centre with a gym and restaurant was a large garden behind the building and a small park in front of it where a monument used to stand until 1945 with a memorial plaque of the founder of the Turner movement F. Jahn. In an engaged ground floor (labelled as a basement in the designs), there was technical background and kitchen, rehearsal room in the rear and a community saloon and chapel with a sacristy by the side elevation. The building was entered through an entrance in a short front elevation. The majority of the upper floors was occupied by a large hall that penetrated through storeys, with two balconies (in the rear and on the side wall), there was a place for an orchestra in the rear behind the hall in the location of the present day stage, there was a stage in the front (the present day cloak room and bar), used as background for a choir. A community room was in the side wing being adjacent to the hall and a club saloon in the second floor.  

The appearance of facades was modified against the designs as they acquired considerably more modern appearance with more geometrical decor. The attics of the bay originally carried inscription: „Deutsches / Vereinshaus / 1. D. T. V. [1. Deutscher Turn-Verein] / Turnhalle“ (German Community House / 1. German gymnastic society / gym). The remnants of the inscription on the side facade are badly readable, they were replaced in the front by a more recent inscription „ZÁVODNÍ KLUB ROH / KORDA n. p.“ (Factory Club of the Revolutionary Union Movement / KORDA National Enterprise)  

The edifice underwent some minor, partial alterations even before the middle of the 20th century. It is evident from the designs from 1950 that a part of a longitudinal extension by the rear wall was already built behind the present-day stage that was additionally attached to the building. Perhaps the gym was converted into a theatre before the war – at least, it is passed on in the theatre that conversion into a concert hall and theatre was incited by the owner of a textile factory in Litvínov E. G. Pick; however, it was not possible to verify this information.

The building was extensively modified in 1952. “Alteration of the Red House inn into a factory club Korda“ was carried out to the design that was two years older by architect Hrouda (perhaps Miloslav Hrouda, later active in Ústí nad Labem?). The reconstruction costs were estimated in advance to be 3 600 000 Crowns, the reconstruction works were carried out by the Joint Communal Enterprise in Litvínov. The main hall with a flat floor was converted during the reconstruction into a raked, well furnished theatre with a balcony along the rear wall, a minor hall came into existence in the ground floor for puppet theatre and a cinema with a separate entrance. The main entrance into the building was transferred into the side elevation (the existing one was walled up) and changes were implemented in the operational and technical background as well. The terrain in the vicinity of the theatre did not avoid modifications as well.  

Another, obviously minor alteration was implemented in 1961 already for the factory club Benar (Cotton Factory Benešov nad Ploučnicí). The evidently rarely used hall was devoid of a rake and wooden panelling and perhaps a restaurant was inserted here already at this time, in which the alteration from the 1950s is commemorated up to the present days a small stage that was left here – and it is still used from time to time.

The factory club Benar (including the surrounding “park of culture and relaxation Benar“) then became a popular culture facility where dance parties or concerts of popular groups in the 1970s. The building was known as the factory club Benar long after 1989 before the entire building was even closed completely for a short time. The restaurant in the ground floor has been holding the name Benar until the present days.

The building was acquired in August of 1996 by Mr and Mrs Jana and Jurij Galinovi who opened Quite a Great Theatre here on 20th December. (The name is a reference to the big name of culture in Litvínov in the 1960s Quite a Small Theatre of Mirek  Kovařík that had its base in the Musical School, the later People’s School of Art, demolished in 1970.) Private professional theatre with a permanent company of ten members and many collaborators even among actors from Prague is a remarkable anomaly and it is almost incredible that it has succeeded in maintaining a high standard of performances for children or for adults already for almost 20 years.  

The Quite a Great Theatre carried out only some minor alterations in the building. In the antechamber in the second floor (with an entrance onto the balcony), a chamber studio stage was altered in 2006 for the performance of Electra, a bar and club came into existence down by the cloakrooms and directly in the hall, the forestage was enlarged by a system of removable parallels.


Present state

The building of the Quite a Large Theatre stands northwards from the náměstí Míru (Peace Square) and from the remnants of the historical centre, towards which it is oriented by its shorter elevation that originally used to be the entrance one. The longer side (west) elevation, oriented into Rooseveltova St. (formerly Schillerstrasse), is embedded into the slope in the rear section due to the inclination of the terrain. From the view from the side, from Rooseveltova St., the articulation of the building mirrors its inner layout. There are two bays along sides of the lower central section, with walled up high windows of the main hall, - the one closer to the city with a foyer with the cloakrooms and bar, the one in the rear with the stage and its background. The original symmetry of the elevation has been disrupted only by a more recent extension behind the stage. By the view from the front, from the city, the higher section by the length of the hall is separated from the lower side wing with a staircase and background. The facades have modest geometric articulation. The shorter front elevation has three window axes on a higher bay, four smaller on the side wing. There are three rows of smaller windows in the upper floors (some of them are walled up) and one large in the ground floor on the lateral side of the bay. Five windows in the hall of the central wing are walled up, the bay of the fly loft is completely devoid of windows. Both the bays are topped by attics with accentuated corners. The side wing that is oriented to the park has a gate for supply and doors into the balcony in the first floor in the unarticulated facade apart of windows, the rear technical wing has facades without articulation. A low wall is adjacent to the building on the side to the park, behind which a store facility is hidden, embedded along the longer side under the terrain and under the access ramp, leading from the rear section of the house.

 The main entrance into the building is located in the side elevation since the reconstruction in 1952. One can access the wide U stairs to the first floor through a large vestibule. The cloakroom and bar are entered above on the left, operational rooms along the hall are entered on the right ( there is a rehearsal room in the design from 1952 that is possible to use as well as an exhibition hall).

A large room with a cloakroom and bar is located along the front elevation in the first floor. The main hall is entered through a couple of doors that are located above short staircases on the sides of the cloak room. Behind the cloakroom, which is embedded under the balcony, there is a lightning and sound booth from the side of the hall. The oblong auditorium is raked with rows of seats without the central aisle. The capacity of the hall is 360 seats.

The hall has been preserved without any large alteration in a characteristic appearance for that period as having been imprinted by the reconstruction in 1952. The side walls are trimmed with stucco frames that are aerodynamically shaped, along its bottom section, a row of lights is inserted on both the sides. There are two ventilation openings in the ceiling. A new forestage with short staircases from the auditorium on the sides is in front of the proscenium arch that is simply shaped.

The balcony is entered through a short staircase and through a minor chamber stage in the front in the second floor. The entire background (including for instance a costume rental) is located at the side wing and extension behind the stage.


Sources and literature:

 -   Městský úřad Litvínov, archiv stavebního úřadu, spis domu čp. 279

-   stránky o historii Litvínova a okolí: http://litvinov.sator.eu



Author: Jiří Bláha

Translator: Jan Purkert

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