Experiencing Drama and Artistry: Check These Five Theatres in Zagreb

Zagreb is full of interesting theatres, and one day I’ll write a comprehensive guide to the theatre scene in Zagreb, but this time I’ll limit myself to five theatres.

Let’s start with one of the most beautiful buildings in Zagreb’s most beautiful squares. If you’re from Zagreb, you know it already – I’m talking about the Croatian National Theatre in the Republic of Croatia Square.

The Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, commonly called HNK Zagreb (Croatian Hrvatsko narodno kazalište), is a Zagreb theatre, opera, and ballet house. The theatre evolved from the first city theatre in 1834, housed in the present-day Old City Hall. The theatre was first established as the Croatian National Theatre in 1860, and in 1861 it gained government support putting it on par with many other European national theatres.

In 1870 an opera company was added to the theatre, and in 1895, it moved to the new purpose-built building on Republic of Croatia Square in Zagreb’s Lower Town, where it is based today. The building was the project of famed Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Herman Helmer, whose firm had built several theatres in Vienna. At the entrance of the theatre is the wall fountain, The Source of Life (Zdenac života), designed by Croatian artist and sculptor Ivan Meštrović in 1905.

The Croatian National Theater in Zagreb is part of the Opera Europa, FEDORA platform, and European Theatre Convention. The theater also has three ensembles: drama, opera, and ballet.

During spring and summer, the theatre organizes fun activities around the building, attracting many people.

The second theatre is the Komedija Theatre (“komedija “translated into English means “comedy “), located in Kaptol and specializes in musicals. There are 442 seats in the theatre.

It was opened in 1950 as a legal successor to the Zagreb Drama Theatre and the Vedri Kerempuh Theatre. Notable pieces that premiered there include the 1971 musical Jalta, Jalta, and the first Croatian rock opera Gubec-beg (1981). The theatre has a rich history and has been an important part of the cultural scene in Zagreb for many years.

The next theatre on this short list is Gavella Theatre, located on Frankopanska Street. It is a Croatian theatre that opened on October 30th, 1954, as the successor of “Helios” cinema, founded and financed by Croatian industrialist Adolf Müller. The theatre has a rich history and has been an essential part of the cultural scene in Zagreb for many years. It has a diverse repertoire and offers a wide range of performances.

Let me continue with the Zagreb Youth Theatre (Croatian Zagrebačko kazalište mladih), usually called ZeKaeM.

The theatre was founded on March 29th, 1948, as Pioneer Theatre (Croatian: Pionirsko kazalište), and its first director was Božena Begović. In 1967, it changed its name to the current one, and in 1977, it became a professional theatre employing young, just-graduated actors.

The theatre is considered a modern and prestigious theatre in line with recent European trends in performing arts. It is recognized and respected outside the Croatian borders as well. The theatre has multidirectional programming guidelines, an experienced and agile ensemble, and a preference for exploring various interlacings of the genre. It is actively engaged in questioning social and political actualities. It is known for staging dramatic texts of classics re-evaluated by new theatre paradigms and texts of contemporary world playwrights.

The theatre is also essential for its school for children. Some consider it the cradle of the Croatian contemporary theatrical scene due to the many actors and authors studying there.

For the last theatre on this list, I’ve chosen the Kerempuh Satirical Theatre (Croatian Satiričko kazalište Kerempuh), which is a theatre founded in 1964 by the notable theatre and movie director Fadil Hadžić. It is located in the Fadil Hadžić Passage 3 (you enter at the Ilica 31). The theatre was initially established as a cabaret under the name “Jazavac” and is named after a folk hero that ridicules the powerful.

The theatre has a capacity of 600 seats and specializes in satirical plays. The plays are original productions or adaptations of authors such as Miro Gavran, Mate Matišić, Fadil Hadžić, and Goran Vojnović and include actors and directors such as Tarik Filipović, Hrvoje Kečkeš, Mario Kovač, Vinko Brešan, and Oliver Frljić.

The Kerempuh Theatre is an essential part of the cultural scene in Zagreb and is known for its humorous and thought-provoking productions.

This is all for this short article. I’ve already mentioned it, but I’ll repeat it: There are many more exciting theatres in Zagreb, and I’ll write more about them in a detailed guide for theatres in Zagreb, so be sure to bookmark discoverzagreb.com for more informative articles!

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of discoverzagreb.com. I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and discoverzagreb.com, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

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