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Home :: Archive :: 1991 :: March ::
Shakespearean Theatre in Gdansk
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 2, No. 89. Tuesday, 19 Mar 1991.
 
Date:         Mon, 18 Mar 91 21:57:15 EST
From:         Konrad <
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Subject:      Shakespeare in Gdansk?
 
[In the spirit of free electronic communication, endorsed by Ficino's
editor, Willard McCarty, I here reprint an interesting piece from
today's mailing, Ficino 1.0193.  KS]
 
I transcribe from a photocopy sent to me by Brian Parker, of the Dept of
English at the U of Toronto.
 
A SHAKESPEAREAN THEATRE IN GDANSK?
 
Yes, this is not a typographical error, nor is it a fantasy of an
amateur historian: a theatre of this type really existed in Gdansk (a
city of over one thousand years) for nearly two centuries, since its
erection in 1610. In its architectural design based on one of the
theatres in Shakespeare's London (namely, on the _Fortune_), this was in
fact the only known example of such a peculiar theatrical "import" on
the Continent. This was not only the first public theatre in Gdansk, but
also the first one in Poland. As such it may serve as a monument to the
city's culture in the period of its highest development. This was the
largest and the richest city on the Baltic.
 
The erection of a Shakespearean-in-type theatre in Gdansk would have
been impossible without the activity of professional English players
here, who in the first half of the seventeenth century frequently
performed in Gdansk, especially during the international St Dominic Fair
-- the Gdansk equivalent to the Frankfort Fair. It was these players (in
their times acclaimed as unsurpassed in their profession) who -- during
the lifetime of Shakespeare -- performed his plays in the Gdansk
theatre. We may assume that they also brought the architectural concept
to Gdansk.
 
Today, the reconstruction of this theatre in Gdansk is impossible
without the help and support not only of the inhabitants of Gdansk, but
also of all those people who show concern for the cultural past of the
Continent.
 
For many reasons this is not a local enterprise. As in London, where the
famous _Globe_ theatre is now being reconstructed, also in Gdansk a
foundation, "Theatrum Gedanense" (sponsored by the British Council, and
also by Peter Hall and Andrzej Wajda), was started for the
reconstruction of the Shakespearean-in-type theatre. This is not aimed
to be a mere monument, but a living theatre, in which all kinds of plays
may be performed. Its stage may also be used by visiting companies, or
by major festivals like the planned Shakespearean Festival of the
Theatre Festival of the Baltic States.
 
[the address on the photocopy for further information is: Jerzy Limon
(prezes), Theatrum Gedanense, 80-834 Gdansk, ul. Sw. Ducha 2, Poland;
the telephone number is (058) 31-70-21]
 
Konrad Eisenbichler
 

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