Weitra Castle Theatre

The town of Weitra was founded
in the early 13th century. At the time, the entire region
belonged to the Bohemian crown. The area became Austrian
after the death of Ottokar II. Around that time, a small castle
was built on a hill above town. In the late 16th century,
Rudolf II’s imperial architect Pietro Ferrabosco
renovated the castle for Rudolf’s chamberlain, more or
less giving it the form it has today: A Renaissance chateau with
an arcade-lined courtyard. The castle has been owned
by the Fürstenberg family since the early 17th century. In the mid-18th century, the
Fürstenbergs split into several lines. Weitra belongs to the Weitra
line of Landgrave Fürstenberg. The chateau theatre was probably
established in the 18th century, but not much is known of its history. The theatre we see today received its current
form in the 19th century. The theatre received its current look through renovations commissioned
in 1885 by Landgrave Eduard Egon. The renovations were based on plans
by Viennese architect Führer. The decorations were done by
Viennese artists and by artisans from
nearby Nové Hrady. The theatre has survived
in this form until today, although not in its entirety. Today, we can see the
richly decorated auditorium with a balcony and three
boxes along the rear wall. However, only part of the
original stage has survived, including fragments of
the old stage technology. The stage was renovated
in the 20th century, but we do not know precisely
when or in what manner. In any case, by the time of Weitra’s 800th anniversary in 1983
the high fly loft had been divided by a concrete false ceiling,
so these parts of the stage technology are in two separated rooms,
on two separated levels. The stage was operated
in a manner similar to that at the Bohemian theatre in Kaèin
or in nearby Nové Hrady. At least some of the decorations were
not rolled or folded, but drawn up directly into the fly loft
over the stage using pulleys. The theatre possessed gas lighting, and we know from surviving signs that the Fürstenbergs performed
here with their friends. These signs, which today
hang in the theatre lobby, mention performances from as
early as the 1850s and 1860s, so we know that the theatre
was in operation even before it received today’s look. The theatre was apparently still
in use in the early 20th century, since both the theatre
and the surrounding rooms contain old electrical wiring led along the surface of the walls, as well as a unique switchboard
that made it possible to regulate the intensity of
the electrical lighting. The theatre was renovated for Weitra’s
800th anniversary celebrations in 1983. Since then, it is occasionally used for cultural purposes such as the local amateur theatre
troupe and occasional concerts.

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