SEVENTY years ago, the first premiere of a play on a professional stage in the eastern-Slovak city of Prešov took place on January 30. The piece was a classical comedy by Slovak author Ferko Urbánek, Škriatok / Goblin.

The ensemble was called Slovenské Divadlo / Slovak Theatre and it played in the historical building of the current theatre (which still exists) named after Slovak playwright, Jonáš Záborský (Divadlo J.Z., or DJZ).

Head of the DJZ, Ján Hanzo, told the SITA newswire that rather than celebrating the construction of the building, or the establishment of theatre as an institution, they celebrate the appearance of a professional theatre stage in Prešov. The programme was first focused on drama, and only later, partially due to pressure from visitors, did it begin staging musicals and operettas. Alas, there is no permanent musical ensemble in Prešov now, but according to Hanzo, music and dance are part of the plays staged there – and even on January 30, in the commemorative performance of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s The Visit, there was a live pianist performing onstage.

Apart from a series of performances (e.g. a premiere of Amadeus, the fairy tale The Snow Queen, etc.), a photo exhibition was opened in the foyer that commemorates the history of theatre in Prešov. For the weekend of February 8-9, the “Discovering Prešov” / Objavovanie Prešova event focused on the local theatre.

Hanzo pointed out that the first professional stage in Prešov did not start operating in a time of stability and prosperity, but quite the opposite – during the Second World War, in 1944.

“Maybe this is also part of the challenge – for us to keep such a hard won theatre alive and develop it further,” he concluded.
Compiled by Spectator staff