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Slovene People's Theatre Celje

alias District People’s Theatre (1945 - 1947), People’s Theatre (1947 - 1950), Town Theatre (1950 - 1954)
Historia del teatrosuplementodatos técnicosEquipamiento histórico

eventos importantes

(Detalle)1530 | The oldest part of the theatre building was built
Between 1530 and 1550 the cylindrical tower, which is now a part of the theatre building was built as a part of the town's defense wall.
(Detalle)1822 | The theatrical society was founded
A bit later, around 1824, the society was given a building adjacent to the tower and later on also the tower itself, which then changed its name to Theatre Tower.
(Detalle)1824 | The first town theatre began staging performances

(Detalle)16. 9. 1849 | The date of the first performance in Slovene language

The first performance in Slovene language was Županova Micka by Anton Tomaž Linhart.

(Detalle)1883 | A thorough renovation
Between 1883 and 1885 the theatre building was thoroughly renovated and enlarged. The plans were created by the architect Vladimir Walter.
(Detalle)1919 | Performances in Slovene were being staged again
After the WW I the building was transferred to the Slovene Dramatic Society and performances in slovene language were being staged again
(Detalle)1941 | Slovene theatre was abolished by German authorities
As part of their politics a major reconstruction of the building was also began, but due to the was it wasn't completed.
(Detalle)1950 | The professional town theatre was established
Just a few months later, on March 17th 1951, the new theatre staged it's first performance Operacija by Mira Puc Mihelič.
(Detalle)1951 | The beginning of a reconstruction
Plans were created by the architect Franc Korent. The conceptual proposal for the alteration of the exterior is said to have been created in 1952 by the architect Jože Plečnik. The technical features of the building were designed by Marjan Mazej and Ludvik Pavčič.
(Detalle)9. 5. 1953 | The festive opening
The opening performance was the play Celjski grofje (The Celje Counts) by Bratko Kreft.


Franc Korent |arquitecto
Hans Kamper |arquitecto
Vladimir Walter |arquitecto


The Celje People’s Theatre is thought to be the only theatre building in Slovenia itself, which still has partial medieval foundations and which is closely linked to the development of this town since the 15th century. The medieval settlement that appeared on the location of the Roman town Celeia, destroyed in the 6th century, was in 1451 granted town privileges by the Celje Count Friderik II. Soon after, in the third quarter of the 15th century, a town wall was built around what was approximately a square ground plan measuring 450 x 350 metres, the north-western part of which is included in today’s theatre building. It is thought that between 1530 and 1550 the north-western corner of the wall was strengthened with a large three-storey cylindrical tower, which was somewhat larger than the other three towers built at the same time on the eastern side of the wall. The corner tower built in early Renaissance style was covered with a steep conical shingled roof and had a stone peripheral wall on the outside equipped with two stone garland cornices with a semi-circular profile. For a number of centuries the tower housed the town jail and torture chambers. In the 18th century the wall and its towers lost its defensive function and in 1785 it was sold by auction to private owners, who later, particularly in the 1920s, partly demolished it and partly included it in new buildings. Prior to 1824, a narrow two-storey building was added to the tower on its eastern side and a wider building on the southern side. In the southern building the first town theatre began staging performances in 1824. The buildings leant on the inner side of the northern and western side of the abandoned late-medieval town wall with its loopholes. The two buildings are already marked in the land register created in 1825 during the reign of Franz I. The defence tower and the eastern building that leant on it are shown in the depiction by Friderik Byloff from 1824 kept by the Steyer Land Archive in Graz. In the southern building by the tower the first town theatre is thought to have begun operating around 1824. Organised theatrical activities in Celje began with the foundation of a theatrical society in 1822. In the second quarter of the 19th century the tower itself began to be used for theatrical purposes and the name of the tower was changed from Judgement or Torture Tower to Theatre Tower.


Initially, performances were only in German. After 1848, under the leadership of the Celje printer Janez Krstnik Jeretin (1803-1853) and later with the cooperation of the Celje priest and secondary school religious education teacher Josip Drobnič (1812-1861), a number of plays were staged in Slovene. On 16 September 1849 the first Slovene performance was staged under Jeretin’s leadership: the play Županova Micka by Anton Tomaž Linhart. In 1850 Josip Drobnič founded the Slovene drama school. Bach’s absolutism after 1853 nearly completely paralysed social and cultural life in Celje. The last performance in Slovene before the end of World War One took place in the Celje Town Theatre in 1866.


During the last quarter of the 19th century Celje experienced rapid growth and industrialisation, resulting primarily from the railway link with Vienna built in 1846. The former medieval town was surrounded on three sides with a ring of three- and four-storey buildings, which were supposed to give the settlement the appearance of a modern cosmopolitan town. In addition to numerous grander buildings, there were also built a town savings bank (1887), a post office (1897), a Slovene national centre (1896), a German national centre (Deutsches Haus) (1905-1907), barracks, schools and a hospital, as well as a water supply and sewage system, whilst streets were lit and paved and a town park created. The main initiator of these public buildings was the Celje municipality. As one of the first public constructions between 1883 and 1885, as a part of this urbanistic process, the thorough alteration and enlargement of the old theatre building took place, which even in the newly expanded town occupied a favourable location. The initiative for the alterations came from the Celje municipality with strong support from the town inhabitants, in particular Josef Rakusch, a local man of note. The plans for the new Town Theatre were created by the architect and building master Vladimir Walter, who was originally from Graz, but lived permanently in Celje and built many buildings there, particularly residential ones. During the building of the theatre, the two buildings added to the medieval wall were removed and a large building was built on their location on a roughly square ground plan, which included in its north-eastern corner the former defence tower. The tower was extended upwards, the façade was plastered and the two Renaissance cornices were removed. The architect Walter designed the new theatre building strictly in neo-Renaissance style, adding a few Classicist elements. The theatre was the first public building in the town that was during the period of Historicism designed in a neo-Renaissance style. Its former appearance is shown by old postcards and photographs from the period before World War Two. The main façade ran along the long eastern side of the building in Gledališka ulica. There, the building began on the left side with a tri-axial projecting entrance, which on the upper floor had three tall, semi-circular connected windows above the ground floor section with a main portal that was structured with rustication. Above them was a semi-storey that continued along the length of the main façade. The eastern section of the façade ended in a triangular gable. The corresponding part on the right side of the façade, with which it framed the set-back eight-axial central part of the façade, was up to the garland level exactly the same, but due to the height of the stage space, a tall floor with rectangular windows rose above the garland; it was decorated with wall paintings that were supposed to create the impression of a harmonically designed façade. A wide frieze consisting of painted geometrical ornaments reached onto the northern façade and the north-western tower. Due to the plastered walls and modernised details, only the magnificent cylindrical shape of the tower still indicated that it is the former defence tower in the medieval town wall. The design of the side façade on the north side, which included a part of the town wall, copied the division of the northern part of the eastern façade. The western façade was relatively modestly shaped, as it faced the garden and at that time had no special function. It is shown together with the plastered and extended defence tower on a depiction by an unknown artist from around 1885, which was in 1980, together with other images of Celje, published by Ivan Stopar. On the southern side the new theatre building leant on older buildings and therefore had no independent façade there. The building is on three sides horizontally structured by two garland cornices, one between the ground floor and the upper floor and one at the top of the wall. The façades were along the entire surface structured with shallow horizontal stretches of rustication. A particularly picturesque effect on the exterior was provided by the individual building volumes and the vertical pilasters on risalit-like projecting sections.


There is less data about the appearance of the interior. The basic design was the same as today’s. In the southern part of the building there were the main hall, the central staircase and a foyer. The central part of the building was taken up by the auditorium, where on the southern side the semi-circularly finished stalls were surrounded by boxes on two levels. The northern part of the building was taken up by a higher stage section, to which the auxiliary premises with the dressing rooms were connected in the old north-western tower. The interior of the theatre, like the exterior, probably had neo-Renaissance decorations. The architect Walter clearly obtained a great deal of experience when building the Celje theatre and was, after the fire destroyed the Stanovsko gledališče in Ljubljana in 1888, able to produce in a very short space of time two different proposals for the construction of a new Ljubljana theatre in the same location or in the Zvezda park which, however, were never realised.


The first performance in the new theatre in Slovene was not staged until after the First World War, in 1919, when the hitherto German Town Theatre building was transferred to the Slovene Dramatic Society. The period of staging Slovene performances lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War in Yugoslavia in 1941. Immediately after the occupation in April, the Germans closed the theatre down and began to think about a new role for it. At that time they also demolished the still incomplete Orthodox church, which had appeared only a few years earlier on the location of the former garden west of the theatre. At the same time they began to alter the nearby building of the Slovene national centre in a very utilitarian fashion. This was not only an act of vandalism, but also a desire to give the town a German image as soon as possible, in which Byzantine, Slovene and neo-Renaissance architectural elements had no right to exist. In 1941, as part of these endeavours, supposedly as a result of a request from Adolf Hitler himself, extensive alterations to the theatre building began to be planned. The Nazi propaganda announced that the neo-Renaissance building was in such bad condition that it was impossible to stage theatre performances in it. Theatre had a very important role in political propaganda, so the German propaganda minister and finance minister allowed the alterations to begin during the war. The plans were created by the Viennese architect Hans Kamper. The German Celje would thus gain a new central cultural location. The plan envisaged that the main entrance should be moved from the eastern façade in Gledališka ulica to the western façade. The theatre would thus become a part of the extensive square that had appeared in the area of the former medieval town defence moat and on the location of the demolished Orthodox church. In February 1942 the builder Alois Kalischnigg (Kališnik) began the building work. First, the interior was demolished, i.e. the auditorium and the boxes, and reinforced concrete constructions were built for the new stalls, balcony and gallery. The old tower was to become storage space for stage sets. The old dressing rooms were demolished and work commenced on building new ones. The renovated theatre was supposed to hold 400 people. During 1942 the work slowed down due to the war and in 1943 stopped altogether. Just over half of the planned work was completed, in particular the rough alteration of the interior, but without any furnishings.


After the Second World War, in November 1945, the new Yugoslav people’s authorities spoke in favour of completing the alteration work. In the autumn of 1946, with the help of voluntary contributions, the builder Karel Jezernik began to carry out building work on the basis of the plans created during the war by Hans Kamper. Soon after, an instruction was received from Ljubljana that the work should stop. The planned theatre was supposedly too small and a decision was taken that new plans should be produced. During this time the auditorium in the National Centre was initially used for theatrical performances and later the one in the People’s Savings Bank. After the Second World War the theatre was initially a cultural institution that was a part of the people’s education area and was called the District People’s Theatre, in 1947 the name changed to People’s Theatre, in 1950 to Town Theatre and in 1957 to Slovene People’s Theatre.


On 6 December 1950 the Town People’s Committee in Celje adopted a decision to found a professional town theatre. On 17 March 1951, the new theatre staged its first performance: Operacija by Mira Puc-Mihelič. The preparations for the founding of a professional theatre also influenced the decision on the completion of the alteration of the theatre building. In 1950, the chairman of the Town People’s Committee, Riko Jerman, with the approval by the People’s Republic of Slovenia in Ljubljana, asked a newly founded architectural bureau in Celje to create new plans for the renovation of the town theatre in accordance with the new programme and the needs of a professional theatre. The plans were created by the then leading Celje architect Franc Korent (1914-1997). Before World War Two, Korent had completed his education at the secondary building and technical school in Ljubljana, whilst during the war he continued at the Faculty of Architecture at the Technical University in Graz, the dean of which was the architect Friedrich Zotter. During his lengthy career in the second half of the 20th century, Korent was considered one of the leading architects in the wider Celje region. In 1951 he co-organised the founding of the Institute for Celje Business Progress, a part of which was the Celje architectural bureau. Later, until 1977, he was the Director of the construction company Gradbeno podjetje Dravograd. Among his most important works are the design of the venue in Ostrožno for President Tito’s visit to Celje in 1956, the blocks of flats in the Celje suburb of Otok and the petrol station in Murska Sobota (1958). Korent’s plans for the alteration of the Celje theatre, now kept by the Historical Archive in Celje, are dated 6 April 1951 and signed by “ing. arh. Korent”. Korent revised and supplemented the plans by Hans Kamper. The conceptual proposal for the alteration of the exterior is said to have been created in 1952 by the architect Jože Plečnik. The other planners of the theatre were: the senior technician Marjan Mazej (thermostatic, sanitary and ventilation systems, electrical installations and mechanical appliances), the higher industrial technician Ludvik Pavčič (the fly system, spotlights, the projector). The building work, financed by the self-imposed contribution by the Celje inhabitants, was carried out by the Beton construction company from Celje, which later became Ingrad, and the work on the actual building site was managed by Maks Kmecl. All the interior work was carried out by Celje craftsmen.


The alterations increased the number of seats from 300 to 420. In the stalls, 232 seats were installed and in two boxes at the back of the stalls 12, whilst on the balcony there were 82 seats, in the first floor boxes 36 and on the second floor gallery 58. In accordance with Kamper’s plans the old main entrance in Gledališka ulica was replaced by a new one in the opposite western façade that opened onto the renovated Šlander square. The theatre was extended towards the north and west, whereby the remnants of the old town wall were removed. The extensions on two sides of the old building enlarged and unified it. It acquired the appearance of a large mass on a rectangular ground plan with a hipped, tiled roof and a cylindrical tower in its north-western corner. The exterior was given a unified façade in the manner of Jože Plečnik’s late style. The windows were given wide frames with triangular or straight gables of artificial stone. The neo-Renaissance divisions on the façade were in the view of the functional architecture of the time seen as outmoded and therefore removed. Korent at that time also proposed that the monumental historical exterior of the former German national centre should be altered. All that was thus left from the historical division of the theatre was the triangular gable of the former entrance with relief ornamentation and consoles. The altered eastern façade, after the removal of the entrance portal, lost its former function and importance. On the western side, the new main entrance was in front of the staircase emphasised by a portico and a triangular gable at the top of the façade. The gable was decorated with a relief in the shape of two masks, symbolising tragedy, and a lyre, symbolising music. The relief emphasises the significance of the building. To the left of the new main entrance, administration premises were placed in a long, three-storey extension. In the extension on the northern side, behind the old main stage, there is now the back of the stage with a small side stage and storage for sets on its eastern side. Because of the construction of the northern extension the old risalit on the north-eastern corner of the building was removed.


On the second floor of the new northern extension there are dressing rooms, a tailor’s workshop and a hairdresser’s, whilst above the eastern side stage there is a rehearsal room. Above these premises, on the third floor, there are dressing rooms, with access from the former defence tower, which during the alterations experienced some major changes. Together with the removal of the remains of the former town wall, around 8 metres of the tower walls that were in contact with the town wall were also demolished. Plaster was removed from the Renaissance part of the tower and the bare stone, with the traces of the two removed cornices, is now exposed to view. In the tower, there are now a small side stage, a storage room for scenery, a rest room for the actors, a storage room for spotlights and a side staircase to the stage. The main stage has preserved its former size and rectangular ground floor plan 12.5 metres wide and 11 metres deep. The main staircase was moved from the western to the eastern side of the central entrance hall in the southern part of the building. Above the entrance hall with the cloakroom there is a long foyer, extending over two floors, surrounded at the floor level of the second floor by a balcony with rounded corners. The gallery is accessed from the northern part of the balcony. The slightly rounded ceiling of the foyer displays a network of decorative stucco work. The foyer is also used for art exhibitions. The auditorium preserves the basic ground plan design from the last quarter of the 19th century. It has a nearly square ground floor plan with truncated southern corners. The auditorium is of the same width as the stage and on three sides there runs a corridor from which there used to be access to the boxes. These were not rebuilt after the Second World War, but replaced with slightly segmented seating in the stalls, the balcony and the gallery. On 28 November 1952 the theatre interior was finished to the extent that a concert of a male chamber choir could be held there. The renovated building was festively opened on 9 May 1953 with the staging of the play Celjski grofje (The Celje Counts) by Bratko Kreft. For that occasion, a plaque was placed on the wall of the old tower, whilst the building renovation was dedicated to the five hundredth anniversary of Celje being granted town privileges.


the same time as the alterations of the theatre building, a new multi-purpose building was created to the south-west of it, thus framing the new square named after the national hero Slavko Šlander. Between 1954 and 1958 a monument to the revolution was erected in the square, created by the sculptor Jakob Savinšek. In 1978 a plan was created for the renovation of the premises in the attic of the northern part of the theatre.


Nowadays, this building owned by the Celje municipality employs 22 professional, trained actors, a permanent dramaturge, a language editor and a director, who also takes care of the theatre repertoire. They stage 6 premieres a year and around 200 performances at home and at guest appearances around Slovenia and abroad.



Sources and literature

Jože Curk, Umetnost v Celju in okolici v zadnjih 150 letih, Celjski zbornik, 1959, pp. 196–240

Jože Curk, Celje - urbanistično-gradbeni zgodovinski oris, Celjski zbornik, 1963, pp. 5–44

Janez Cvirn-Andreja Rihter, Biser na Savinji. Celje na starih razglednicah, Nazarje 1993, pp. 37, 65

Lojze Filipič (ur.), Gledališki list Mestnega gledališča v Celju. Prva predstava v novem celjskem domu gledališke umetnosti, Celje 1953

Fedor Gradišnik, Od amaterskega do poklicnega gledališča, Celje 1950

Fedor Gradišnik, Staro celjsko gledališče, Lepo mesto, 1. 12. 1967

Fedor Gradišnik, Cankarjeva dela v Celju od sezone 1945/56 do sezone 1967/68, Celjski zbornik, 1968, pp. 153–169

Fedor Gradišnik, Prezidava celjske gledališke hiše med okupacijo, Dokumenti slovenskega gledališkega muzeja, 15, Ljubljana 1970, pp. 23–41

Andreas Gubo, Geschichte der Stadt Cilli vom Ursprung bis auf die Gegenwart, Graz 1909

Bruno Hartman, Dobrih dvajset let kasneje, Zbornik SLG Celje ob 300. premieri (ur. Janez Žmavc), Celje 1986, pp. 33–37

Michel Knittl, Cilli. Ilustriert von L. Kasimir, Cilli 1890, p. 80

Franc Korent, Pismo iz belega Celja, Arhitekt, št. 5, 1952, p. 46.

Tina Kosi-Tatjana Doma (ur.), Zbornik ob 55-letnici Slovenskega ljudskega gledališča Celje, Celje 2006

Gerhard May, Cilli. Stadt, Landschaft, Geschichte, Cilli 1943

Viktor Molka, s. v. Gledališke stavbe in prizorišča, Enciklopedija Slovenije, 3, Ljubljana 1989, p. 246

Naša slovenska mesta: Celje ob Savinji (fotografiji Mestnega gledališča in ravnatelja gledališča V. Bratine), Ilustrirani Slovenec, št. 3, 15. 1. 1928, pp. 17–24.

Ignaz Orožen, Celska kronika, Celje 1854, p. 150

Janko Orožen, Celje z zaledjem, Celje 1948, pp. 72-73, 75

Janko Orožen, Posestna in gradbena zgodovina Celja, Celje 1957 (posebna številka 4 letnika biltena), pp. 28, 37

Janko Orožen, Zgodovina Celja in okolice, Celje 1971

Janko Orožen, Oris sodobne zgodovine Celja in okolice 1941-1979, Celje 1980 (Celjski zbornik 1980. Posebna izdaja), pp. 480 -481 (476-493)

Jerneja Pavlič, Das deutsche Theater in Maribor (Marburg an der Drau) und in Celje (Cilli) im ersten Weltkrieg. Diplomseminararbeit  (Nemško gledališče v Mariboru (Marburg an der Drau) in Celju (Cilli) med prvo svetovno vojno. Diplomska seminarska naloga na Oddelku za germanistiko Pedagoške fakultete Univerze v Mariboru), Maribor 2006

Eva Pezdiček, Prenova bencinske črpalke na Cankarjevi ulici v Murski Soboti. Prometni objekt kot element arhitekturne dediščine. Ohranjen eden poslednjih reliktov avtorskih zasnov črpalk na Slovenskem, ki so usahnile s pojavom tipizacije bencinskih servisov, Večer (Arhitekturna beseda), 14. 9. 2006

Slavko Pezdir, Slovensko ljudsko gledališče v Celju od leta 1973 do 1983. Pregled uprizoritev, predstav, gostovanj in števila obiskovalcev od septembra 1973 do junija 1982, Celjski zbornik, 1983, pp. 237–252

Ljubica Pisanec, Slovensko gledališče v Celju 1848–1990, diplomska naloga na Oddelku za razredni pouk Pedagoške fakultete Univerze v Mariboru, Maribor 2000

Ferdinand Porsche, Fürer durch Cilli und Umgebung, Cilli 1912

Stanko Potisk, Slovensko ljudsko gledališče v Celju od 1954 do 1973. Pregled uprizoritev, predstav, gostovanj in števila obiskovalcev od 24. aprila 1954 do 1973, Celjski zbornik, 1974, pp. 511–532

Peter Povh, Celjska arhitektura v 19. stoletju, Zbornik za umetnostno zgodovino, IX, 1972, pp. 79, 94-95, 113

Damjan Prelovšek, Stavba Deželnega gledališča v Ljubljani, Kronika, letnik 26, 1978, številka 3, p. 160

Jerneja Ristič, Slovensko gledališko ustvarjanje v Celju (1948-1951), diplomsko delo na Fakulteti za družboslovne vede Univerze v Ljubljani, Ljubljana 1999

Ivan Stopar, Stare celjske upodobitve, Celje 1980, pp. 34, 36, 37, 41, 47, 49, 52, 53, 55, 74-75, 172, 177, 183

Ivan Stopar, Mesto Celje in njegovi spomeniki. Kulturni in naravni spomeniki Slovenije. Zbirka vodnikov 178, Maribor 1991, pp. 22-25

Ivan Stopar, Iz preteklosti celjske gledališke hiše. Gledališki list SLG Celje. Sezona 1967/68, štev. 1.

Nace Šumi, Naselbinska kultura na Slovenskem, Ljubljana 1994, p. 76

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Vodnik po fondih in zbirkah Zgodovinskega arhiva v Celju, Celje 1997, pp. 57, 287

Janez Žmavc (ur.), Zbornik SLG Celje ob 300. premieri (1950-1986), Celje 1986

The plans and documents connected with the building and renovations of the theatre are kept by the Historical Archive in Celje, in the following collections: Mestna občina Celje (1850-1941), fascikli Gradnje, št. 44 b, Kultura – Slovensko ljudsko gledališče Celje (1945-1982), Osebni fond mag. Fedorja Gradišnika.



Autor: Igor Sapač

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