Warsaw historic buildings – the “Polish Theatre” (Teatr Polski)


A theatre founded at the initiative of Arnold Szyfman opened in 1913. It is housed at 2 Karasia Street, a building completed in 1912 to a design by Czesław Przybylski and fitted with what was then state-of-the-art equipment (Poland’s first revolving stage). In the interwar period the Teatr Mały (Small Theatre) and Teatr Komedia (Comedy Theatre) operated as its branches. The theatre had a second venue in 1949-2001 – initially called the Teatr Kameralny, and later the Scena Kameralna (at 16 Foksal St.).

“…Warsaw desperately needed a theatre not just with a modern structure and stage equipment, but also modern artistic plans, especially in terms of production, directing, and decorative art, something completely unknown in Warsaw in those days,” wrote the theatre’s founder Arnold Szyfman. “Besides, the aim was to set up a theatre which would systematically cultivate a classic repertoire and foster audience interest in it. The general motto of the newly established theatre was: a work of art in the most perfect artistic form.” (Arnold Szyfman, “Powstanie Teatru Polskiego. Teatr Polski w Warszawie 1913-1923”)

The theatre was a private enterprise. The first general manager, in 1912-1939, was Szyfman himself, who also ran the theatre in 1945-1949 and 1955-1957. The inaugural premiere at its Warsaw headquarters took place in January 1913. It was Zygmunt Krasiński’s IRYDION directed by Arnold Szyfman, with stage design by Karol Frycz.

During World War II the theatre was taken over by the Nazis and operated as the Theater der Stadt Warschau in 1940-1944. Propaganda department of the General Government in Nazi ocupadied Poland gave the post of the director of the theatre  to Igo Sym – an Austrian-born Polish actor and collaborator with Nazi Germany. He was also the director of the Nur für Deutsche cinema, the Helgoland (former Palladium), and licensee at the Teatr Komedia. Igo Sym was killed in Warsaw by members of the Polish resistance movement on March 7, 1941.

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The theatre building was partially destroyed during Warsaw Uprising 1944, but comparing to the average rate of the city distruction the damages were not severe.

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