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Vrchlický Theatre

Vít Nepor

alias Fučík’s Theatre
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1946 | design

The city assigned Víta Nepor, a technical revident of Municipal National Committee, to work out the project of reconstruction of Záložna into a modern theatre; he worked out the firsts designs in June 1946.

(detail)29.10.1950 | opening

The new Fučík’s Theatre welcomed its spectators for the first time at 29th October of 1950 and performed 20 performances up to 12th November.

(detail)1989 | closing

No larger renovation probably took place here. Therefore the state of the theatre was deteriorating in the course of the years and wiring and heating were in so critical condition in 1989 that it was necessary to suspend the activity of Fučík’s Theatre and the building was closed.

(detail)00. 's 21. century | project
The reconstruction design was worked out by stage designer and architect Miroslav Melena. The expensive project was not acceptable for the city. The final version of the project was designed by Vlastimil Štěpán from atelier Building Construction Pragoprojekt, with which cooperated the main engineer Josef Miňovský and M. Machač on the colour solution. They kept the Melena’s design in the basic features, simplified especially in the stage part.
(detail)00. 's 21. century | rekonstrukce

The reconstruction took place in 2002-2003 with total costs around sixty millions Crowns. The renovated theatre initiated its operation – after the thirteen years, when it was closed- on 16th November 2003 by performance Mixed feelings with Jana Hlaváčová, Petr  Kostka and  Jaroslav Satoranský. The programme is comprised mainly of visiting performances.


Vít Nepor |main architect
(detail)Miroslav Melena |architect

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)Josef Miňovský |architect

Contemporary Czech architect , employee of the company Pragoprojekt.

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(detail)Miloš Machač |architect

Contemporary Czech architect. Member of A.D.I. studio.

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(detail)Zdeněk Sýkora |painter

An important Czech painter, member of Křižovatka group, whose work is represented in many important collections of modern art.


(detail)Vladislav Mirvald |stage designer

Czech graphic artist, pedagogue and photographer. He was one of key figures of Czech constructive art and of so called Křižovatka group.



The idea of a new theatre building appeared at last in Louny at the end of the 19th century; it acquired a specific shape in 1900 with foundation of the Association for Construction of a Theatre. The first visible outcome of its work was  modernization of a stage in the hall of the hotel Záložna on the south border of the city centre in 1932. From several theatrical associations, probably the theatrical association Josef Kajetán Tyl, founded already before the First World War, which introduced often hosting Prague artists in its productions, was the most active one. During the Second World War, it  played most often in the hall of the inn Na zastávce,  theatre in Záložna was closed and the majority of its equipment was destroyed.

Construction of a new theatre began to acquire a more specific outline not until the end of the Second World War. The city charged Vít Nepor, a technical clerk of the Municipal National Committee, with elaboration of a reconstruction project of Záložna into a modern theatre; he worked out the first designs in June 1946. The forthcoming construction should have been supervised by newly founded Society of Vrchlický’s Theatre (Jaroslav Vrchlický was born in Louny in 1853) and its committee, established on the beginnings of the work in December 1947. Finance was gathered on the account named Louny to itself.

On a first meeting of the Society in the hall of Na zastávce, its chairman JUDr. Zima proposed to announce a public collection with the aim to collect two million Crowns for the theatre construction.  Honorary guest Emil F. Burian donated immediately 10 000 Crowns and his companion promised to collect another 10 000 for his ensemble and to perform one play in the new building.

The outcome of the public collection reached 1 600 000 Crowns in March 1950 when the construction of the theatre was near the end and over 20 000 hours of voluntary work was worked on it. Designer Vít Nepor, about whose other architectural activity is nothing known, did not have an easy task. It was necessary to modify his design several times and the final appearance differs considerably from the original intent.   

Nepor  solved very extraordinarily the access to the visitors’ area in his first variant:  visitors should have descended through a wide staircase from the area in front of the building to the entrance imbedded in the basement, where cloakrooms and other background were located as well and only from here to ascend again to a hall in the ground floor.

That should have been larger than the present one. Nepor designed  enlargement of the original hall of Záložna by width of the present day vestibule and the stage should have been a little bit deeper. The intent was spoiled by the complicated after war situation, in which the theatre designs had to comply to more practical needs. Shortly before the  commencement of the construction, Louny plant Stepo acquired  the rooms on the west and east side of the first floor of the hotel for  provisional offices and it was necessary to completely rework the design because of this unexpected event. A generous design of   reconstruction had to make way to a more modest variant from October 1947 that only intended building of a new balcony and modernization of the stage in the existing hall. The construction commenced according to this design. It became apparent during the course of the construction that the location of plant Stepo offices in Záložna is not convenient due to hygienic nor practical reasons and the workers left the building again. This opened the way for other changes in the project; it was not possible anymore to enlarge the hall  because the construction works proceeded too far meanwhile. Only rooms in the west part of the building were available for insertion of the present vestibule and minor hall in the first floor; this enabled to solve similarly the front facade as in the original version.

The theatre hall occupies roughly a quarter of the layout in the end and it corresponds by its size to the original hall of Záložna. The balcony along the rear wall of the auditorium protruded into the sides of the hall being ended by short arms in a quarter of a circle, in which the pre-war scheme of gradually descending boxes survives in reduction (here only with two short frontally oriented rows of seats).

Shortly before the theatre opening, the Municipal National Committee decided to rename it to Fučík’s Theatre, although the Society, being renamed at the same time in a directive manner to the Society of Julius Fučík Theatre, and the Circle of Friends of Jaroslav Vrchlický protested against this decision. The new Fučík’s Theatre accepted its spectators for the first time at 29th October 1950 and played 20 performances up to 12th November.  The theatre was run by Society of J. Fučík’s Theatre up to 1959, afterwards shortly by Enterprise club of Railwaymen , after it by the Popular Education Organization by Municipal National Committee and even later by Social and Cultural Centre of Louny that had its seat directly in the theatre. When a new building of The House of Culture in Husova Street was opened in 1979, the theatre was handed over to its management. J.K. Tyl troupe played in the theatre up to the 1980s having here an excellent background; amateur actors performances were a part of season ticket package for a long time, otherwise visiting Prague troupes were offered.

Vladislav Mirvald (1921–2003), an important graphic artist and photographer and long term teacher on the Louny high school, was a stage designer of the Society. Mirvald cooperated on the art solution of the fire curtain that was created by Louny native and one of the most important Czech painters of the 20th century Zdeněk Sýkora (born 1920) for the theatre. The curtain, covered by a grid from black and white geometric shapes, could possibly be one of the most interesting parts of the theatre, if it would not have been destroyed by incomprehensible negligence – it ended probably cut to pieces in a scrapyard – during closure of the theatre.  

We know nothing about any building reconstruction apart the iron curtain from the 1950s to 1990s- it was not possible to see an extensive file in the archive of Louny Building Office. No larger adaptation probably took place here. Therefore the state of the theatre was deteriorating in the course of the years and wiring and heating were in so critical condition in 1989 that it was necessary to suspend the activity of Fučík’s Theatre and the building was closed up.

After long discussion had been carried, whether to repair the theatre at all and for what costs ( theatre was a variant as well to tear down the theatre and to establish a parking lot here), the city decided to reconstruct the building and reopen it, this time under the originally intended name.

The reconstruction design was worked out by stage designer and architect Miroslav Melena (1937 – 2008), the author of many new theatre buildings and reconstructions (among other   Archa Theatre in Prague, 1992–1994, with  Ivan Plicka,  na Fidlovačce Theatre inPrague, 1995, or Brno Reduta, 2005, with atelier DRNH). The expensive project was, however,  not acceptable for the city; reconstruction designed by Melena required the costs of over 100 million Crowns.

It is not clear under which circumstances Melena resigned on the design. The final version of the project was designed by Vlastimil Štěpán from atelier Building Construction Pragoprojekt, with which cooperated the main engineer Josef Miňovský and M. Machač on the colour solution. They kept the Melena’s design in the basic features, simplified especially in the stage part.

The main change in comparison with the original state in the new arrangement is a new appearance of the stage, in which a steep elevation came into existence; the upper rows are accessible from the foyer in the first floor in the level of cancelled balcony (it is only a coincidence that thereby the original  Nepor’s idea of  “grade-separated” access to the hall was applied here just in other form? ). The original flat ceiling of the auditorium was replaced by transverse segments covering new light bridges. The capacity of the hall was decreased from original 460 to 271 seats, from which two were for disabled; one row of seats was added in contrast to the Melena’s design by insertion of a lighting booth into the space of the upper foyer.

A honorary place was given to the bust of Jaroslav Vrchlický, when the intended entire figure was abandoned due to financial reasons. A glassed gallery disappeared from the side elevation of the building, the inner and outer expression of the building was revived by lesenes, changed pattern of windows and pastel colours. Reconstruction took place in 2002-2003 with total costs around sixty millions Crowns. The renovated theatre initiated its operation – after thirteen years, when it was closed- on 16th November 2003 by performance Mixed Feelings with Jana Hlaváčová, Petr  Kostka and  Jaroslav Satoranský. The programme is comprised mainly of visiting performances.

Gallery GAML (Gallery of the City of Louny) was opened in newly reconstructed basement room in December 2010; the introductory exhibition of Louny artists Kamil  Linhart, V. Mirvald and Z. Sýkora should commemorate among other their first joint exhibition, opened in at that time in Fučík’s Theatre precisely sixty years ago, on 10th December 1950.


Present state

The theatre stands on the south border of the historical core of the city. An oblong building turns with its side elevation to the Osvoboditelů Street to the south and to Na Valích Street to the north, the entrance faces north to the paved area in Jakoubkova Street, elevated from the Osvoboditelů Street, bordered by a low banister and accessible through  a  low staircase. A line of low houses is adjoined to the rear elevation in the Na Valích Street.

The protruding entrance bay is flanked to the simple volume of the main building, from which higher sectors jut out in the front and rear (fly loft). Simplicity of almost undecorated rectangular flats and volumes, mostly articulated only by colours, is the main expressional mean of the structure.

The almost square entrance elevation is topped by a projecting flat roof. A three bay entrance is located between unarticulated strips of plaster on the sides being divided by flat pilasters and above it equally divided by a triple of high windows of multifunctional hall, from where a  shallow balcony is entered. There is an inscription Vrchlický Theatre in a low strip between windows and roof. Stone spheres are mounted on low square plinths on the sides of the entrance elevation. The side parts of entrance bays are articulated only by a couple of windows in the ground floor, otherwise they are flat without articulation or decoration. An entrance into the gallery in the basement is located between the right side of the bay and the main sector.

Walls of the main block are arranged similarly. Oblong windows of both the storeys are joint by shallow recessed vertical frames in the main flat of the two storey south elevation and on the shorter walls on the sides of the entrance bay. The same frames are on the north side as well, where windows are absent. There are recessed fields, distinguished from the red flats of the facade by bright colour, on both the sides. Bright colour is on the extension of other storey along the front and rear elevation; fly tower forms a part of this extension in the north-east part of the building. The extensions are connected by the middle wing that is veiled to the view from the street. The flats between extensions of the lateral sides of the theatre function as terraces.

The rear facade of the theatre, partially screened by adjacent house frontage, is articulated only by small windows and gate for scenery moving. A staff entrance into the theatre is located in the middle of the south elevation facing the Osvoboditelů Street.

The inner space of the theatre is formed similarly as the facades by simple rectangular shapes and unarticulated flats, complemented only by modest furnishing. A crosswise laid foyer with cloakrooms is behind the vestibule with a cash desk. In a niche on the right, there is a bust of Jaroslav Vrchlický on a simple plinth on the background of a panel with a transliteration of his letter, by which this Louny native thanked for being given the honorary citizenship of the city in 1893. A corridor to the ground floor access to the auditorium runs on  the right side of the cloakrooms into depth of the wing. Between it and the niche with a bust, there is an access area to one flight staircase to the first floor,  highlighted by a wall opening along the staircase and a column, distinguished in colour.

In the first floor foyer, located above the cloakrooms,  there is a bar for spectators’ refreshment by productions or by actions in the grand multifunctional hall above the entrance to the theatre. A narrow balcony in the main elevation is accessed from it through high windows. Insertion of a lowered ceiling during the reconstruction was not of benefit to generous proportions of the hall nor its acoustics. Two entrances lead from the upper foyer with a bar into the rear part of the auditorium for 271 spectators. Steeply ascending rows of seats are moderately bent, equally as the rear wall of the auditorium with small windows from lighting and sound cabin. A narrow, twice gradually descending balcony juts out of the right side of the hall. Melena designed a similar one on the opposite wall of the hall, which has remained unarticulated and empty.  Transversely divided soffit under the ceiling is covered by lighting, accessible from steel footbridges above singular lamellas.

The arc of the proscenium covering orchestra pit in the basement is protruded far in front of the proscenium arch. The walls of the auditorium and the solid of the balcony is panelled by timber; seats, rear wall and proscenium arch are green, ceiling soffit and tiered parts of the walls in front of the proscenium arch are refractile white.

The stage with an acting area of circa 7 × 7 m is equipped by an unused turntable.


The theatre hall occupies roughly a quarter of the theatre plan. Dressing rooms and administrative rooms are distributed in the south half of the rear part of the building and a part of the space is used by music school.

A newly opened gallery is located in basement room under the front part of the theatre. An unused orchestra pit with a part of original equipment and an area under the as well unused turntable  is accessible from the basement.

Sources and literature:

– Státní okresní archiv Louny, fond Fučíkovo divadlo Louny

– Městský úřad Louny, archiv stavebního úřadu

– anonym, Lounské divadlo mohlo vypadat jinak, Lounský a žatecký Press VII, 2002, č. 15 (11. 4.), s. 6

– Květa Tošnerová, Lounské divadlo se otevře už za měsíc, http://www.e-region.cz, 15. 10. 2003 (vyhledáno 1. 12. 2010)

– Ladislav Bába – Vladimír Drápal, Historie divadla, www.divadlolouny.cz (vyhledáno 1. 12. 2010)


Tags: Communist Czechoslovakia, detached building


Author: Iva Karásková

Translator: Jan Purkert

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