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City Theatre Kladno

Emil Hrabě, Jaroslav Rössler

alias Jaroslav Průcha Theatre Kladno- Mladá Boleslav (1967- 1989), Jaroslav Průcha Theatre (1964 - 1967), Stadttheater in Kladno (1939- 1945), City theatre Kladno (1918- 1939), Theater in Royal Mining City of Kladno (1912- 1918), Central Bohemian Teatre Kladno- Mladá Boleslav (1989- 1994), City theatre Kladno (1945- 1964), Central Bohemia theatre Kladno (1994- 2009)
history of the theatresupplementtechnical dataHistoric equipment

Important events

(detail)1897 | Foundation of the organization
Constitutive general meeting of Association for constructing the house of people´s theatre in Kladno. Next few years this organization tried to gather sufficient financial means.
(detail)1907 | Commencement of the negotiation about the concrete form of the project
Because the sufficient amount of finance was gathered , the representatives of the association addressed local builder Emil Hraběta to elaborate the design for construction of the building.
(detail)18.9.1910 | Commencement of the construction
Ceremonial laying of the foundation stone took place, the project was officially assigned to Jaroslav Rössler , however it is a subject of contemporary expert discussion, if the author of the building is Emil Hrabě, whose firm carried out the construction , alternatively the cooperation of both mentioned above.
(detail)12.5.1912 | Completion of the construction
The building was officially completed and ceremonial opening of the first theatrical season took place 11th and 12th May with play Znak by Jaroslav Hruška , specially written for this occasion.
(detail)1915 | extension of the building
The association asked builder Emil Hrabět in 1915 to make a design and afterwards carry out the extension of the building , which was indispensable for further smooth running of the theatre.
(detail)1922 | adaptations
In 1922 took place indispensable renovation of the stage and auditorium. Seven years afterward the theater gained ceremonial panted curtain.
(detail)1950 | adjustments
Adjustments of the interior.
(detail)1991 | reparations


(detail)Emil Hrabě |main architect

Builder and bussinessman in Kladno.

In : Vlček, Pavel a kol. : Encyklopedie architektů, stavitelů, zedníků a kameníků v Čechách, str. 250, Praha 2004.

(detail)Jaroslav Rössler |main architect

Czech architect and urbanist, a representative of architecture based on the work of Otto Wagner and Jan Kotěra.


(detail)Josef Wenig |painter

Painter, illustrator , stage designer and actor.

More theatres

(detail)Jaroslav Hruška |Commissioned by

Playwright and dramatist.



The middle of the 19th century consisted of a significant turning point for Kladno, earlier a small Central Bohemian town.

The first mining pit was dug in the year 1846 in close proximity to the town serving to initiate an influx of a new Czech population. Although the new citizens often came from the poorer social classes, this did not serve as an obstacle to the establishment of a rich cultural life. The first amateur association was founded in the year 1860 followed soon after, for example, by the well-known association Budislav. The town was also a popular locale for itinerant theatre troupes. Over the last third of the 19th century amateur theatre continued to flourish in Kladno, in particular in the 1870s when the associations Žďár, Ratolesť, Kollár, Palacký, Sladkovský , Omladina functioned here. At the turn of the 20th century additional groups came into being, for example, the Amateur Educational Group of the Kübeck Mine, The Singing-Drama Worker’s Association, Group of Crafts Workers, Drama Department of the Union of Mining- Metal Works and finally The Association of Theatre Amateurs of the Community of Tyl Sokol at whose initiative the founding general assembly of the Association for Constructing a Folk Theatre in Kladno gathered together in the inn U Grumetů on the 10th of October 1897. At the time of its establishment the Association had 55 members with its assets originally amounting to 146 gilders and 2 kreutzers. In their initial enthusiasm the members of the association invested their energies into the organising of national festivals and amateur performances with the aim of obtaining the greatest financial support possible for the construction of a new theatre building. The Association members also had great hopes for the cash donation boxes placed in cafes and restaurants, small gifts from members and other associations and finally folk celebrations. The town council was unfortunately not particularly supportive of the construction of the theatre building, only initially contributing to the association in the year 1900. In addition, the main financial capital in industrial Kladno was not in Czech hands at the time thus the supporters of the new theatre could not depend on support from this source. The assets of the Association grew extremely slowly. The result of this almost hopeless situation was the continually worsening cultural life in the town, this being apparent at first glance in the Association records where recordings of social events gradually lessened. The greatest disappointment occurred in the year 1902 when the leadership of the Association announced that they had only succeeded in obtaining 2,535 crowns over the course of its existence. The members of the Association gradually came to terms with the fact that they would have to satisfy themselves with a mere annex to the Sokol hall or the expansion of the hall in the pub u Jágrů instead of the construction of a separate ceremonial building. A decisive change in the existence and mood of the Association came about in the year 1907 when Jaroslav Hruška became head, he also being mayor of Kladno and at the same time head of the Kladno district. The patient members finally received their deserved reward in the person and activity of Hruška. Through his efforts in the year of his election, the town council contributed an unheard of amount for its time of 10,000 crowns. An additional contribution came about through district subsidies and subscriptions by the inhabitants of Kladno. The Association consequently rapidly found itself with an amount of 18,000 crowns on its account. The idea of constructing a new theatre building thus gradually received more concrete features. This led the leadership of the Association to the decision to address a local builder and co-member Emil Hrabě with a request to prepare plans and a budget for the building of a smaller theatre building for approximately 800 people. The builder prepared a design for the building under the influence of the still popular historicising tendencies. This was followed, however, by a more sober design in particular in terms of the décor with Art-Nouveau themes. The consequent budget for the construction became a further disappointment when the members of the Association realised that their financial capital would once again not cover the costs of the construction of the new theatre. A solution was soon found, however, with news regarding the prepared sales of Heine arena in Prague. Members of the Association had already considered purchasing an earlier arena at the beginning of the Association’s existence, this structure having eventually found a home in Holešovice as Theatre Uranie. The Heine arena, originally the so-called Švandov arena in Pštroska at Vinohrady, was originally built in 1869 according to plans by Josef Niklas. The arena was purchased in the year 1873 by F. J. Heine who it was consequently named after. It was later supplied with a roof and remodelled for technical reasons in the year 1881. At the beginning of the year 1906, the arena was according to period records in a considerably dilapidated state. Descendents of the original owner F.J. Heine decided to tear down the arena in the year 1909 with the intention of dividing up the land into construction plots. At the time the Association for Constructing a Folk Theatre in Kladno expressed an interest in the wooden structure. The original intention was to take apart the entire building and transfer it to Kladno where it would be reassembled and bricked in order to prepare it for year-round operations. The transport and reassembly work on the building was assigned to Emil Hrabě. Later, however, after more detailed investigation of the building, the Association members apparently reached the conclusion that it would be more viable to finally only make use of the internal furnishings of the arena and all the removable parts and at the same time construct a more modest but new theatre building. The plans for the new structure were entrusted to Jaroslav Rössler according to records from the Gala Document on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Association for the Folk Theatre in Kladno from the year 1922. His contribution to the final appearance has been the subject of specialised discussion, however, in recent times. Mojslava Sehnalová has argued that the author of the building was actually Emil Hrabě. The main argument supporting this hypothesis is the fact that Jaroslav Rössler only stamped the drawings which designed the décor of the façade, while the stamp of Emil Hrabě is only found on the project corresponding to the current appearance of the theatre and its layout. Jaroslav Rössler was a relatively young architect at the time, having been only slightly more than twenty years of age at the time of the construction of the theatre. Despite this fact he had already carried out his first realizations at the time directly in Kladno, these being the so-called Niederle House and somewhat later the pavilion for the Worker’s Exhibition. The authorship of the young architect is mainly supported by the fact that photographs of the theatre were later published in the magazine Styl in the year 1912 with Rössler clearly listed as the author of the design and Emil Hrabě mentioned as the builder. Stylistic analyses of the external appearance of the theatre where Rössler’s signature is apparent, not only in the external appearance of the decorative elements, but also, for example, in the shape of the roofs of the bays above the entrance façade would support his authorship. In addition, the layout of the theatre is quite loosely conceived for the time, with this clearly reflecting the original plan for making use of the Heine arena although it has been supplied with the simplified and more modern conception of the interior of the auditorium.  This would attest to the fact that the theatre is at present without a central foyer while the entrance vestibule has minimum dimensions, thus allowing the author of the structure to include a motif emphasising the layout of the auditorium into the façades of the building, this motif being simplified in terms of its function through the limiting of the layout of the arena. Cooperation amongst the two architects is another option, despite the fact that the basic design of the theatre and its décor would more likely be the work of Jaroslav Rössler.   

The director of the National Theatre at the time Gustav Schmoranz was consulted regarding an appropriate location for the construction of the theatre. He recommended without hesitation a locale in the park, instead of another offered site on today’s Starosty Pavla Square, as in his view the modest theatre building would not have appeared sufficiently imposing on the square.

     Construction permission for the theatre was granted on the 13th of July 1910, while the ceremonial placing of the foundation stone took place on the 18th of September 1910 with the construction work assigned to the company of Emil Hrabě.  The financial resources were used up rapidly and work on the theatre had to come to a halt for a period of time. This situation continued up until the point when the town donated the land where the theatre was to stand to the Association. This enabled them to take out a mortgage from the Town Savings Bank and the construction work was consequently able to continue uninterrupted. The building was officially completed on the 12th of April 1912 with the ceremonial opening of the first theatre season taking place on the 11th and 12th 1912 with the play Znak (The Sign) especially written for the occasion by Jaroslav Hruška. 

In the year 1915 the Association once again commissioned the builder Emil Hrabě for a design for an annex to the theatre, this being essential for further operations of the building. The builder designed a rectangular three-storey annex at the rear part of the structure which served on the first and second floors, originally as the rear stage and practice hall and on the ground floor as the scenery storage area. Renovation work was carried out on the stage and auditorium promptly in the year 1922. Seven years later the theatre obtained a ceremonial painted curtain from the Town Savings Bank. Central heating replaced the hot-air heating system in the year 1942; the seats were also replaced in the auditorium. The up-until-now most extensive remodelling work in the interior of the theatre came about in the year 1950. A chandelier was installed in the auditorium, the proscenium loges were removed, the standing room on the balcony was modified and the shape of the divisions was simplified. In addition, the ground plan was adapted to the present-day appearance, slightly standing out. Finally the seats in the balcony were arranged in rows. The stage acquired a rounded backcloth, a lighting gallery was built in front of the portal and the orchestra pit was removed. The storage areas and workshops found new homes outside of the theatre with new spaces emerging in their place for dressing rooms for the choir and ballet companies. The auditorium was painted according to a design by the artist Hnízdil. A project for the overall remodelling of the theatre was prepared by employees of the regional design institute in Prague in the year 1989 for which, however, the necessary finances have still not been found. Only highly necessary adaptations and modernization of the stage have been carried out in the year 1991 with replacement of the wooden structures and installation of a revolving stage. At the beginning of the 21st century the seats were replaced in the auditorium and a theatre club was built.  

The original name of the theatre building in this royal mining town of Kladno arose in the year 1910 from the design of the chairman of the Association for Constructing a Folk Theatre at the time Jaroslav Hruška. Posters from performances from the year 1941 attest to a change in the name of the theatre to the Stadttheater in Kladno – Town Theatre in Kladno and after the year 1946 once again to the Kladno Regional Theatre. At the beginning of the1950s the theatre returned to the name Town Theatre in Kladno only to change once again in the year 1964 to the Jaroslav Průcha Theatre. Three years later the Kladno Theatre merged with the theatre in Mladá Boleslav with the name from that time amounting to the Kladno- Mladá Boleslav Jaroslav Průcha Theatre. This was changed yet again in the year 1989 to the Central Bohemian Kladno – Mladá Boleslav Theatre up until 1994 when a definitive division of both stages took place. The Kladno Theatre has retained the name Central Bohemian.  

 The theatre is situated in Dvořák Park with its main façade facing to the south-west towards the adjoining J.Hory street (formerly Pražská). It has a rectangular floor plan with the projecting rear part of the later annex and is covered with a saddle roof. The main modelling motif of the five window scheme entrance façade is the segmented graded central part following in terms of its shape the conclusion of the auditorium and enclosed by two side bays with the main staircase of the building. Independent wagon marquees on the roof of the main building boldly cover the bays. The shape of the conclusion of the auditorium is also paralleled with the rounded corner of the main façade of the building. The lowest level of the central segmented part consists of the volume of the vestibule with three entrances. An additional level has an open terrace while the highest level has a triangular attic gable where the main ornamental décor of the façade is focused. This consists of a cylindrical pedestal and Art Nouveau female figures of the muses in profiled stucco frames with the coat-of-arms of the town of Kladno in between. The muse on the left is holding a lyre in her hand while the muse on the right has her arm placed upon a theatre mask. The mask motif also appears in the triangular mouldings culminating above the large vertical windows of the bays. Stucco profiled frames serving to emphasise practically all of the openings of the main façade are a marked modelling element of the front of the building. The side corners have stylized decorative motifs of floral vases on the level of the second floor while the level of the ground floor of the corners is articulated by three small vertical windows. Metal candelabras situated in the far axes of the central part of the façade are also part of the main front. The sixteen window scheme of the southern façade is only modelled with two bays while the eastern more spacious one emphasises the internal transition space between the stage and the auditorium with a crowing triangular gable. The staircase of the side entrance with brick graded railings is located between the bays while the motif already employed on the entrance façade, simple profiled stucco frames around the openings in the face, is repeated in the décor of the side.  The appearance of the rear façade of the theatre primarily consists of the at a later point several times annexed sections of the theatre. The additional side façade facing out to the south-east on the adjoining theatre street is somewhat more impressive. Here the fronts between the bays are expanded by loges covering the side entrance to the theatre, the marquee of which is supported by rectangular columns with decorative emphasised capitals. The main entrance to the theatre leads into an arched vestibule containing three-sided wooden box offices in the corners with their original décor. Two corridors lead from the vestibule into the adjoining lobbies mirroring the shape of the auditorium. The lobby on the first floor, servicing the balcony of the auditorium, can be reached via the staircase from the lobby on the ground floor. The auditorium has a rectangular shape with a segmented rear part. The interior of the auditorium culminates with a suspended ceiling with a stucco roof emphasising the shape of the layout of the stage. The balcony loges are slightly graded and project out from one another while the white parapet of the balcony is decorated with a simple gilded longitudinal belt. The curtain, obtained as a gift by the theatre from the Town Savings Bank in the year 1929, bears the motto “Labour, Thrift, Science and Art”, the author having been Josef Wenig. Apart from symbolic figures it depicts motifs of the town, the Kladno metallurgical works, the new building of the Savings Bank, the Marian sculptural group and knights from the Kladno Town Hall.

Sources and Literature :


 - Státní okresní archiv Kladno, fond Městské divadlo, fond stavebních plánů, stavební dokumentace k budově theatre v královském horním městě Kladně

- Archiv Středočeského theatre Kladno, stavební dokumentace k budově theatre v královském horním městě Kladně, Zápisník schůzí Družstva pro postavení lidového theatre v Kladně 1897-1920

- Středočeský Živnostník 17th of September 1910,p.3.

- Svoboda Kladno, 8th of May 1912,p.4

- Styl IV, 1912,pp.8-9

- Slavnostní list k 25. výročí založení Družstva lidového divadla v Kladně; Kladno 1922,pp.1-7

- Javorin Alfred: Divadlo a divadelní sály v českých krajích; Praha 1949, pp. 88-89

- Javorin, Alfred: Pražské arény; Praha 1958, pp.110-121

-Hilmera,Jiří: Česká divadelní architektura ; Praha 1999,p. 83

- Veverková, Irena: Procházka Kladnem – 50 kladenských budov; Kladno 1999,pp.28-29.

- Veverková, Irena: 100 let Spořitelny v kladně; Kladno 1999, p.8

- Sehnalová, Mojslava: Stálý soubor divadla v královském horním městě Kladně – Středočeské divadlo Kladno 1915-2000; Kladno 2000,pp.31-34,38,39,41,45,47,49-50,57,58

- Sehnalová, Mojslava: Návrat pamětní knihy,in: Slánský obzor IX,2001,pp.96-99

- Sehnalová, Mojslava: Příspěvek k historii stavby divadelní budovy v Kladně,in:Slánský obzor X,2002,pp.68-75

- Veverková, Irena: Zmizelé Kladno;Praha-Litomyšl 2008, pic.78



Tags: Austria-Hungary, Geometric Modernism, Belle Époque, Fin de siècle, detached building


Author: Ludmila Hůrková

Translator: David Livingstone

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