There was a wide variety of theatres in the 18th century varying from theatres with box seating [Palais Royal Opera House in Paris and the Margravina's Opera House in Bayreuth) to theatres with galleries (Cesky Krumlov Court Theatre) to theatres built in ballrooms (Mnichovo Hradiste). Two types from the Czech Republic are shown here.
The Court Theatre at Cesky Krumlov
In May 1999 my wife and I were able to visit at the court theatre Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic. We spent about a week studying the stagehouse and its machinery. These animations are a result of that research trip. Although this theatre contains some of the same machinery as the court theatres at Drottningholm and Gripsholm, there are distinct differences.
The stagehouse contains four levels:
- The substage contains the wing change machinery, the footlight raising device and four elevators
- The stage level contains the stage traps, scenic wings, and pivoting proscenium doors
- The lower gallery contains a border change shaft with winch handles
- The upper gallery contains a second border change shaft, winches for controlling the brailed front curtain, borders and drops, and tracks for the flying machine.
Cesky Krumlov Stagehouse
More detail on the theatre at Cesky Krumlov may be found at: http://www.ckrumlov.cz/uk/zamek/5nadvori/i_bd.htm and at "The Court Theatre at Cesky Krumlov and its Machinery."
The Court Theatre at Mnichovo Hradiste
Mnichovo Hradiste is a small town north of Prague. Although the palace was begun in the seventeenth century, a theatre was built in one of the great halls at the end of the eighteenth century. The present theatre, however, was installed in 1833. It is unique since it is one of the few continental theatres that used the groove system for the wing change instead of the typical mechanized system.
The theatre is relatively small; the proscenium is about 22 feet wide by almost 14 feet high. The entire hall is about 32 feet wide by 60 feet long.
Mnichovo Hradiste Stage
Mnichovo Hradiste Auditorium
The Parts of Theatre
Although there is no evidence that the theatre was intended to be a temporary installation, the theatrical elements appear to be easily removed. The illustration shows the parts necessary to turn a ballroom into a theatre.
Parts of Theatre
Additional information about the theatre at Mnichovo Hradiste may be found at: "THE COURT THEATRE AT MNICHOVO HRADISTE: THE GROOVE SYSTEM SURVIVES ON THE CONTINENT."
Dr. Frank Mohler
Department of Theatre & Dance
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608