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Wojciech Bogusławski Theatre

Storia del teatroSupplementodati tecniciHistoric equipment

Eventi importanti

(dettaglio)15.10.1936 | inauguration of the stage with comedy "Mister Damazy" by Józef Bliziński

(dettaglio)1961 | beginning of the festival Kaliskie Spotkania Teatralne
(dettaglio)1920 | beginning of the theatre construction

There is inaccuracy of the date. Project of the theatre is from 1914, what can be prove of earlier works by Przybylski or it is just mistake of the date;  in 1918 was decision that theatre works should start.

(dettaglio)1950 | rebuilding after World War II

(dettaglio)2000 | renovation of elevations
authir of the project: Tadeusz Wiekiera
(dettaglio)2006 | installation of the building illumination

(dettaglio)2009 | renovation of foyer, cloakroom, staircases
project: Piotr Wdowczyk and Wojciech Stefaniak


(dettaglio)Juliusz Żórawski |architetto
Author of the project of the theatre interior.

(dettaglio)Czesław Przybylski |architetto

Architect, a representative of the eclecticism and modernism.

Altri teatri

(dettaglio)Konrad Swinarski |
Theatre, television, film and opera director, producer and designer.Altri teatri


Theatrical traditions in Kalisz date back to 1800 when Wojciech Bogusławski[1], founder of the Polish national theatre, had several performances brought from Warsaw to be presented in a ‘miserable shed’. [2] A year later, Bogusławski founded the first playhouse in Kalisz at his own expense, though the largely wooden building fell into disrepair after fifteen years. Nevertheless, even after the collapse of the theatre building, the popularity of theatre in Kalisz ensured that performances by the Warsaw company were continued in the Polish Hotel.

A genuine theatre building in Kalisz was built in 1835. There had been several attempts to build a new playhouse, but in spite of the sympathetic response of the local authorities, government disapproval made results impossible, so it was decided to set the theatre up in the summer theatre of Jakub Lubiejski.[3] The conversion works were started immediately because a ceremonial meeting of the monarchs Nicholas I and Frederick William III had been planned for September 1835. A parade and performances by the Warsaw ballet and the Berlin court theatre were to add splendour.

The result was an amenity that was not large in size, but at least met the requirements asked of it. The seven-axis front elevation of the two-storey building was fronted by a six-column portico crowned with a pediment. A modest two-storey auditorium with an amphitheatric seating arrangement, furnished with a dress circle and a royal box opposite the stage. This ‘temporary theatre’ in Kalisz was in operation until 1858 when it completely burnt down and Kalisz was left bereft of a theatre building for many years after.

In 1900, one hundred years after the foundation of the theatre in Kalisz by Wojciech Bogusławski, a new magnificent Neo-Renaissance building was erected. The playhouse had 486 seats imported from Vienna, and was resplendent with a crystal chandelier and magnificent decorations brought from Berlin. The theatre also had modern stage machinery and became a manifestation of Europeanness in Kalisz. In the summer of 1914, during War World I, Kalisz was totally destroyed. Only the burnt-out walls remained of the beautiful, newly built playhouse.

However, the citizens of the devastated Kalisz were tireless in their attempts to rebuild the theatre. In 1918 an expert evaluation was carried out, showing that the new building could be built on the old foundations.[4] In 1919, representatives of the Ministry of Public Works and the Ministry of Arts and Culture discussed the reconstruction of two buildings - the theatre and the town hall.[5] Czesław Przybylski, the designer of the Polski Theatre (The Polish Theatre) in Warsaw, was entrusted with rebuilding the theatre. The city authorities recognised him as the most appropriate person for this work; they believed that his design would satisfy all the artistic and architectural requirements. The foundation stone was laid in a ceremony on 17 March 1919.

The shell of the building was ready in 1922, but construction was faltering due to the poor financial situation. It was then decided to establish a special account in the Bank of Ziemia Kaliska into which the citizens of Kalisz could donate money to help the reconstruction. The Theatre Lovers Society was responsible for this campaign, aided by promises of support from the Ministry of Religion and Education, the Ministry of Social Care, and the Labour Fund, which agreed to give the town council a loan as long as unemployed people would be taken on at the construction site.[6]

Since Czesław Przybylski was unable to supervise the theatre’s reconstruction up to its completion, he recommended that Juliusz Żórawski, an engineer and architect, carry out the work. The Society signed an agreement with Żórawski for the full completion of both construction jobs, as well as the finishing works inside the theatre. In 1933 a notice of tender for the finishing works was issued. The tender was won by Józef Prochaska from Poznan. A year later the town council took over the finishing works. The reconstruction was finally completed in 1936, and the theatre, named after Wojciech Bogusławski, had its grand opening on 15 October of that year.

After 16 years of rebuilding, the citizens of Kalisz received a three-storey Classicistic building on a projection similar to a rectangle. The interior of the theatre showed some traces of the modern style that was particularly popular in Kalisz in the interwar period: minimalistic decor, ecru colour scheme with red seats and carpets, rounded staircases and a sloping horseshoe-shaped auditorium. The stage fittings were to be made by prof. Karol Frycz from Cracow on the instructions of the town’s mayor. Frycz had also worked on the stage fittings for the Narodowy Theatre and the Polski Theatre in Warsaw.

During the Second World War the building was occupied by the Germans who tried to rebuild it, resulting only in wholesale devastation. In 1945, at the request of the theatre company, the town council began a reconstruction lasting five years. In 1979 the building was listed as a historical monument.

[1] Wojciech Bogusławski (1757–1829) director, actor, opera singer, playwright, translator, mason and an exponent of fin de siecle ideology; in 1783–1785, 1790–1794 and 1799–1814 director of  Narodowy Theatre (National Theatre), founder of the very first theatre building in Kalisz. The author of the libretto to Cud mniemany, czyli Krakowiacy i Górale [The Miracle, or Cracovians and the Highlander]an opera known as the first national opera.

[2] Joanna Chojka (ed.), 200 lat Sceny nad Prosną [200 years of the Theatre on Prosna river], Kalisz 2000, p. 10.

[3] Stanisław Kaszyński, Dzieje sceny Kaliskie 1800–1914 [History of theatre in Kalisz 1800–1914], Łódź 1962, p. 74.

[4] Odbudowa Teatru Miejskiego [Reconstruction of the City Theatre], ‘Gazeta Kaliska’, No. 87, 1919.

[5] Teresa Zarębska, Sprawa odbudowy zabytkowego centrum Kalisza po zniszczeniach w 1914 roku [The issue of reconstruction of the historic centre in Kalisz after thedestruction in 1914], Rocznik Kaliski 10, 1977, pp. 121–158.

[6] Joanna Bruś-Kosińska, Budynki teatralne Kalisza [Theatre buildings in Kalisz], Kalisz 2007, p. 59.





After the war Roman Cichocki (actor, administration manager during Lenk's management) vas the pioneer of theatre life. Already in 1945 in the hall of the former Christian Craftsmen

Association, he presented medley shows to Kalisz audience. In April he staged the first regular performance, Grube ryby (Big Shots) by Bałucki. A month later he play­ed in Dziady part Iwo taking it outside under Dorotka Tower. Quire soon his half-amateur theatre became specialised in touring activity around Wielkopolska, Lower Silesia and Lubuska Land. At that time, the company, directed by Józef Tylko-Tylczyński resided in Kalisz, where they staged Moralność pani Dulskiej (Mrs. Oulska's Moralify) among others. In autumn 1946 the theatre officially started its activity as a municipal institution inttially subsidised by Kalisz Association of the Theatre Friends. It was not until 1948/49 season that the theatre was completely taken over by the local government. Sta­nisław Winiecki became an artistic ma­nager. During his management, farces and operettas were prevailing, constituting an extension of an interwar bourgeoisie theatre model. The first after-war Shakespeare appeared on Kalisz stage only in 1951 during the management of Stefania Gintel-Domańska when it seemed awkward to stage plays "a la maniere de Winiecki". In summer 1949 the theatre got nationalised.

The change of status was not sufficient to immediately improve the entity condition. An opportunity of raising the artistic level appeared in 1950/51 season when an outstanding actor, Włodzisław Ziembiński was in charge. He introduced to the repertoire successful performances, sometimes adorned with significant artistic achievements: Głupi Jakub (Silly James) by Rittner, Intryga i mi­łość (Cabal and Love) by Schiller or Rozbitkowie (The Shipwrecked) by Bliziński. Artistic management of Zdzisław Janiak, falling on 1952-1955, definitely brought one considerable event: a debut of a young director, Konrad Swinarski - at present, probably the greatest legend of Polish postwar theatre. In 1955 he staged Żeglarz (The Sailor) by Szaniawski with excellent roles of Michał Plu­ciński and Krzysztof Chamiec. Mieczysław Winkler, who took over the theatre in 1955, introduced an interesting repertoire by Shaw, Shakespeare, Mollier, Marivaux, Perzyński. At the same time Jan Ma­ciejowski had his debut on Kalisz stage with Spa­zmy modne (Fashionable Spasms) by Bogusław­ski. However, the greatest success turned out to be an adaptation - the second in the theatre history - of Romeo i Julia (Romeo and Juliet) by Sha­kespeare, directed by Jerzy Walden, with Wirgi­liusz Gryń playing Mercutio.

In the season of 1957/58 Tadeusz Kubalski took over management and artistic guidance in Woj­ciech Bogusławski Theatre and kept this post until his death in 1963. Being a manager, director and actor he introduced many interesting plays to the repertoire; among them Hedda Cabler and Rosmersholm by Ibsen, featuring Kaja Starzycka, Kupiec wenecki (The Merchant of Venice) by Sha­kespeare, where he played Shylock, Brat marno­trawny (The Importance of Being Earnest) by Wil­de, Maria Stuart (Mary Stuart) by Słowacki, Pierw­szy dzień wolności (The First Day of Freedom) by Kruczkowski, Pamiętnik Anny Frank (The Diary of Anne Frank) by Goddrich and Hackert, premiere of Zasada (The Principle) by Abramow, Anioł i czart (Angel and Devil) by Crommelynck and even, which was an act of bravery, Oskarżeni (The Accused) by Osiecka and Jarecki. On terms of artistic values, the beginning of 1960’s was the most interesting when Tadeusz Byrski worked in Kalisz preparing Hamlet and a premiere of N (Napoleon) by Bronnen. This does not mean that Kubalski did not let into the stage, though out of necessity, entertaining plays and musical spectacles. This unique artistic personality was one of the most fascinating in the post-war history of the stage-on-Prosna. Kalisz citizens will also remember him as an originator of Kalisz Theatre Meetongs initiated in 1961.

At the beginning of 1964 the post abandoned by Kubalski was taken over by Alina Obidniak, a young director, previously connected with a theatre in Gniezno. By acquiring DanutaŻmij, a critic and editor of “Dialog” for co-operation, she proposed a radical change of the repertoire profile, identified now by mostly contemporary dramas of new adaptations of novels. This offer was supplemented by an experminental stage of proposals, where Bogusław Litwiniec from Wrocław Kalambur, regularly co-operating with Kalisz, staged Escurial by Ghelderode among others. Probably the most spectacular success in discovering contemporary literature by means of the theatre, was the staging of Sennik współczesny (A Dreambook of Our Time) by Konwicki, adapted by Stanisław Wieszczycki and arranged by Obidniak in 1968.


In 1970 Izabella Cywińska arrived in Kalisz taking over Kalisz theatre for three unusually creative seasons She brought young actors and directors with Maciej Prus, Helmut Kajzar and Henryk Baranowski in the forefont. Jerzy Satanowski began his career as a theatre composer during her management in Kalisz. Among stage designers, working then in the Prosna were Zofia Wierchowicz, Andrzej Sadowski and Kazimierz Wiśniak. Cywińska started her management in a contemporarymanner directing Apetyt na czereśnie (Crave for Charries) by Osiecka and Śmieszny staruszek (Funny Old Man) by Różewicz and directed by Kajzar only to take up the most darling challenges. She added to the repertoire Wyzwolenie (Liberation) by Wyspiański with Henryk Talar as Konrad, Szewcy (Shoemakers) by Witkacy and Eric XIV by Strindberg (all performances directed by Prus). Even though she triumphed with socially sharp and rotesque Śmierć Tarełkina (Tarelkin’s Death) by Suchowo-Kobylin, awarded during XIII Kalisz Theatre Meetings, she did not hesitate to risk introducing less valuable literature verging on kitsch, such as Trędowata (The Leper Woman) by Mniszkówna, whose staging beat attendance records outpacing other adaptations of great novels like Noce i dnie (Nights and Days) or Między ustami a brzegiem pucharu (Between Lips and the Edge of the Cup).

After one-season management of Zbigniew Bebak, who, with little success, endeavoured to realise the avant-garde theatre by introducing Peiper's Szósta! Szósta! (Six! Sixl), Andrzej Wanat, a Kalisz citizen, became the host of Kalisz theatre in 1974/75. As an outstanding theatre expert and critic (later editor-in-chief of a monthly "Theatre''), with some experience as a literary manager of the Polish Theatre in Poznań, he attracted to Ka­lisz Tadeusz Minc, Witold Zatorski, Bohdan Hussakowski, a composer Stanisław Radwan and as stage-designers: Jan Polewka and Jerzy Grzego­rzewski. He offered Kalisz citizens an intellectual theatre with literary taste, discussing existential issues with the audience. Besides classical compositions by Słowacki, Fredro, Rittner and Czechow (beloved by Wanat), they also staged new dramas, open-to prablems of the times, such as: Zmierzch długiego dnia (Long Day's Journey into Night) by 0'Neill, Korzenie (The Roots) by Wesker or Motyle sq wolne (Butterflies are Free) by Gersh. During his management, Wanat tried his band as a director. In 1977, Waldemar Wilhelm took over for three seasons: His unquestionable achievement is creating another small-audience stage. In 1980 Romana Próchnicka, who brought an eleven-man group of her pupils, graduates of the Theatre Academy in Cracow, came to Kalisz for two seasons. That was the time when Tadeusz Słobodzianek had his debut as a playwright with Baśń jesienna (Autumn Fairly Tale). He kept the post of a literary manager and also successfully directed Osmędusze (Dolorousers) and Kabaret Kici-Koci (Miow Miow Cabaret) by Białoszewski. Janusz Stokłosa became the music manager and Rudolf Zioło collected his directing experience.

The next directors of the stage-on-Prosna were Maciej Grzybowski (1982-1991), sharing the artistic management with Roman Kordziński and Maciej Korwin, Zbigniew Lesień (1991-1994) and Jan Buchwald (1994-1998). Since 1998/99 Kalisz theatre has been managed by Jan Nowara, a Polish philologist and director, for many years a literary manager of Jan Kochanowski Theatre in Opole and a pro­gram consultant of Opole Theatre Confrontations called "Polish Classics".

Two-hundred-year tradition, initiated by Wojciech Bogusławski, compels to respect anything under the term of "national theatre" fulfilling its social role. However, it provokes to trespass this boundary craving for a live, young and hot theatre, not afraid to take a chance, carefully observing our present times and looking into the future. Simply - an artistic theatre.

Joanna Chojka Wojciech Bogusławski Theatre, Wydawnictwo Sztuka i Rynek



1. Bruś-Kosińska J., Budynki teatralne Kalisza, Kaliskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, Kalisz 2007.

2. Dzieje Kalisza, editor W. Rusiński, Poznań 1977.

3. „Gazeta Kaliska" 1936, No. 314, 3 16, 285.

4. Kaczmarek A., Dzieje kaliskich ulic, Kalisz 2002.

5. Kaliska świątynia Melpomeny, „Gazeta Poznańska" 1984, No. 191.

6. Kalisz w odświętnej szacie, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1936, No. 314.

7. Kaszyński S., Kalisz. Teatr, wydano nakładem społecznego komite­tu obchodu XVIII wieków Kalisza, Kalisz 1960.

8. Kaszyński S., Teatralia kaliskie. Materiały do dziejów sceny kaliskiej (1800-1970), Łódź 1972.

9. Kościelniak W., Cztery kaliskie teatry, „Ziemia Kaliska" 1983, No. 19.

10. Kościelniak W., Zabytki architektury Kalisza, Kalisz 1987.

11. Kościelniak W., Walczak K., Kronika miasta Kalisza, Kalisz 2002.

12. Niemojewski L., Czesław Przybylski - architekt - profesor, „Droga" 1936, No. 5, p. 410-416.

13. Odbudowa Teatru Miejskiego, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1919, No. 87.

14. Otwarcie Teatru Miejskiego im. Wojciecha Bogusławskiego w Kaliszu, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1936, No. 316.

15. Posiedzenie Komisji Teatralnej, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1936, No. 285.

16. Poświęcenie fundamentów pod teatr, „Gazeta Kaliska" 1920, No. 65.

17. Przybylski Cz., Kierunki architektoniczne w ostatnich dziesiątkach lat, "Przedświt" 1917, No. 1,2-3.

18. Remont kaliskiego teatru, „Gazeta Poznańska" 1983, No. 240.

19. 60 lat od zakończenia wojny w Kaliszu i w Hamm, editors M. Perrefort, K. Walczaka, J.A. Splitta, Hamm-Kalisz 2005.

20. Tołłoczko K., Pisać o Przybylskim jest to pisać historię przełomu w architekturze polskiej, „Architektura i Budownictwo" 1936, No. 8-9-10, p. 245.

21. Zarębska Teresa, Odbudowa centrum Kalisza po zniszczeniach w 1914, „Rocznik Kaliski" vol. 10/1977.

22. „Ziemia Kaliska" 1983 No. 13, 19; 1988, No. 1, 3,4; 1993, No. 44: 1990, No 20.

23. www.andreas-praefcke.de/cathalia

24. www.stary.kalisz.pl/go_teatr3.php

25. www.teatr.kalisz.pl



Autori: Bożena Grzegorczyk, Joanna Chojka

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