The History of the Theatre
The first "Comedy Play" was held in Satu Mare in 1790, and the company of Móricz János, with three members, pushed Thália's cart into the city for the first time. János Jeney, a contemporary eyewitness, mentions about the first Hungarian speaking performance in his home country:
“The comedy-playing company of director Móricz János, which consisted of three members, was the great joy among the many troubles of the people of the city. It was the first theatre company in the city of Satu Mare, and they gave performances on July 8, 10 and 13. "
This data is significant, as it imposes on us the responsibility of cultivating a tradition that coincides with the creation of Hungarian acting. From then on, the city regularly received guest companies: those from Cluj-Napoca, Debrecen, Miskolc and Kassa.
In 1836, during his short career as a traveling actor, Arany János also performed here as a member of Hubay Gusztáv’s company. During this period, the theatrical culture of the city is being established, as it is only a reception place, it cannot maintain either a company or a building intended for this purpose, they played on stages at the „Fehér ház” Inn, the great hall of the Csizmadia-szín, Jeney barn, or the Kotró Garden. The presence of the Hungarian word introduced it to the “stages” of Satu Mare, making it necessary to cultivate mother tongue education.
The significance of the heroic era lies in the fact that the reviving theatre movement raised and cultivated its audience. The people of Satu Mare not only learned to go to the theatre, but often took to the stage themselves: a strong amateur movement often made up for the lack of professional actors. Thus, half a century later, the occasionally assembled stages became narrow, and the need for a theatre building arose.
In 1847, the city of Satu Mare built a separate theatre building, which was opened on March 20, 1848 with a decorative performance. The building, designed by architect Friedl János, was one of the first stone theatres in the country. In accordance with the increased demands, the hall was expanded with 10 lodges in 1857 and leased to the ensemble of co-directors Molnár György and Hetény József. The after the defeat of the war of independence is resolved by the appearance of this excellent director in Satu Mare. György Molnár later established the Buda Folk Theatre and he discovers Blaha Lujza and Jászai Mari.
A favourable breeding ground for wealth prosperity and agreement in the boom of the arts. The civilization aspirations that began in the first decades of the 20th century, followed by the construction of the railway network, made it possible to bring actors from the capital to the countryside, and last but not least they played a role in shaping the taste and worldview of the audience. Directors were regularly contracted to organize seasons, and famous artists of the age were invited to perform as guests. The renowned artist of the National Theatre, Kornélia Prielle, celebrates her 50th anniversary as an actor in Satu Mare, as her first stage performance took place here (in the Kotró Garden) on June 10, 1841.
Among the directors we meet the name of Szigligeti Ede in 1865, who later became the director of the National Theatre and a notable pioneer in the creation of Hungarian drama.. Szigligeti organized only one season, a season, that cannot be neglected. On one hand, if such a famous, conceptual artist took over the management of the theatre in Satu Mare, he must have found a situation here that meets his principles and expectations. On the other hand, the influence of large individuals is lasting, not just valid for the duration of their presence. The time when Szigligeti visited Satu Mare is also significant: during this period, theatres began to play more and more Hungarian works and Hungarian translations of classics instead shallow imitations. Browsing through the list of plays played, they found a full range of dramatic genres: opera, operetta, singing farce, folk, drama, classical and contemporary authors.
In the last third of the 19th century, the growing number of merchants and craftsmen in Satu Mare took on the role of patron. As a result of the desire of the city bourgeoisie, a new theatre building was planned to be built in 1887. Over time, the old theatre has been expanded to suit the needs, lodges and gallery have been added, but now it is in the way of the expansion of the neighbouring town hall, so it is doomed to demolition.
On May 18, 1889, the solemn foundation ceremony of the new theatre building was held. As usual, a few memorabilia were built into the foundation wall as a message to posterity: a few coins, a list of city officers and a representatives list, and the history of the theatre. Its designer was Voyta Adolf from Pápa, the construction was led by Szikszay Lajos, an architect from Debrecen. The interior decoration was made by Spannraft Lajos and Hirsch Gyula.
On January 14, 1892, the city theatre building was inaugurated, which still serves the cause of Thalia in Satu Mare. The opening ceremony is attested to by a "Memorial Card", in which city archivist Fodor György describes the history of "acting in Satu Mare" and the works of poets Mátray Lajos and Komócsy József are included on the occasion of the opening of the theatre. The company of Kömley Gyula performed at the ceremony, and in the following years they took possession of the theatre. A short but brighter period follows in the history of acting in Satu Mare. The famous director of Szeged, Lajos Makó, rents the theatre in the 1894-95 season, and the Committee acknowledges its operation with complete satisfaction and even special praise. The first decade of the turn of the century proves to be a happy time of peace, the season is extended according to interest: it lasts from September to August.
The directors settle here for several years, often inviting renowned artists to perform as guests, and they are happy to come to the delight of the audience. Beregi Oszkár and Márkus Emília, the artists of the National Theatre performed several times on the stage in Satu Mare, in 1913 Mari Jászai played the Stuart Maria here. The work of the director Heves Béla (1908 - 1914) was a blessing for the theatre, because he organized the performances with extraordinary sophistication: he made the sets in Pest, the clothes in Vienna, so he risked a lot for success. World War I also completely shattered theatre companies, with young actors fighting for their lives in the horrific scenery of battlefields. After the war ended, the theatrical movement revived in the same building but in a new situation. The Satu Mare Society joins the Romanian Actors' Association, and the City Theatre Committee is dissolved. From 1920 to 1924, Szabadkai József took over the management of the theatre he contracted an excellent company joined by Nemenyi Lili, Kecskés Ida, Sárközi Blanka, Krémer Ferenc, Borovszki Oszkár, Deési Jeno, Mihályi KárolyThe artists of the National Theatre of Cluj-Napoca were also called more and more, members of dr. Jankovics Jeno's company. Despite the lively interest, directors are struggling with increasingly difficult financial problems, and high rents are not easy to achieve.
Despite the difficulties, the theatre operates continuously between the two world wars. They were still able to play the works of Hungarian authors: Gárdonyi, Móricz, Molnár, Hunyadi his pieces are often featured on the repertoire , with fashionable operettas of the age along with the works of Zerkovitz, Kálmán, Lehár. In 1925, director Szendrei Mihály called renowned famous artists as guest: Poór Lór from Cluj-Napoca, Gróf László from Oradea, Megyaszai Vilma from Budapest, who recited and sang poems by Petofi and Ady. Under the second directorate of Szabadkay József (1933-38) they built a revolving stage, which was destroyed in the Second World War, and since then they have not been able to replace it..
During the Second World War, the theatre building was also hit, and the theatre became unusable for a long time. The Cecil and the Craftsman Home welcomed the audience who wanted to entertain and the theatre companies that complemented their arts.
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