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Joan Brehms

(1907 - 1995) Theatre architect, scenographer

Joan Brehms, portrait Born in Lithuania (Libava). He studied at the Academy of Arts in Jena and Erfurt (1927) and on the Bauhaus in Weimar, and worked in Poland and Germany. From 1945 to 1978 he was scenery director of the Theatre of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. In 1958 he designed the first theatre with a revolving auditorium, built in the castle gardens in Český Krumlov. During the South Bohemia theatre festivals, he took advantage of many settings for theatre plays, such as the Masquerade Hall and second castle courtyard. He also put the original stage machinery at the baroque theatre into service so that performances could be played there. One of his most famous projects was a swinging auditorium of Karlštejn castle; in 1969 he designed a polydimensional theatre space with a revolving auditorium as well as stage (this project was patented in 1974 but has never been realised). World scenographic literature has ranked Joan Brehms among the world\'s best scenographers, mainly for his design of the revolving auditorium in Český Krumlov.

A resumé of the theatre architect\'s life and work :

1907

Born on 5. 7. as son of surgeon Brehms in the port city of Libava, on the Baltic Sea

1917

First school years and the October Revolution in Leningrad

1918

Returning to Libava via Finland. November 18 - foundation of the republic of Latvia. Commencement of secondary school education concluded with school leaving examination. Participation in school theatre activities

1925

After completing secondary education, he begins to study art at Jena and Erfurt Academy of Art. During these studies he attends lectures held by professor Walter Gropius in the Bauhaus of Weimar.

1927

While studying he begins to work as volunteer at the Municipal Theatre of Erfurt, later at the Mun icipal Theatre of Lübeck. There he brings out his first independent staging of Wedekind\'s "Awakening of Spring". Helps arranging the First World Theatre Exhibition of Magdeburg where he meets a number of preeminent dramatic experts. Participation in the display of Shakespeare\'s royal dramas in Bochum, meets Saladin Schmidt, Johannes Schröder and dramatist Gerhard Hauptmann.

1928

Establishment of his own theatre group with whom he plays also his own productions in the Latvian countryside.

1929-32

Creative artist, then head of scenery of the Dramatic Theatre in Riga, cooperates with professor Max Reinhardtfrom Berlin during hisstaythere.

1932

Chief creative artist of Deutsche Bühne in Breslau.

1933-36

Head of scenery at Lobe and G. Hauptmann theatre in Breslau, also producer.

1936-37

Scenographer and producer of the Silesian Theatre in Brieg - travels to Rio de Janeiro with producer B. Harprecht as touring creative artist.

1937-38

Scenographer of the Municipal Theatre of Brandenburg.

1938-39

Head of setting of the Dramatic Theatre in Riga, friendship with progressive producer E. Smilgis from the Dailes theatre in Riga.

1939-43

Head of setting of the Municipal Theatre of Bydgoszcz.

1943-45

Head of setting of Gdansk theatre, meets composer H. Sutermeister.

1945

Close-down of all theatres, slave labour in Southern Slovakia, desertion to Red Army, comes with the Red Army to České Budějovice, commences work as scenographer with the South Bohemian Theatre. In July 1945, he puts on stage his first play - Gorki\'s "Vassa Železnova".

1945-79

Head of setting of the South Bohemian Theatre, developes a number of space experimentsand realisations, projects.

Summary of experiments and desing:

1945-57

Brehms, the theatre architect and scenographer puts into effect his creative space experiments by leading theatre performances from the inside of the theatre out onto open squares, village greens, in front of hístorical buildings, into parks, in front of factories, into assembly halls, practically using globally theatre space without the separating curtain, without the portal frame and ramp.

1952

Brehms develops the idea of a revolving auditorium and, on June 9, 1958, he is the first to put it into effect as an experiment in the castle park of Český Krumlov.

1963

In the South Bohemian Theatre he creates a double auditorium without curtain and separating frames for the inscenation of Shakespeare\'s "Taming of the Shrew".

1965

Circular theatre installations are created in the garden of the Dominican Monastery at České Budějovice as well as in the Masquerade Hall of Český Krumlov castle "The Eye Doctor".

1968

Project and realisation of shuttle theatre installations in the court yard of Karlstejn Castle for the play "A Night on Karlštejn" where an intimate central stage area is being formed by tilting half the mobile auditorium in the opposite direction.

1977

To stage Weisenborn\'s "Lofter" for 80 people inside the theatre the revolving auditorium is being transferred onto the stage of the old theatre of České Budějovice with the help of the old turn-table.

1979

The project of polydimensional theatre installations in the open air - Czechoslovak patent 1979 - has, for the time being, not yet been realised.

1982

Realisation of a variable theatre consisting of five mobile metal platforms that can be moved at will, according to the needs of various inscenations on the stage of the old theatre.

1985

Work at the project of placing a polydimensional devile closed-in theatre space i. e. making possible all hitherto known forms of theatrical expression without technical ortemporal difficulties.

(hj)