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History of Town Theater in Český Krumlov

Horní no. 153, overview The history of the municipal theater building, which was established in association with the Jesuit Order activity in Česky Krumlov goes back to the beginning of the 17th century. Theater had always played an important role in Jesuit religious and educational activity. The Jesuits began to use the former theater building in Horní No. 153 for their school and theatrical purposes in 1613. Theater performances were often connected with poetry reading or with oratory practice. School semesters often ended with theater performances and students' successful performances were usually specially rewarded. Before the end of the 16th century, Mikulas Salius from Prague who had come to Cesky Krumlov in 1586 came to the fore among other dramatic authors. His successful but not preserved drama on St. Vaclav is still known, and his play on St. Vitus was supposedly given in 1590. Another significant personality was Theofil Crysteccus, a Jesuit College rector in 1601. His popularity was obviously proven by the fact that in 1611 he was invited to the Emperor's court in Vienna to give a performance of his tragicomedy.

Title page of Terentie´s Comedy from 1499

Approximately in 1613, a wooden stage with a moving scene was established on the Jesuit College yard. In the middle of the 17th century, the stage was moved to a brick building rebuilt just for that purpose. An extensive interior renovation was carried out in 1663. In those days theatrical space covered whole floor of the building. Performances given in the Jesuit theater used particularly Bible or religious history motives or fiction stories with great emotional, religious and moral impact. All dramas were performed in Latin. Performances were given either in the theater or on improvised stages, in the Jesuit college or at the castle, and in some cases, they performed in Horni street and on the square. However, from the middle of 17th century the castle's society began to prefer secular motives in theater performances which could not have been sufficiently satisfied by the Jesuit theater.

Even though the Jesuit Order was dissolved at the end of 18th century, the building still served educational and theatrical purposes. The Municipal council used to rent the place occasionally to various guest theatrical ensembles. Further extensive interior arrangements were carried out during 1808 - 1812. A major part of the costs to the successful theater stage and audience renovation in 1810 was paid from the entrance fees of the previous performances. The theater was of double importance for the town: it enriched its otherwise certainly modest cultural life, and its revenues supported local institutions for the poor, to those that came to grief, and schools.

The first amateur theatrical ensemble in town was established only in 1852, although another record dates it to 1854. The ensemble consisted mainly of burghers and craftsmen.

Since the town did not have another appropriate space in the last century, concerts were held in the theater as well. One of the first concerts was held in 1856 for the 100th anniversary of W. A. Mozart's birth. Later on a male choir founded in 1856 was active there.

The situation in theatrical culture in town took a positive turn after 1919. A playwright Hans Sassmann and Südböhmische Schaubühne (South-Bohemian Theatre Scene) took credit for a permanent theater activity which contributed to the cultural and spiritual life not only in Česky Krumlov but throughout the whole Šumava region. The theater was sponsored by the government, municipal council and other individual admirers, for example by businessman Ignác Spiro.

The theatrical season in Česky Krumlov lasted for six months. Besides this, the ensemble members were allowed, according to regularly granted concessions, to perform in other South-Bohemian and West-Bohemian towns: in Kaplice, Nova Bystřice, Vimperk, Nýrsko, Volary, Prachatice, Kašperske Hory and others.

22 actors, 14 musicians and 15 technical and supporting employees worked in the theater during 1929- 1930. Several more individuals joined them later on.

Every season consisted of several dozens of classical dramas, folk plays, operas, operettas, concerts and children's performances. The theater attracted many visitors - for example, 25 thousand visitors saw performances of the 1928/29 season. The theater had 440 seats available.

Town theatre in Český Krumlov

Numerous guest performances of other theatrical ensembles took place there in addition to a permanent program. Besides many others, there was for example the South Bohemian National Theater and even the Marionette Theatrical Ensemble of Professor Josef Skupa from Plzeň performing here in 1934.

The Town Theater building served its original purpose even after 1945 until the beginning of the seventies. Then it was decided that the historical building was no longer sufficient enough for theatrical purposes, and became a part of a hotel. The very last performance in the building where theater had been played for more than 300 years was given in March 27, 1971.

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