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Theatre without a Balustrade

Josef Zasche

alias Cinema Moskva, Cinema Adria, Theatre Behind a Gate, Laterna Magika
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1925 | Opening
Completion date of the building after construction works were executed in 1922-25.
(detail)1959 | Reconstruction
Reconstruction of the hall for the needs of Laterna Magika according the design by František Cubr, Josef Hrubý and Zdeňek Pokorný.
(detail)1972 | Theatre Za Branou with stage manager O. Krejča

(detail)1997 | Overhauling


(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.

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(detail)Josef Hrubý |architect

He worked in Stavoprojekt atelier being a representative of Functionalism, respectively of so called International style. His pavilion in Expo 58 became a template of modelling new architecture and design, labelled as so called Brusels style.

Source: Archiweb

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(detail)Jiří Jiroudek |architect
Architect, co-projectant of general reconstruction from 1996-97.

(detail)Daniel Pokorný |architect
Architect, co-projectant of general reconstruction from 1996-97.

(detail)Marie Švobová |architect
Architect, co-projectant of general reconstruction from 1996-97.

(detail)Pavel Janák |architect

Czech architect, designer and theoretician. He cooperated with Jan Kotěra (realization of exhibition hall on Jubilee exhibition in 1908). After First World War he turned to new artistic styles, which came out from ideas about national form of architecture, later he inclined to Functionalism and engaged in urbanism.

In: Adéla Anna Vavrečková: Živé příběhy. Divadelní budovy v Olomouci a v Moravské Ostravě. Brno2007. Diplomová práce. Note 67.

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Otto Gutfreund |sculptor
(detail)Jan Štursa |sculptor

One of the founders of the Czech modern sculpture. At first, he was influenced by Art Nouveau symbolisms, but later he inclined to sensual approach of depicting a female body. He reacted in his work to experiences from the front lines. The after war relief The NINERA player (1919) heralded the aesthetics of Civilism. He created mainly portraits in the last years of his life.


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Karel Dvořák |sculptor
(detail)Franta Anýž |interior designer

He was initially manufacturing  jewelry and items from iron and leather in Art Nouveau style with characteristical floral ornaments. He founded a modern iron founding firm (Anyž - later Zukov) and cooperated with significant sculptors and architects on realization of their works (Municipal house, St. Vitus cathedral). He was manufacturing illuminants, which connected  high quality of workmanship with simple shapes.

In: Prostor - AD

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The theatre is placed at a former space of Adria cinema located at the underground floor levels of house 36-II at the corner of Jungmann Street and National Avenue. (The cinema was named Moskva in the 1950‘s.)

The Adria Palace was established in 1922 to 1925 after Josef Zasche project. The author of the exterior is Pavel Janák. In December 1958 it was approved that Laterna Magica would reside here. Thus the space was adopted to the needs of Laterna Magica in the first half of 1959 using plans carried out by František Zubra, Josef Hrubý and Zdeněk Pokorný. During this reconstruction some original stucco decorations were removed. Some similar ones can be stil seen today above the roundel in front of the theatre entrance. Since 1965 we would find Theatre Behind the Gate operating here under Otomar Krejča’s directions.  This theatre was closed by the political powers in 1972. After the year 1989 the theatre was able to reopen for a short time but in 1994 it ended it operation. During the time between 1996 and 1997 the whole building undergone a complex reconstruction carried out according to a project by Jiří Jiroudek, Marie Švobová and Daniel Pokorný. Consequently, Theatre without a Balustrade directed by Karel Heřmánek moved to this newly reconstructed building from its original place in Vysočany Gong. The new ensemble’s name gave a new title to this newly opened stage.

The auditorium has a capacity of 320 seats. There are fifteen straight rows of a very fast elevation in the parterre. The wall behind the last row opens with two wide windows of technical cabins. On the both sides of this back wall we can find separate sections of a side slip with three step-like rows of seats. Next to them there are fenderless, wheel chair accessible, side boxes. The slip’s wings in between the boxes and the stage are spared for the light equipment. The slip, the boxes and the technical wings are covered with a smooth sill made of dark brown tinted wood placed above the whole length running brass strip. Similar wooden veneer is used for the side parterre walls. The stage portal looks are suppressed, the stage’s flat floor penetrates into the auditorium as a front stage of an arched ground floor plan, flanked with light slim panels in the whole space height.

The entrance and the common room’s areas just as well as the auditorium excel with severe noble elegance.

Employed sources and literature:

- Baťková,  Růžena: Umělecké památky Prahy – Nové Město, Vyšehrad, Vinohrady; Praha 1998, s. 201-202 (stať Rostislava Šváchy).

- Hilmera, Jiří: Stavební historie pražských kinosálů; in: Iluminace 10/1998, č. 2, s. 120-122.



Tags: Interwar period, Contemporary era, Art deco, terraced house, theatre hall


Author: Jiří Hilmera

Translator: Hana Atcheson

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