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Helena Modrzejewska Theatre

alias Centrum Sztuki-Teatr Dramatyczny (Art Centre-Drama Theatre, 1992-1999), Teatr Dramatyczny (Drama Theatre, 1977-1992), Legnicki Dom Kultury (Culture House Legnica, 1964-1977), Dramaticzieskij Tieatr w Liegnice (Drama Theatre in Legnica, 1945-1964), Stadttheater Legnitz (City Theatre Legnica, 1842-1945)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)25.12.1842 | opening
25th December 1842, prologue by Henriette Hanke; Friedrich Halm: Der Sohn der Wildnis (The Son of the Wilderness); Carl Maria von Weber: Jubel-Ouverture (Jubel-Overture); Domenico Donizetti: Belisario-Ouverture (Belisario-Overture); Ludwig van Beethoven: Fidelio-Ouverture (Fidelio-Overture)
(detail)1891 | renovation of stage and auditorium, iron curtain (1891-1893)

(detail)1902 | installation of electric lights

(detail)1938 | renovation: main entrance changed from side street to main elevation, new cloakrooms, foyer (1938-1939)

(detail)1938 | theatre was seized by Germans

(detail)1944 | theatre was closed

When the "total war" was announced, all theatres in Third Reich were closed and all arstists were forced to work physically for the war. 

(detail)27.11.1977 | extensive renovation: audience, ceiling reinforced, reopening of the theatre with the premiere "Lato w Nohant"
(detail)1999 | theatre has been named after Helena Modrzejewska

(detail)2008 | thorough renovation of the theatre, restoration work by Jerzy Skupień, Arnika Piasecka, Tadeusz Sokal (2005-2008)


(detail)Carl Ferdinand Langhans |architect
German architect, designer, the builder of many theatre and opera buildings in Silesia and Germany. More theatres

(detail)Józef Raabe |other
Décor of the interior.

(detail)Richard Rückert |theatre director

actor, singer, impresario, commisary of thetare in Legnica (1938-1943), many excellent artists were invited to  Legnica by him


The theatre traditions in Legnica stretch back as long as the 16th century and, like in Wrocław, Kraków, Toruń and Poznań, were connected with performances organised by schools, both Protestant and Catholic. The theatre was erected along the western frontage of the Old Town Market on a small, confined plot, demarcated by Konopna Street  in the north, the edifice of the town hall in the south and fishmongers’ stalls (on the site of the former ‘Merchants House’) in the east.[1]

Unquestionably the choice of the site did not result only from tradition. The decision to locate the theatre on a small plot, in the confined though well-exposed place: in the Wielki Rynek [Grand Square] in Legnica, in the neighbourhood of representative buildings, such as the town hall or Saint Peter and Saint Paul’s Church was an indication of a modern approach, not only to theatre matters, but first and foremost to the problems of the city in general. The question of location in the city space, extremely important as far as the theatre building is concerned, to a large extent crucial in the efficient functioning, to the social role and the prestige of the institution acting here was solved to the most advantage of the theatre, and it remains to this day.

The building of the theatre neighbouring the town hall to the south and the fishmongers’ stalls to the east was founded on the plan of a rectangle with the entrance in the shorter side of the rectangle on Konopnicka street and the façade onto the Rynek. The architectural structure of the edifice consists of three separate blocks added one to another into one whole: the main block, the flies and the block housing the workshop. The basic two-storey block (3 by 7 window axes) is compact and covered with an almost flat roof. The northern entrance elevation of this cubic block is adjoined by a one axis projection, housing the main entrance, crowned with a balcony, strongly projecting, bordered with a full balustrade. On the southern side, this cubic block is towered by the compact block of the flies, with reinforced corners, also founded on the plan of a rectangle of similar proportions (9 by 13 axes) and covered with a four-sided, equally flat roof. The identical block dominates the building on the northern side, as if it made up the second low side tower.

The socle is partitioned by rhythmically placed French windows set with semicircular arches, separated by archivolts whose structure imitates blocks of stone. The cornice running above them unites the whole block. The second storey (with sgraffito plasters) is marked by semicircular windows, also set with archivolts. The sgraffito plasters are decorated with the emblems of Legnica, the Duchy of Legnica and Silesia. The whole is crowned with a strongly developed cornice, comprising in the lower area small rectangular windows. The compact dynamised skyline seems to be monumental. This quality, which strikes at the first sight, is not accidental. On the contrary: it is the result of well-considered proportions of the whole building (the rectangle of the plan 1:2), the ratio of the height of the flies and workshop blocks to the height of the basic block (1:3). The austere and monumental character of the building is also determined by transformed elements of the 15th century palazzo: sgraffito plasters, strongly developed cornices and semicircular windows set with archivolts. Neither the invisible flattened roof, nor horizontal cornices that bind the edifice like a hoop level the verticality of the building and the dynamism achieved by juxtaposition of blocks.

The facade elaborated this way did not reveal the layout of the interior. Originally there was a restaurant on the ground floor of the two storey building, while the theatre with its basic elements: the three-storey audience and the stage occupied and still occupies the second storey of the building. The distinctly noticeable partition of the building into three identical parts (side parts being continued as the flies and the workshop) does not stem from the rectangular plan of the building, almost totally occupied by the horseshoe-shaped auditorium and the adjoining stage, founded on the plan of a rectangle. The basic rectangle that comprises the stage and the auditorium was extended to the south in the form of a narrow annex, adjoining the stage and housing the backstage, and to the north by a similar rectangular annex housing the foyer.

The form of the uni-spatial interior of the auditorium is determined by the location of boxes: the boxes on the ground floor and on the first floor, as well as the proscenium boxes (placed at an acute angle to the stage portal) are arranged in a semicircle. The proscenium boxes have different, though very modest architectural elaboration: wooden columns perform the role of bearing elements and equally they are the only element of articulation of the interior. The interior of the auditorium, designed this way, covered with a flat ceiling, is architecturally unique. Vertical elements are balanced by the horizontal arrangement of balconies, which retreat like off-sets thus dynamising the interior. Moreover, the balcony of the first floor is much higher than the ground floor and the balcony of the second floor, which, as evidenced by the location in the area of boxes of honour, was a reference to the old piano nobile.

Undoubtedly the edifice bears a certain resemblance to Palazzo Strozzi in Florence. The reference to the tradition of the patrician bankers’ palace in Renaissance Florence was unquestionably Langhans’ conscious choice. This way he referred to the historical genealogy of the place and to the cultural identity of the patriciate. However, it should be remembered that at the time when the Legnica theatre building was being constructed, the fact of patterning on palazzo quattrocentesco and transforming this pattern did not always result from directly referring to the architectural forms of the Italian Renaissance. As a matter of fact, the façades of these palaces were also close to the works of French revolutionary architects, whose patterns were particularly spread by Boullée’s pupil, Jean Nicolas Louis Durand.[2]

[1] Bożena Grzegorczyk, Teatr miejski jako przykład realizacji teoretycznych koncepcji architektonicznych Karola Ferdynanda Langhansa, [in:] Kultura artystyczna dawnej Legnicy, Opole 1991, p.84; Bożena Grzegorczyk Teatr Miejski w Legnicy – uwag kilka o koncepcji ideowej i artystycznej gmachu, [in:] Marmur dziejowy. Studia z historii sztuki, Poznań 2002, p. 363.

[2] Bożena Grzegorczyk, Ibidem, 1991, p. 92-93.



1. Grzegorczyk B., Teatr miejski jako przykład realizacji teoretycznych koncepcji architektonicznych Karola Ferdynanda Langhansa, [w:] Kultura artystyczna dawnej Legnicy, Opole 1991.

2. Grzegorczyk B., Teatr Miejski w Legnicy – uwag kilka o koncepcji ideowej i artystycznej gmachu, [w:] Marmur dziejowy. Studia z historii sztuki, Poznań 2002.




Author: Bożena Grzegorczyk

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