Celebrating its ties with the English playwright, the Gdansk
Shakespeare Theatre hosted actors on its opening night from
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, who are putting on
"Hamlet" there this week.
Revolving platforms and 56 lifts allow the theater to change
from an Elizabethan stage, to a box-set or into a central
theater-in-the-round, and its 90-tonne roof can open or shut in
three minutes. Shows are viewed from a three-storey gallery.
The theater, built with help of EU funds, stands where the
Fencing School - modeled on London's Fortune Playhouse - stood
more than 400 years ago and hosted English troupes, performing
Shakespeare's plays just a few years after the London premieres.
Viewed by a capacity, 680-strong audience inside the theater,
and relayed via a video screen to thousands more outside, the
opening show on Friday was a performance of theatrical fencing
by The Royal Drama School RESAD from Madrid and a display by
Poland's MIRA-ART Acrobats.
“A memorable day,” Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk told the
audience, thanking the theater's Managing Director Jerzy Limon
for his “huge faith and determination” in giving life to “this
theater impressing us all with its appearance, functionality,
architecture and modernity”.
In the heart of Gdansk's Old City, meticulously rebuilt after
widespread bomb damage during World War Two, the theater's
modern exterior nevertheless evokes the Gothic architecture of
Gdansk’s many historic brick-built churches.
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Italian architect Renato Rizzi’s choice of Belgian black bricks to
cover the whole exterior, is in stark contrast to the galleried
wooden auditorium and stone-clad foyer.
“Black like a black dress or a black suit, emphasizing the elegance
of art,” Limon told journalists during a guided tour before the
“But our building, however interesting in itself, now has to be
filled with content that belongs to the 21st century but does not
deny tradition,” said Limon, who lobbied for 25 years to get the
Following the official opening, the theater's first week -Sept.
20-26 - offers performances of "Hamlet" from Shakespeare's Globe and
"Missing" by British performing arts company Gecko.
(Editing by Michael Roddy and Louise Ireland)
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