THE FIRST premiere in the Slovak Chamber Theatre (SKD) in Martin took place 70 years ago, on January 22, 1944. The theatre troupe that evolved from a Slovak Choir into a professional drama company, chose the piece Philip II by Belgian playwright Emile Verhaeren, which was directed by Andrej Bagar.
The play, a provocative drama about religious backwardness, showed the anti-totalitarian stance and the Martin staging was immediately banned by the pro-Nazi wartime Slovak regime, threatening the very existence of the young theatre. Several weeks after the premiere, Bagar was banned from working for the SKD and was exiled from Martin.
The theatre received no financial support from the state, surviving only on money from Matica Slovenská (a cultural institution created to preserve the national language and culture) and a local printing shop, Neografia and other businesses.
After the war, in January 1951, the name of Martin’s theatre changed to The Theatre of the Slovak National Uprising, but in October 1951 it was changed again to the Army Theatre, after a big garrison in the town.
On August 1, 1960, the theatre again came under the civilian administration, and in 2003, after 43 years, it went back to its original name, the Slovak Chamber Theatre, the TASR newswire wrote.
Currently, it is a dramatic stage offering contemporary plays, as well as pieces written specifically for its ensemble.
The Slovak Choir was founded in Martin in 1872, and in 1875 a theatre department was formed within it. The idea to launch a professional theatre emerged in 1941 and resulted in the staging of Philip II in 1944. The theatre had a big impact on Slovakia’s theatre culture, representing an “incubator” for emerging acting talents.
10. Mar 2014 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská