The construction of the National Theatre, on the basis of plans by architect Mária Siklós, began on 14 September 2000, and, after a construction process of record-breaking speed, was completed in a little over 15 months. The artists were able to take possession of the building on 2 January 2002, when rehearsals began for the inaugural performance on 15 March. In functional terms, the theatre is divided into three parts. The central part comprises the auditorium, with an almost circular ground-plan, and the studio theatre. This part is surrounded by the areas for audience members, and the U-shaped technical wing bordering the main stage. The theatre is surrounded by areas for parking. Together with the open-air stage, the area of the theatre is 20,844 square metres.
To the left and right of the theatre’s longitudinal axis, stairs lead up to the various floors, following the curve of the ambulatory’s outside wall. Passage by foot is accompanied by two panoramic lifts in front of the pylons at both sides of the lobby’s panoramic window. The centrally located cloakroom is on the ground floor, underneath the auditorium. The refreshments bar is on the first floor, while the space on the second and third floors acts as a gallery from which to take in the view of the Danube and the Buda hills.
The main stage has a capacity of 619, and the entrances to the auditorium are along the ambulatories on the first, second and third floors. The boxes are on the second floor, with three royal boxes in the centre. The gallery is on the third floor, where there are technical rooms between the entrances. The ceiling of the auditorium is enclosed by an oval cupola.
The main stage measures 24 by 17.9 metres and is 28 metres in height. The visible part is 12 by 7 metres. The stage is complemented by a rounded apron stage, and connected to it are a rear stage of 15 by 15 metres and a side stage of 18 by 15 metres.
The performance space of the main theatre is a real moving stage: with 72 points where it can be raised or lowered, it is unique in Europe. The 1 x 2 metre platforms represent a total area of 144m2. These elements can be moved, lowered or tipped, separately or together. Almost all the area directly in front of the auditorium is also movable: the guard-rail, the platforms in the orchestra pit, and the section between the pit and the stage. In total, there are 12 guard-rails and 12 platforms in the pit which can move.
The studio stage is a black space which can flexibly be altered as necessary. Its capacity is 120-180. It is located on the floor underneath the ground-floor lobby and main auditorium, and its own stage and seating space can be varied depending on the needs of the play being performed.
The preparation of plays is served by three rehearsal rooms that accompany the stages, to be found on the second, fourth and fifth floors. The rehearsal room on the fourth floor is also home to a recording studio. The building also provides for a library and an archive, and boasts the panoramic actors’ club on the top floor.
- 2011/2012 schedule
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