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City Theatre Brno

alias Mrštík Brothers Theatre Brno (1954-1992), Regional District Theatre in Brno (1950-1954), City and District Theatre in Brno (1949-1950), Free Theatre (1945-1949)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)70. 's 19. century | Building constructed presently functioning as theatre.
The building was constructed around the year 1870 according to the design by Heinrich Fanta.
(detail)1912 | reconstruction
Building was  converted into a cinema with film screenings taking place here up until 1953.
(detail)1953 | Reconstruction
Cinema was converted for theatre use according to the design by Bohdan Lacina.
(detail)1958 | Reconstruction
Reconstruction of the theatre auditorium and foyer was carried out according to the design by Miroslav Tomek.
(detail)1995 | Reconstruction
Overall reconstruction (theatre auditorium, foyer, administrative part) took place in 1993 - 1995. Extensive reconstruction of the building came about in the 1990s with the initial impulse having been repairs to the completely outdated heating system. The plans for the reconstruction were prepared by Miroslav Melena and affected not only the actual theatre hall, but also the foyers and the administrative parts.
(detail)2003 | Construction of the music theatre
The second stage of the Brno City Theatre, the so-called musical hall, was constructed in 2004 according to the design by the Brno architects Roman Mach and Josef Kubín. The project had been prepared as early as 2000 with the actual construction works beginning in November 2001.
(detail)1.10.2004 | First performance of musical hall
The ceremonial opening of the new building took place on the 1st of October 2004 with the musical Hair according to the film script by Miloš Forman.
(detail)2004 | A prize as the Structure of the Year of the South Moravian Region
New structure of the music theatre received a prize as the Structure of the Year of the South Moravian Region for the year 2004 and a honorable mention in the Competition for the Best Investment for the year 2004.

People

(detail)Miroslav Melena |architect, stage designer

A stage designer, an architect and a teacher died on August 8, 2008. He studied at the College of Pedagogy in Cyril Bouda’s and Karel Lidický’s studios and later at Theatre Faculty, Academy of Performing Arts in Prague under František Tröster. In 1967 he started working as a stage designer in Ostrava Theatre of Petr Bezruč, from 1969 he worked in Liberec Naive Theatre and later on he cooperated mainly with Prague Theatre Y. In the years 1980 to 1981 he was a head of stage design in Maribor. In 1972, at Serbian Novy Sad Triennale he was awarded a winning price for a setting designed for a play The Earl Monte Christo. Among the outstanding features of Melena’s stage designs belongs blending of scene and costumes in their almost provocative variability calling up reminiscence to surrealistic performances of the 20’s. However, next to scenography Melena gradually expressed himself more and more as a theatre designer – mostly as a head of multi-member team. Thus he gave a new resemblance to auditoriums and scenes of Brno Municipal Theatre, Prague Theatre Fidlovačka, Horácké Theatre in Jihlava, Municipal Theatre in Sokolov, Brno Reduta and lastly to Semafor Theatre. All of his stages distinguish themselves by ingenious stage design, and by dispositionally functional and smart to sight, sometimes also lively colourful appearance of the auditorium. The most salient among his projects was a solution of Prague Theatre Archa where a system of movable tables which fill the whole space enables a free open arrangement of the stage and the auditorium according to individual stage designer’s needs. As an exhibition designer Melena gave a very rich inventional shape to an exhibition of his teacher František Tröster’s life-work in 1991. Melena worked as a Head of Architecture Department at Faculty of Architecture and Arts, Technical University in Liberec. His creed of a theatre architect was expressed in an article he published in a cultural weekly magazine A2 (2007, issue 24). Here he confessed his love to Classical Theatre for its perfect solution of an audience and actor relationship, but also mutual relationship among spectators and their art experience. Melena did not agree with Baroque theatre’s introduction of stage portal which he called “absorber of theatricality”. However he did not hesitate to take over from the Baroque heritage a system of boxes or side slips. He believed their implication lead to a desired contact among the audience during the performance and to reach such goal a consistent arched tract of rows were to be used. Death caught Melena by surprise in the middle of his work on plans of a new Ostrava Theatre of Petr Bezruč, New Scene of Prague National Theatre and Brno Janacek Opera. (Jiří Hilmera)

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(detail)Miloš Tomek |architect, stage designer

Stage designer of high influence on the form of the contemporary Czech stage design appearance. Exceptionally he designed reconstruction of the buildings.

Source:

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(detail)Bohdan Lacina |architect, painter

In his (and co-members of the group "Ra" ) works, there can be found marks of synthetic imitation of the mannerist branch of Surrealism which is based on realistically conceived interpretation of surrealistic projections. Occasionally he designed concepts of architectural reconstruction.

Source:

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(detail)Josef Kubín |architect
Contemporary Czech architect. Member of design studio "1.Černospolní" at the moment.

(detail)Roman Mach |architect

Contemporary Czech architect. Member of design studio 1.Černospolní at the moment.


History

The Brno City Theatre was established in 1945 as the second theatre stage in Brno. The original name was the Free Theatre with its seat on Falkensteiner street, today’s Gorkého street, in Nový domov palace, no. 43-47. In 1947 the association moved to the adapted spaces of the former dance hall of   DOPZ palace, no. 3 (an abbreviation for Družstvo obchodních a průmyslových zaměstnanců- Association of Trade and Industry Employees) located on Lažanského (today’s Moravská) square. At present the building is used as a cinema. Several years later (1965) the troupe moved to the grounds of the Metropol cinema on Lidická street, no.16. These spaces are used by the theatre up to the present day.

The current theatre grounds consist of several buildings of both a varied mass as well as height, placed into a rectangular floor plan, with an open central space, and a spacious courtyard in between them. 

Brno City Theatre presently operates two stages, the theatrical with its seat in building no. 16 on Lidická street and the musical which had received an entirely new building in the vacant space between the central courtyard and třída Kapitána Jaroše street (the house no. has not as yet been granted).

The building housing the playhouse was constructed around the year 1870 according to plans by Heinrich Fanta when it consisted of the civic building of the Jewish Community. In 1912 the building was adapted into a cinema with film screenings taking place here up until 1953 when the structure came under the administration of the Mahen playhouse of the State Theatre. The architect B. Lacina prepared the consequent plans for the reconstruction and adaptations to the building in order for the entire structure to meet the needs of a theatre. The adaptations primarily affected the stage parts, an orchestra pit came into being, a turntable with hand drive, a fly loft tower, an added lighting horizontal and a lighting cabin. The auditorium, in contrast, was preserved in its original state. This was consequently changed 5 years later, along with the foyer, on the basis of a design by the head of the stage design Miloš Tomek. Tomek supplied the relatively small hall of a narrow floor plan with a balcony and loges. The auditorium was capable of holding an audience of up to 450 which was a particularly high number in light of the minimal elevation and inappropriate balcony. The unsuitable arrangement became consequently manifest in the visibility, the acoustic quality (actually lack of quality) and finally in terms of comfort (lack of comfort) for the viewers. The design of the space also had a negative impact for the employees of the theatre – the technicians could not see the stage from their cabins (on the right side of the hall).

After the transfer of the State Theatre Brno to the newly opened Janáček Theatre in the year 1965, the building began to be used by the unified group of the former Mrštík Brothers Theatre and Julius Fučík Theatre.

Extensive reconstruction of the building came about in the 1990s with the initial impulse having been repairs to the completely dated heating system. The plans for the reconstruction were prepared by Miroslav Melena and affected not only the actual theatre hall, but also the foyers and the administrative parts. The reconstruction took place in 1995.

The second stage of the Brno City Theatre, the so-called musical hall, was constructed in 2004 according to plans by the Brno architects Roman Mach and Josef Kubín. The project had been prepared as early as 2000, with the actual construction work beginning in November 2001. The carcass was completed at the end of 2003 and the ceremonial opening of the new building took place on the 1st of October 2004 with the musical Hair according to the film script by Miloš Forman.

The original name Free Theatre was used by the troupe up until the years 1945-1948. After its organizational unification with the Central Moravian Theatre in Moravská Třebová (the year 1949) it acquired a new name City and District Theatre, changed a year later to Regional District Theatre in Brno. It functioned from the 1954 under the name Mrštík Brothers Theatre . The final change occurred in 1992 with the theatre name changed to Brno City Theatre.

Present state:

The main façade of the theatre complex faces out on Lidická street and consists of a group of four buildings of different heights situated in a terrace row (with numbers 14, 16, 18 and from 2009 also no. 12). The edge two-storey building (no. 12) was punctured on the ground floor parts by a right-angled passage way leading to the open inner-block courtyard. The façade of the building has a ten window scheme. The window openings on the first floor culminate in triangular frontons while the central pair of windows have a wide double fronton. The building has a saddle roof. A narrow structured wing, employed as a service facility, adjoins the structure at a right angle from the rear, courtyard side.  

The adjoining three-storey building is articulated on the ground floor by a tunnel vaulted passage way linking Lidická street with the internal courtyard. The first floor is articulated by a seven window scheme and a central, slightly protruding, balcony. The second and third floors have eight window schemes. The windows are visually enhanced by simple chambranie and cornices both above and below the windows. The first floor has an additional parapet  panel with a retreating central field. The façade culminates with bracket cornices along with saddle roofing.  

The next door seven storey building (including the attic) with no. 16 is the actual seat of the playhouse of the Brno City Theatre. The ground floor part opens out onto Lidická street with three large grouped entrances transformed on the first floor into entire glazed surfaces. The central entrance is covered by a half-circular marquee held together by metal rods. The façade of the second floor is sculpturally designed with four shallow swellings, divided up by channelled pilasters. The number of arches also corresponds to the number of window openings. The four window scheme articulation is also applied in the remaining three storeys accompanied by high lesenes. Shallow protruding balconies, decorated on the parapets with circular targets in squares, are located under the windows of the third floor. The building has a saddle roof.

Building no. 16 was internally connected with the neighbouring structure adjoining half of its width (along the corridor). A huge organism with a rectangular floor plan consequently came into being wherein the rear side contains the lengthwise arm of the technical facilities. The southern façade of the playhouse, opening out on the internal courtyard, is equipped with two floors of wooden internal walkways providing movement access. The three-storey façade with irregularly inserted windows and a glazed vestibule on the ground floor follows the internal walkway section. The playhouse scene culminates in the prismatic fly loft tower with saddle roofing. 

The interiors of the playhouse are accessible through a group of three main entrances from Lidická street. The grouped vestibule of modest dimensions is opened up to the height of the first floor with a huge central pillar dominating the space. The somewhat cramped dimensions of the vestibule are optically enlarged by the mirror cladding inserted between the entrance doors and the quadrant tube (serving for ticket sales). The architect divided the adjoining spaces of the ground floor and floored part with a system of  suspended ceilings. Mutual accessibility is provided by a central staircase constructed from mat steel and supported by a low oval pillar which is built into a shallow pool with flowing water and stones.

Two side, ground floor entrances provide access to the actual theatre hall. The auditorium received the look of a steeply rising parterre practically attaining the height of the rooms. The hall has a unified character through the wooden cladding of the perimeter walls. 

The room is covered by a centrally situated spherical segment with centripetal designed arched strips situated in the spotlights. The central part of the segment is open with a metal walkway with lighting technology around the circumference of the open field. Additional light and sound sources have been placed along the sides of the proscenium into recesses in cylindrical tubes protected by black perforated sheet and supplemented by two light batteries hanging above the auditorium.

The complex of the Brno City Theatre was enhanced by the new structure of the musical stage in the year 2004. The authors Roman Mach and Josef Kubín created an articulated structure, varied both in terms of height and volume, arising from a complicated floor plan in terms of shape. The basis is a rectangular stage and backstage area with an adjoining sectored surface made up of the auditorium and the grouped public areas. The external cladding of the structure reflects to a significant extent the internal arrangement, this being particularly apparent in the element of the sector made manifest in the convex bend of the exterior façades.

The musical stage only parallels the remaining theatre buildings with its northern side with two corner necks sticking out and pressing against the rear parts of the playhouse stage. An irregular open space, serving as a parking and storage area, came into being between both structures.

Two entrances facing one another provide access to the musical stage for the audience. The entrance from třída Kapitána Jaroše street leads to the ground floor of the building (facing east) inserted vertically into the protruding projection.

Wide façades, partially covered by a hung, slightly projecting bay, follow this entrance part in a northern direction. The surface around the bay is covered by sheet ply and penetrated along the sides by vertical belts of small square and lengthwise placed rectangular windows, supplemented by oblong belt windows on the ground floor. The bay across from this is lit up in an alternating rhythm through inserted groups of three and two rectangular windows.

The façades facing one another, opening out over the internal courtyard, consist of four varied parts differing in terms of height, material and volume. A four storey smooth wing with vertically situated rectangular windows follows the playhouse at a right angle. An elevated sheet-covered cube adjoins this, articulated by windows on the upper floors and an entrance on the ground floor. A low rectangular arm with composite belt windows on the upper floor was inserted between this and the edge slanted entrance part. The façade of the entrance is made up of large glazed square surfaces and a group of four entrance doors.

The author conceived the bulging convex southern façade as a network of regular rectangular fields with a surface reminiscent of burnt brick with white joints or strips running between them. Large windows of various sizes and shapes, situated in an irregular rhythm, are placed into this strict structure.

The entrances facing one another are mutually connected by arched walkways serving as public areas (foyer, snack bar). The particular floors are connected with one another by round, red pillars with movement access provided by a pair of directly leading stairways on the edges.

The actual theatre hall was designed by the architects as a simple, minimally articulated, steeply ascending amphitheatre with a wide sectored floor plan (row lengths from 28 to 47 seats) with a wall of technical cabins behind the final row. The proscenium with an arched front protrudes toward the first row while the actual stage consists of four, cross-arranged square surfaces.

The service areas of the theatre, including the storage spaces, the dressing rooms as well as the hygiene facilities are situated in the higher floors of the building. The basement contains the heating engine room, the steam calorifier room and additional technical facilities.

Sources and literature: 

-  Plánová dokumentace, Archiv Městského divadla Brno.  

-  Srna, Zdeněk: Půlstoletí  Městského divadla v Brně: 1945-1995: svědectví diváka,   recenzenta, kritika i historika o životě jedné divadelní scény, Brno 1996. 

-  Kleinerová, Světlana: Novostavby a přestavby divadelních scén v České republice 1989 - 1999. Diplomová práce, Katedra teorie a dějin výtvarných umění, Univerzita Palackého Olomouc,   1998    – 2000, s. 54 – 58 (uloženo na Katedře dějin umění Univerzity Palackého Olomouc). 

-  http://www.mdb.cz/historie-mdb-36/  (vyhledáno 16.7.2008).                                 

-  http://www.earchitekt.cz/index.php?PId=960&KatId=9 (vyhledáno dne 16.1.2009).

 

Tags: Austria-Hungary, Belle Époque

 

Author: Kateřina Kohoutkova - Gabrhelíková

Translator: David Livingstone

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