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József Attila Theatre

history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)01.09.1967 | Reconstruction

(detail)1986 | Reconstruction, enlargement


Architectural description

The building of the theatre stands at a busy traffic junction. The auditorium, the stage and the technical unit, called changing room building, are connected to the six storey apartment house with a glass passage.

In the 90's the main entrance of the theatre was moved from the glass passage to the high building in Váci Way. On the main facade looking at the Váci Way the different function is marked with belt line of windows.

The three storey flat-roofed building facing the Károly Róbert Boulevard is articulated vertically with ten open axes. From here the mass of the theatre connects the apartment house perpendicularly. 

The surface of the auditorium, the former great hall and the mass of the stage is covered with raw  stones. On the facade along the stage; from the top of the parapet to the ceiling structure, a wall plane was formulated. This imitates the vertical openings, which are articulated to nine fields by nine stone frames.



The building was built in 1950, in a busy transportation hub in the Váci Road, using the designs of Zoltán Vidos and László Tarján, with a dual function: the upper storeys of the block would be used as private residences, the lower two would host the district’s party committee. The six-storey high block of flats has been designed and constructed with a professional care much higher than the average at the time; each flat has a balcony and a loggia, with central heating, and stone exterior covering. Behind the block, perpendicular to it a larger hall has also been furnished, used for different party meetings. In the cellar a restaurant and a kitchen was also operating, while the foyer of the cultural hall and its service areas were located on the ground level.

The hall originally had a flat-floored auditorium and a small stage, yet during a subsequent reconstruction a tilted floor was built. Its rear stage is also a later development.

In 1952 the building became a propriety of the district’s council and they decided to used the large hall for theatre performances aimed at the worker audiences of the district. On December 10, 1953 the theatre hall took up the name of Déryné Stage (Déryné Színpad). In October 1954 the Theatre of the Hungarian People’s Army (Magyar Néphadsereg Színháza) founded a studio theatre under the name of Dériné Színház and also took over the venue in Váci Way. Within the Theatre of The Folk Army a wave of reforms started soon and by March 1955 a new theatre was born under the name of Attila József Theatre (an important Modern Hungarian poet).

The company was performing in different culture houses, without a permanent venue of its own. The manager of the company was József Szendrő and its main director Gábor Berényi. The Theatre of the Hungarian People’s Army soon merged the József Attila Theatre with the Déryné Theatre and its resident venue became the building in Váci Road. From September 1955 they started to play in the building, keeping their regular tours in different culture houses of the country.

On August 1, 1956 the József Attila Theatre became independent, with Fodor Imre as the appointed manager. On 1st September 1956 the theatre was opened, without any special ceremony, with a success-play by the Schönthan brothers: Raub der Sabinerinnen.

The theatre’s repertory comprised, beyond the compulsory ideological plays, mostly musical performances, to the performance of which the venue proved inappropriate. There was no orchestral pit, stage-loft, decent dressing rooms. From 1958 onwards, scheduled during the summer break important refurbishments were carried out both on the stage and on the audience. A technical service unit, called dressing building, was built in 1967. The main gate was modernized in 1998. During the 1996 reconstruction a studio theatre could also be furnished. The main entrance was replaced to face the Váci Road. The main aim was to supplement the building, which was not designed for theatrical use, with several features indispensable for a theatre venue. One of the plans was to change the position of the stage in a new wing build close to the Váci Road, but this failed due to the metro construction and the widening of the carriageway.

In 2005 the results of the architectural contest for a new theatre building were announced.  



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