Kačina Castle Theatre

The theatre at Kačina Chateau
is not as well known as those in Český Krumlov or Litomyšl,
but it is certainly worth a visit. Kačina Chateau is a beautiful
neoclassical building, one of the most important
of that era in our country. It was built by
Count Johann Rudolf Chotek, one of the most powerful
men in the monarchy, according to a design by Dresden
architect Friedrich Christian Schuricht. Construction took a long time, and
was led by other architects as well. When the Chotek family moved in
in 1823, the theatre, which is in the pavilion behind me,
was not yet completed. It took another more than 20 years
before it was finally done. Until then, the Choteks had a theatre at their older chateau
in nearby Nové Dvory, and a hall in the main chateau building
was temporarily used as a theatre well. The theatre is in
the adjoining pavilion. Next to it is a chapel
that was never fully completed. The theatre’s opening
ceremony was in 1851, although we know that plays were
being presented as early as in 1848, while the theatre
was still being completed. The count himself
contributed to its interiors. In the 19th century, the main
organizer of theatrical life was Rudolf Chotek, the great-grandson
of the chateau’s builder, who organized the theatre’s
activities for nearly 20 years. The theatre presented his plays as well.
Besides the comedies popular at the time, the theatre presented 13 of his plays,
written specifically for the Kačina theatre. Naturally, the actors
came from the nobility, and the audiences did as well. Theatre activities at Kačina apparently
came to an end around 1870. Since then, the theatre has been closed, and it has been preserved in
a relatively good state until today. Today, the chateau’s theatre
can be seen on a tour of the chateau. Should you come to visit, you will see the exquisite auditorium
with two balconies along the rear wall, and the count’s loge
on the main floor. The theatre is also
interesting in its design. The stage makes use of an
essentially modern system for raising the scenery,
backdrops, and borders up into the tall space
above the stage – the fly loft. The scenery was not
rolled up or folded away, as in Krumlov or Litomyšl. This system has been partially
preserved to this day. One remarkable feature are the
shafts used for the counterweights that were used to balance out
the weight of the decorations. Also preserved is a portion of
the hot-air heating system, which had been installed
throughout the chateau, as well as a small portion
of the original decorations. Housed in Prague’s National Museum
are several of the theatre’s costumes: A set of more than 20 items,
primarily children’s costumes in which Count Rudolf Chotek and
his brother performed as children, possibly even
before the theatre’s completion. Kačina Chateau is
certainly worth a visit for many other reasons
besides the theatre. It is surrounded
by a beautiful English garden, and today the chateau is administered
by the National Museum of Agriculture.

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