Dubrovnik theatre – the artistic centre
“All the world’s a stage and the men and women merely players.” Never has this Shakespeare line been truer than with the Old City of Dubrovnik. Every stone has been used as a stage, every facade a backdrop for a performance; this is a city of culture and a city of theatre. The renowned Dubrovnik Summer Festival, which this year is celebrating its 66th anniversary, creates stages from every corner of the Old City. The local citizens are more than used to seeing one of Shakespeare’s classics being performed on their doorstep.
The Dubrovnik theatre is located in the very heart of the city and is named after Dubrovnik's most famous author. In 1865, during the time of the Austrian rule of Dubrovnik, the theatre was constructed. At that time the theatre was named after the rich benefactor who invested his own money to finance the project. And so it was that the “Bonda Theatre” was born, named after Luko Bonda, and played host to performances all the way up to the start of World War II. In 1944 the Dubrovnik National Theatre was founded and the theatre was renamed Marin Drzic Theatre after the renowned local playwright and poet. In fact a statue of Dubrovnik's favourite bard stands outside of the theatre today.
Entering the Marin Drzic theatre today feels like stepping back in time. Although the theatre is compact is also grand. Three levels of private balconies ring the stall seating area and a wide stage gives every member of the audience a perfect view. Beautifully designed balustrades, intricate woodwork and heavy velvet curtains, this is both a luxurious and elegant theatre. With seating for up to 350 people there is a bond between the actors and the audience and many a great play has been performed on this stage. Take the time to look up; the ceiling was painted by the famous Dubrovnik artist Vlaho Bukovac in 1901.
With its intimacy and splendour the Marin Drzic Theatre is the city’s artistic heart and soul. It isn’t a museum to times gone by but a living and breathing space that attracts theatregoers from far and wide. And to be the only theatre in a city that lives for art means that its doors are never closed. Marin Drzic would have been proud to witness one of his classics being performed in this theatre.