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Zagłębie Theatre

alias Teatr Zimowy (The Zimowy Theatre [the Winter Theatre]), Teatr Polski (The Polski Theatre [the Polish Theatre] 1920), Teatr Miejski (The Miejski Theatre, 1945-1948), Teatry Śląsko-Dąbrowskie - Scena Sosnowiec (1948-1949)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)6.2.1897 | opening of the theatre
premiere: Zemsta (Revenge) by Aleksander Fredro
(detail)31.8.1948 | decision about closing the theatre

(detail)1955 | reopening the theatre

(detail)1940 | removal by the Germans murals depicting Polish playwrights

(detail)1978 | rebuilding and modernization

(detail)1992 | expansion of the building

People

(detail)Karol Steczkowski |architect
Designer of the project of the present building of the Zagłębie Theatre

(detail)Rudolf Sarbiewski |painter
Creator of painted decoration in the Zagłębie Theatre - cupids on ceiling and portraits of Polish playwrights on the walls.

(detail)Ludwik Mauve |other
entrepreneur, he has financed the construction of the theater

(detail)Józef Szymański |other
entrepreneur, he has financed the construction of the theater. He spent for the buidling 75.000 roubles.

(detail)Mortimer Renard |other
entrepreneur, investor of the Zagłebie Theatre building

History

The Zagłębie Theatre was established in 1897 as the sixth theatre on Polish land. It was erected according to a design by Karol Steczkowski, and was originally planned as a complex, consisting of the Winter Theatre, the Saxon Hotel and the Summer Theatre. Nevertheless, the historic edifice has been rebuilt many times and owes its present shape to the last modernisation carried out between 1976 and 1978, as well as to the extension in 1992.

The theatre, whose building was co-financed by Count Mortimer Renard, was at that time called the Winter Theatre and was ceremonially opened on 6 February 1897 with a showing of “Revenge” by Aleksander Fredro. The first managing director was Czesław Teofil Janowski, who brought his own company of actors to Sosnowiec.

The edifice of the theatre was impressive by the standards of that period: it could seat seven hundred spectators, was equipped with boxes and electric lights,  and was decorated with paintings by Rudolf Sarbiewski. The artist placed flying cupids on the ceiling and portraits of Polish playwrights, including  Słowacki and Fredro. The Germans removed them in 1940.

The Summer Theatre was inaugurated in a wooden building next to the brick Winter theatre on 15 July 1887. In the summer season, performances from the main stage were transferred here. It was burnt down and demolished during the First World War and was never rebuilt.

The first years of activity confirmed that the theatre was an extremely necessary addition to the city. The Sosnowiec stage was the only top class theatre in the region, and it cared about maintaining patriotic traditions. In the early days of the existence of the theatre, Sosnowiec was visited by excellent actors such as Józef Kotarbiński . Apart from a light, popular repertoire, Director Kotarbiński and his successors staged plays by Kraszewski, Fredro, Shakespeare and Zapolska. Thanks to Felicjan Felicjański, the repertoire also included operas and operettas. Credit must also go to him for introducing season tickets for regular spectators. 

The turn of the 20th century was a particularly hard period. Spectators rarely went to the theatre, which led to growing financial troubles of the theatre and to ever worsening problems with the repertoire. The theatre tried to solve these problems; one of the solutions was by establishing a touring company. However, the impending war, political tensions and conflicts strongly affected the condition of the theatre.

The war was an ordeal for the theatre. Sets, costumes, money for wages were missing, though there was a company eager to work and perform. The first post-war premiere: “Waltz in a queue” - a medley of songs, sketches and monologues  took place on 18 February 1945. The audience longed for Polish theatre and did not mind that the sets were made of wooden crates and sacks, and the costumes were old military uniforms. The theatre quickly organised itself anew and, alongside light and pleasant plays, a more ambitious repertoire was billed increasingly frequently.

Since the curtain went up for the first time after the war, the theatre stirred the interest of the audience and enjoyed spontaneous social support. However, whether the theatre liked it or not, it was included by the patriotic current supporting the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), which opposed the Polish Workers’ Party (PPR), leading to cultural and social restrictions imposed on the region and the theatre itself. Finally, on 31 August 1948, the City Theatre in Sosnowiec was closed. Seven years later, due to strong social pressure, the theatre was reopened, initially under the name “the State Zagłębie Theatre”, later changed to “the Zagłębie Theatre”.

After being closed down and a several-year silence, the Zagłębie Theatre had a new lease of life. The initial period was tough though and it determined the fate of the theatre in the decades that followed. Managing Director Przystawski, being an outstanding  artist and a creative theatre director, tried to regain the position of the theatre. He created an atmosphere typical of the Eastern Borderlands, of Lviv, which intensified thanks to frequent visits by Bronisław Dąbrowski. This dominant Lviv style was also distinguished by excellent, truly genuine and top class theatre performances.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the theatre underwent further changes. Jan Klemens, the next managing director of the theatre, decided that the only stage in the city should be based on good literature, both for adults and for young spectators. Changes in the repertoire improved not only the opinion of the theatre and the company in the eyes of both audience and spectators, but also the financial condition of the theatre.

Thus in the 1980s, in consecutive seasons the theatre consistently presented works of literature. Among other masterpieces it performed The Threepenny Opera by Bertold Brecht, Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, Tartuffe by Molière, Revenge by Aleksander Fredro, The Curse by Stanisław Wyspiański and The Story of Sin by Stefan Żeromski.

The Zagłębie Theatre continues to try to offer the spectators a varied repertoire and first class acting. In 2009, the theatre received the Zagłębie Humanistas Award for over one hundred years of artistic activity, as well as the promotion of the region through art.

Text by the Zagłębie Theatre

 

Literature:

  1. 100 lat Teatru Zagłębia w Sosnowcu 1897-1997, red. Andrzej Osajda, Teatr Zagłębia, Sosnowiec 1997.
  2. 70 lat Państwowego Teatru Zagłębia w Sosnowcu 1897-1967, red. Stanisław Wilczek, Komitet Obchodu Jubileuszu 70-lecia Państwowego Teatru Zagłębia w Sosnowcu, Sosnowiec 1967.
  3. Państwowy Teatr Zagłębia w Sosnowcu 1897-1978, program, red. Jan Pierzchała, Państwowy Teatr Zagłębia, Sosnowiec 1978.
  4. Państwowy Teatr Zagłębia w Sosnowcu, program jubileuszowy, red. Jan Pierzchała, Państwowy Teatr Zagłębia, Sosnowiec 1972.
  5. Przemsza-Zieliński J., Sosnowiecka encyklopedia historyczna, Muzeum w Sosnowcu, Sosnowiec 2000.
  6. Teatr w Zagłębiu Dąbrowskim. Jubileusz 85-lecia PTZ w Sosnowcu 1897-1982, red. Jan Pierzchała, Sosnowiec 1982.
  7. Żywot W. J., Dwadzieścia sezonów teatru sosnowieckiego 1919-1939, Śląski Instytut Wydawniczy, Katowice 1983.

 

 

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