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Symultaniczny Theatre (unrealized project)

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Important events

(detail)1929 | project


(detail)Szymon Syrkus |architect

He studied architecture in Vienna, Graz, Riga, Moscow, Warsaw, as well as sculpture and painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 1926 he founded a group of creative Praesens (along with Barbara and Stanislaw Brukalskim, Bohdan Lachert, Joseph and Helen Szanajca Niemirska), which in 1928 became the Polish section Congrés Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM). During World War II he was in the Auschwitz concentration camp. After the war he participated in the work on the reconstruction of Warsaw urban concept.

(detail)Helena Syrkus |architect

She studied architecture at the Warsaw Technical University and philosophy at Warsaw University. From 1955 he was professor of Warsaw University of Technology.

(detail)Andrzej Pronaszko |scenographer
Painter and theater designer. He graduated the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. In 1917 he joined the group "Polish Expressionists" (renamed in 1919 the Formalists). During the occupation, he lived in Warsaw, he worked as a carpenter, while active in the Underground Theatre Council. After the war he worked primarily in Krakow.


The design for Andrzej Pronaszko Symultaniczny Theatre was made in 1928-1929 in cooperation with an architect Szymon Syrkus. The idea of space with separated play areas, where one may organize many actions, was at that time in Poland rather innovative proposal. Symultaniczny Theatre, also named as Theatre of future or Theatre of show, however was not realized. Nevertheless, experiences of Andrzej Pronaszko and Szymon Syrkus, later also of Helena Syrkusowa in 20-ties and 30-ties of the 20th century considerably affected those days theatre and artistic-theatre thoughts, not only in Poland. In 1993, adapting the theatre to heating plant in the Żoliborz district, Syrkus tried to put into force the idea of Symultaniczny Theatre. The theatre was deprived of box stage, performances were played between spectators in a freely established room configuration. It was the first such realization in the world.

            The Symultaniczny Theatre assumption concernig both an architecture and the possibility to transform the stage was about answering the modern performance demands/postulates. Andrzej Pronaszko aspired to change the relation between audience and actors. He prepared a theatre draft, which was to integrate them to a maximum. He wished to enable the theatre a complete influence on a spectator and to get a full attention paid to the stage action by elimination of all disturbing marginal factors.

            The very sources of this idea were Andrzej Pronaszko performance experiences both from the cooperation with Leon Schiller and an architectural reform of Le Corbusier. The main goal was about establishing theatre building which enables fast change of decoration without rising the curtain and without an obligation to stop the performance by intervals, using the most recent achievements of theatre technique and direction and auditorium activation. With this idea, the light was to get the rank as of standard value and separate part of performance – it was the light which instead of a curtain was to separate the stage from auditorium or auditorium and stage combine and show the spectator place where they should be attracted to.

            The project of Symultaniczny Theatre assumed huge auditorium size (3000 seats), removing stage frame and a curtain, circular movable stage, modernity of architectural décor and maximum functionality of the building. Inspiration for this idea was drawn from a project of Walter Gropius Total Theatre, worked out in 1928 for Erwin Piscator. Pronaszko and Syrkus changed Gropius solutions, also using

prior idea of  “circular stage” of Oskar Strand. According to their project a stage was to be separated into two parts: fixed and movable. The fixed one – the main stage (so called thrust stage) and proscenium – were to have traditional shape, but the movable part – this is taken from the Gropius project of theatre in the round surrounding auditorium, however consisting of not one but two lines, which could turn around the auditorium at any speed and in any direction. Additionally there were supposed to be set trapdoors and revolving stage. Such stage equipment would give the producer a possibility to use multi-direction motion: circular (stage rings), rotary (revolving stage) and vertical (trapdoors). So as to avoid the noise, those rings were supposed to move in the pool with special liquid. 2/3 of the circle of both rings were supposed to be visible for an audience and ½ hidden under amphitheatre auditorium. Any decoration places and workshops were supposed to be set under the amphitheatre – the intention was to prepare there decoration and in a proper moment put into a stage rings. Stage was to be set in such way so as to, from every place, it was visible in the same way and special slopping ceiling surface designed in a way so as to echo sound waves, therefore making the actors’ voice stronger. What is courious, that in the Pronaszko and Syrkus project every category of audience and workers was to use separate entrances. Thus, an audience of a ground floor, representative boxes, amphitheatre, management, administration, actors – soloists, stunts, theatre workers were to go into a theatre using separate entrances, have separate changing rooms,stairways and even ticket offices.

            The Symultaniczny Theatre was intended first of all for realization of big performances arising on the basis of Polish romantic drama, and its conception was born from the idea of “huge theatre” inspired by Adam Mickiewicz “Lekcja XVI”.  However, it is the contrary of an arena theatre, of which Adam Mickiewicz dreamt about: in the place of a stage he sets auditorium and in the place of amphitheatre – stage. Auditorium is in the very centre of the room, and the stage surrounds auditorium according to the principle assuming the unity of a theatre space, entering the stage by the auditorium and flexibility of the stage.




  1. Frankowska  B., Architektura teatralna Pronaszki, „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 1964 No. 1–2, pp. 153–168.
  2. Król-Kaczorowska B., Teatry Warszawy, Warszawa 1986.
  3. Pronaszko A., „Zabieram cały gmach”. Wywiad Mieczysława Broncla z Andrzejem Pronaszką, „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 1964 No. 1–2, pp. 183–187.
  4. Pronaszko A., Odrodzenie teatru „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 1964 No. 1–2, pp. 188–200 [pierwodruk: „Sygnały” 1934 No. 8–9].
  5. Syrkus H., Syrkus Sz., O teatrze symultanicznym, „Pamiętnik Teatralny” 1964 No. 1–2, pp. 169–182 [pierwodruk: „Praesens” 1930 No. 2].



Author: Anna Turowiec

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