Budapest’s “New Theater”
„The building of the Új Színház (New Theatre) stands in the heart of Budapest in the vicinity of the Opera House. The venue has a rich and stormy history of names, companies, profiles, functions and architectural shapes. By today the façade with the characteristic gilded cherubs is the only element by the original creator, architect Béla Lajta (1873-1920) that was possible to reconstruct in the characteristic milieu.
The building, erected in 1909, started its life as music hall, on the name of Parisiana. Its auditorium was composed of the ground floor furnished with tables and chairs, the walls paved with stone and wood, a winter garden upstairs and a narrow gallery. In 1910 the building changed its name to Crystal Palace, two years later to Dance Palace. In 1919 the Vaudeville Theatre (Revüszínház) moves in and the stalls are furnished with seat rows.
In 1921 the theatre undergoes a reconstruction based on the Neo Baroque designs and the present-day shape of the auditorium is formed, with boxes. After the reconstructions a series of companies work there: Chamber Theatre of the National Theatre, Kamra Theatre, Andrássy Theatre, Művész Színház. After the nationalization in 1949 it becomes Pioneer Theatre and later Youth Theatre, adapting its repertory to the new target audience.
At the beginning of the fifties the façade was reshaped again following the socialist-realist style. The stone pavement was removed, the entrances redesigned and a new name taken up: this time Jókai Theatre. Other names and companies followed: Bartók Theatre from 1971, Arany János Theatre (in the eighties), Budapest Children’s Theatre (1974). An echo of the latter is the wall in the foyer upstairs featuring a frieze painted by children.
The visitor today can simultaneously admire the Art Deco façade of Béla Lajta and the Baroque splendour of the auditorium. „