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Jirásek's Theatre Česká Lípa

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Important events

(detail)1932 | construction



In 1820, fire in the city consumed a house standing in the location of the present Jirásek's Theatre. Its owner applied for a permit to renovate it not before 1837; he wanted to establish a  tavern Zum alten Saal in the new house among other. Another record is not before the beginning of the 20th  century: a municipal gym was built in this location in 1907 – allegedly on a vacant plot again. This was purchased in 1923 by the gymnastic association Deutscher Turnverein, which decided to reconstruct the building and, among other, convert it for theatre use several years later.

The construction was designed and directed by local builders Josef Schneider, Josef Knobloch and Gustav Breite. The works were carried out during 1931; the completion certificate for “a theatre hall in the new building of the association gym” was issued on 30th December.

According to the record, it was a detached building, only adjacent on one side to the neighbouring house in Panská Street. There was a concierge’s or janitor’s flat in the ground floor (in the basement from the Jiráskova Street side). There was an association room, cloak room, staircase and especially theatre hall with parquet floor and balcony running along three sides of the hall in the first floor ( in the ground floor from the Jiráskova Street). The top floor contained a meeting room, other association rooms and entrance to the balcony. Already at that time, the main entrance to the theatre was from the side of Jiráskova Street, from the exercising ground in the yard.  

The completion certificate was confirmed by the Regional Office not until 15th   September of 1932 „ Although the project does not conform to all the provisions of the quoted law [N. 27 from 27th    March of 1887], none the less it was approved according to the proposal of the committee in relation to the fact  that the actual furnishing of the hall is simple, the stage does not have a fly loft as it is usually common, further that the number of spectators will not exceed 600 persons and finally that theatre performances will take place only occasionally.“ The hall was indeed used only occasionally; theatre was played in a hall of the Apollo restaurant (later Občanská beseda) or in the castle as well in this time as before.

Another examination of the municipal committee proceeded on 30th  September and stated among other that there had been some changes of the original project during the construction: above all, the stage had been enlarged by a projection of a trapezoid shape being 6,5 × 4,5 m in size; this stretched into the parcel of Mr. Dvořák, which had to be purchased. Apart of the main hall, a minor hall being 11,4 × 6,4 m in size was created, in which “a restaurant should be opened “ . The permit to organize occasional theatre performances  was issued on 29th  of December 1932 by the Regional Office.  

At the end of the war, the theatre served as a  sanctuary for refugees. It became property of the city afterwards and it was opened on 27th  October of 1945 already as the Jirásek's Theatre with the play the Lantern by Alois Jirásek played by local amateur actors of the  Jirásek Company.  

When a dilapidated cinema in Bulharská Street was closed because of general reconstruction  in 1965, the Jirásek's Theatre started to serve as a supplementary cinema as well. The required modifications were carried out within the so called Action Z. The temporal arrangement was probably prolonged, because the projection booth was still being enlarged in 1974.   

The gap in the frontage of houses in Panská Street was filled with enlargement of dressing and store rooms into the existing vacant plot in 1969. Before that, there were some proposals for construction of a 4m high backstage extension above the stage; however, construction in the vacant plot seemed to be more convenient. Designs for park transformation of the entrance area towards Jiráskova Street are dated back to 1971.

The year 1976 is on an unrealized project for an extension of the scenery store in the north east corner between the stage and dressing rooms. Similarly as the other projects, it was designed by the Engineering Organization of ONV in Česká Lípa.

The present appearance of the theatre has been determined first of all by a large reconstruction from the end of the 1970s, about which no records have been preserved in the building archive. Worth to mention is only the alteration of the hall that was provided with new facing, chandelier and sloping floor with new seats;  modifications of the remaining space has not been exceptional in any way from the low quality production of that time. Walling up high windows on the side wall of the hall, still depicted on the post-war photographs, and exchange of the majority of the remaining for standardized single-casement windows only reinforced the utilitarian character of the building devoid of any architectural qualities.

In 1980, the area in front of the theatre was given a bust of Alois Jirásek on a high plinth that used to stand in the park in front of the cinema in Bulharská Street.

Probably the last major reconstruction of the interior was carried out after the existing flat of the housekeeper in the ground floor to Panská Streer had been excluded from housing resources in 1985 as uninhabitable and its space was used for enlargement of an operational background by its tenant at that time ( the Club of Workers). The theatre was given a new facade in 1990.

The Jirásek's Theatre was rented in 1992 by the Art Agency AGNEZ. Since 2005, the theatre is run by the city of Česká Lípa again as a part of the House of Culture Crystal. The first large reconstruction project of the dilapidated theatre came into existence in 1997. It was elaborated by Bohumil Zelenka on the basis of a survey by the ANTA atelier from the previous year; the documentation to zoning decision from 1996 was signed by K. Scheib and  Tomáš Velinský. The design contained construction of rooms on the sides of the entrance wing with a new north foyer and a small entrance hall from Panská Street. The auditorium was to be given a steep gradient up to the level of the balcony, from which only short arms in the front on the sides would remain and the ceiling should have been given facing from suspended acoustic panels. Despite the building permit was being prolonged still in 1999, the implementation of the project has not commenced.     

The planned reconstruction of the theatre was postponed indefinitely by a plan to rather construct a new theatre. A multipurpose culture centre should have been erected between Sokolská, Tržní a Prokopa Holého streets and should have contained even the listed Knobloch’s Inn. From 12 designs, submitted in the competition for a new building, the committee selected the design by Jaromír Pizinger (MORIX, s. r. o.). The problematic design, which did not include preservation of the older building and was contrary to the conditions, caused hostility among experts and public, however, the city representatives insisted on its realization. They abandoned it only when it was clear that the city would not have enough finance.

The project of the old theatre reconstruction was revived and its limits and possibilities were verified in 2009 by a survey by Antonín Odvárka. The city announced public competition for the design of the reconstruction of the existing building a year later. It was won by the architect Adam  Rujbr from Brno (Adam Rujbr Architects s. r. o.) that is about to be implemented in 2012.

The existing building is going to be completely modernized and complemented by new parts. The main entrance is going to be relocated in Panská Street, where a new foyer is going to come into existence; a new foyer is going to be erected on the north side as well. Steep gradient is going to be installed up to the level of the existing balcony; a passageway under such raised rear part of the auditorium will interconnect Panská and Jiráskova streets. A cafe is going to be located in the front wing and technical and operational backstage is going to be enlarged as well.  

Present state

The architecturally indistinct main building is located  on the parcel between Panská and Jiráskova streets. The main entrance is accessed from the north through a clearance and yard in Jiráskova Street. The rear wing is formed by a terraced house in Panská Street.

The two storey street elevation with an oblong saddle roof with dormers is articulated only by rectangular doors and window openings. The main wing is adjoined by a low extension, similarly of a two storey. A perpendicular entrance wing with a foyer is adjoined to the left section of the oblong hall wing from the yard’s side. There is a flat terrace in the first floor above the entrance. Its cornice continues on the facade of the entrance section on the left and on the flat wall of the auditorium section on the right, which is articulated apart of  it only by two large doors from the auditorium and one window in the first floor.  

There is a foyer with cloak rooms with timber panelled walls up to the two thirds of its height behind the main entrance. There is a staircase to the first floor on the left behind the lavatories and entrance to the auditorium in the front wall.

The oblong hall with a flat ceiling and floor of only moderate  gradient. The auditorium is circa 18 × 15 × 6 m in size and is surrounded on three sides by a balcony, which white parapet is articulated only by a curve in the central part of the front wall. A lighting booth is located in the rear behind the balcony. The balcony is accessed from the first floor.

The walls of the hall have timber panelling in the lower section, the remaining flats of the walls and the central part in the ceiling are covered with leatherette panels that are decoratively articulated. The hall is lit by a chandelier in the middle of the ceiling and by lamps on the side walls. The forestage (an unused orchestra pit) is deeply projected in front of the proscenium arch into the auditorium. In this arrangement, the hall has a capacity of 360 seats. The backstage, a parlour with a capacity of 50 seats and theatre bar are located behind the hall, in the street wing.


Sources and literature:

–  Městský úřad Česká Lípa, spisovna stavebního úřadu, spis domu čp. 219 (Jiráskovo divadlo)

–  Alfred Javorin, Divadla a divadelní sály v českých zemích: I. Divadla, Praha 1949, s. 35–36

–  Eva Markgrafová, Alfou i omegou jsou peníze: Polemika kolem investice do divadelní budovy pokračuje, Českolipský deník (Deníky Bohemia) 8, 2000, č. 204 (1. 9.), s. 7

–  Jarek Hylebrant, Architekti: Už máme divadlo, zvítězil návrh J. Pizingera, Českolipský deník (Deníky Bohemia) 10, 2002, č. 219 (19. 9.), s. 15

–  mip (Michael Polák), Architekti prohráli spor o divadlo, MF Dnes 15, 2004, č. 8 (10. 1.), s. C2

–  Michael Polák, Stavba divadla připomíná totalitu, MF Dnes 18, 2007, č. 6 (8. 1.), s. D3

–  Eva Vlastníková, Záměr stavby nového divadla se oddaluje, nejsou peníze, on-line: http://ceskolipsky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/zamer-stavby-noveho-divadla-se-oddaluje-20081121.html (vyhledáno 24. 11. 2011)

–  Eva Vlastníková, Architekt navrhne podobu oprav Jiráskova divadla, on-line: http://ceskolipsky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/architekt-navrhne-podobu-oprav-divadla-20090311.html (vyhledáno 24. 11. 2011)

–  Eva Vlastníková, Opraví Jiráskovo divadlo, nové nepostaví, on-line: http://ceskolipsky.denik.cz/zpravy_region/cl-opravi-jiraskovo-divadlo20090529.html (vyhledáno 24. 11. 2011)

–  ČTK, Rekonstrukce českolipského divadla začne asi příští rok, 28. 6. 2011, on-line: http://divadlo.prod.fishcms.cz/rekonstrukce-ceskolipskeho-divadla-zacne-asi-prist (vyhledáno 24. 11. 2011)

–  Kateřina Kotková, Rekonstrukce Jiráskova divadla, on-line: http://www.i-noviny.cz/ceska-lipa/rekonstrukce-jiraskova-divadla (vyhledáno 24. 11. 2011)

–  Rekonstrukce Jiráskova divadla, on-line: http://www.mucl.cz/cz/urad-a-samosprava/aktualne-z-odboru/odbor-rozvoje-majetku-a-investic/rekonstrukce-jiraskova-divadla-1298277057/ (vyhledáno 24. 11. 2011)


Tags: First Czechoslovak Republic, detached building


Author: Jiří Bláha

Translator: Jan Purkert

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