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Passage Theatre

Zdeňek Baueršíma

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(detail)9.9.2005 | opening

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History

The circumstances of the construction of the Passage Theatre are distinctly connected to the rich theatre tradition in Třebíč. The town in the south west Moravia gradually became a rapidly growing settlement with an advanced industrial capacity, especially boot-and-shoe-industry and leather manufacturing. Despite Czech population here prevailed, the town was run by wealthier and influential German minority. This did not impede development of Czech associational life, which aim was to oppose the mentioned German influence. One of its successes was a second attempt to found the Měšťanská beseda in 1861.

Great support for awareness of the national distinctiveness was represented in this period and not only in Třebíč by theatre being played by touring troupes and students' theatre. For theatre performances in Třebíč in the 19th century, it was used the space of a granary for forage above a horse barn in the yard of the post office, in the present day house called „Na staré poště“ at the Charles Square. Theatre was played in By the Black Eagle pub and in a hall in the Shooting Range as well. Theatre performances were held in the Arena of the municipal brewery as well after 1864.

In Třebíč, the year of 1867 became a symbol of the victory of Czech representatives in the elections to the city council. Shortly afterwards, there arose a possibility of building an appropriate  residence, the so called National House for Czech associational life. The house of N. 58 at the upper section of the present day Charles Square was purchased for this purpose. The building plans were submitted by builder of the Besední House in Brno Karel Tebich and the construction works were carried out in 1871- 1872 by mason master Martin Herzán in 1871- 1872. A large part of costs was covered by a fundraising campaign that was organized in the city and it surroundings.  

The stage of the National House was used not only by touring troupes, but by local societies as was Vesna, Lumír and Akademický feriální klub as well. In 1909, the theatre society Vrchlický was founded in Třebíč and the first performance of the newly founded Highland Theatre took place on 18th October of 1940. Its main venue had remained the National House until 1944 when the occupation authorities suspended its theatre production.

The theatre and social life was organized from higher authorities through the District Educational Board not only in the National House, but probably in the entire Třebíč as well. Building modification of the hall was carried out and the stage was enlarged in 1956. The house carried the name House of Education of Bedřich Václavek after 1959. Apart of that, a large hall of the cinema World served as another theatre venue in this period as well.

Strong tradition of community theatre remained in Třebíč even in the period  after 1948. From 193O, the Drama Company performed in Třebíč, later the Drama and Theatre Studio. One of the reasons of the termination of its activity in 1965 was an insufficient possibility of organizing large theatre performances in the city.  The space of the National House was considered to be confined already at that time. According to the words of Vítek Caha in the book Theatre consecrated by enthusiasm: “ There was nothing done after 1957 that would have improved the situation and the city of forty thousand inhabitants is still waiting for its cultural centre, respectable and proportional to the size of the city”.

                The beginning of the 1980s in Třebíč was marked by a series of large demolition works, especially at the southwest corner of the historical city, that continued until the beginnings of the 1990s. A frequented road connecting Brno with South Bohemia was opened in 1983. A newly released south side of the Masaryk’s Square was meant to serve to buildings representing a prosperous district town according to the standards of the period.

The building of the District Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (the present day Fórum) was built here in 1985. The built-up area should have continued in the south line with a multipurpose cultural facility, which should have replaced the mentioned insufficient space in a grandiose manner for more demanding theatre performances.  

A project for construction of a new theatre building in Třebíč started emerging after 1985 in the Stavoprojekt company of that time in Jihlava on the basis of a little competition within the company. The design was gradually acquiring its final appearance in the atelier being led by architect Zdeňek Baueršíma. Demolition works in the former Smrtelná Street were initiated at the beginning of 1990,  the Sokol gym hall was pulled down as well. Thus the space for the future large construction of the theatre and cinema was being prepared. First excavation works were initiated for the planned building in 1990 as well. This was originally government contract that became municipal and was stopped in 1993. The shell construction was conserved. In 1993, only a cinema section was completed.   

This situation remained until 1999 when the Society for Completion and Opening of the Theatre was founded by some citizens of Třebíč. The society got the attention not only of the city but large public as well with its publications and beneficial events, by which they tried to draw attention not only of Třebíč citizens to the incomplete, large construction site in the vicinity of the historical centre. This endeavour was crowned with great success in 2000 when the city announced public competition for completion of the  Třebíč theatre. Supervision of the completion was eventually assigned to the atelier STA from Jihlava and to architect Pavel Fousek. The theatre was ceremonially opened on 9th September of 2005.

The construction continued on the building foundations, designed at the end of the 1980s and the project had not been essentially modified during the construction.  The work of the atelier from Jihlava consisted mainly of technical innovations and adaptation of the design to the more recent requirements.

Thus a building came into existence being of a late international style,  conformed to the  representative architecture of the Normalization period of the 1980s that is characterized by large futile volumes that are grandiosely conceived and rooms assembled together often without any respect to the surrounding area.                                            

 

Present state

 

The present day theatre hall is a part of a large  complex that is labelled as the Passage Congress Centre (Kongresové centrum Pasáž).  Another part of the building is a cinema hall as well and relatively large rooms that are used to various social events.  The inner spatial layout is well perceivable at the front elevation of the building. The section with a cinema hall is located at the west side being connected with the east wing through a glass link with a ground floor passage that crosses the former Smrtelná street.  The volume of the theatre hall with the adjacent large foyer protrudes from the front elevation of the theatre in the shape of a concrete block with a glass front wall, which is supported by rectangular pillars in lower floors. The pillars in the ground floor support a balcony with a massive concrete parapet that encircles the front elevation. The concept of elevation layout accents the contrast of the white stone cladding and dark glass paneling.

The simple inner layout of the building is transparent and functional, divided into three storeys. The ground floor vestibule serves as an entrance area of the theatre and cinema. Its space is replicated  in the grandiose space of cloak rooms, serving to other purposes as well, by its location and size in the first floor and in the second floor, in a large foyer where light penetrates not only through the glass wall on the north, but through a drum of the roof as well. The bright space is accentuated by an iron, star chandelier. The theatre auditorium is entered in the highest point of a slightly ascending parterre from the foyer through two entrances. The auditorium of the theatre hall with 523 seats has a plan of the shape of an incomplete circular section, which rear segmental side is manifested in the shape of the south wall of the foyer. The hall is topped by a suspended acoustic ceiling of a shape of a canopy. The walls are covered with acoustic panelling with dark grey and bright bands. The space is adapted to cinema use as well. The east wing of the building with the main staircase is dedicated to operational rooms of the theatre and to a small ballet hall in the second floor. Cloak rooms and foyer of the theatre are embellished by paintings (views of Třebíč) by Vlastimil Toman, then in the foyer, there is a tapestry by Karel Láznička and relief paintings by Jaroslav Šerých.

 

Literature:

Stavební archiv města Třebíče, Stavební dokumentace divadla Pasáž, čp.1323

Vítek Caha, Divadlo posvěcené nadšením – Třebíč ve službách Thálie 1945-1965, Třebíč 2003, s.7,25,75,77,85,88,89,105,115

Rudolf Fišer, Historický vývoj města Třebíče, in: Rudolf Fišer, Třebíč – Historický atlas měst české republiky - svazek č.9, Praha 2001, nestránkováno

Jiří Joura, Národní dům a jeho bohatá historie, in: Jiří Joura, Procházky starou Třebíčí popáté, Třebíč 2012,s.72-74

Jiří Joura, Smrtelná ulice v Třebíči, in: Jiří Joura, Procházky starou Třebíčí popáté, Třebíč 2012, s.72-74

Jan Uher, Třebíčskému divadlu bylo pět let, Horácké noviny, 2011, 3.1., s.3

 

 

Author: Ludmila Hůrková

Translator: Jan Purkert

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