New Slovak National Theatre - after 20 years and lots of controversy

New Slovak national theatre

Few major public building projects are controversy free. And so it is with the new Slovak National Theatre. After twenty years of planning and building it's finally ready for the public. It's located on the banks of the Danube River a few minutes away from the historical part of Bratislava. The new National Theatre puts a roof over the 3 main national ensembles: the ballet, the opera and the theatre. There are three and the main one holds 900 people. In the final days before the grand opening Radio Slovakia's Emilie White played her role - and went to investigate..

Saturday April the 14th was the date assigned for the grand opening of the new Slovak national theatre. But only half of the population knew about it. The head of the association of Slovak theatre critics, Zuzana Ulicianska thinks that it's because of a poor marketing campaign that so few Slovaks know.

"The recent survey says that roughly half of the population knows that the new building is going to be open. I would say it's still not enough. I would say that they should have been informed much more, not through the media and regular coverage because I think this is quite good, but through marketing instruments."

After twenty one years of building the new national theatre you would think it would be ready for its grand opening. But the theatre after 21 years is still not ready because of so many construction problems.

One of the main problems with the building is that the pivoting stage in the main hall simply does not work. After the initial embarrassment, the decision was taken to get rid of it this summer. All this will be costing more public money and taking more time: Zuzana Ulicianska explains.

"That is one of the most painful details. At the moment, it's not possible to use it. The standard of it, it's not good for dancing, for anything."

The new theatre cost about 5 billion Slovak crowns to be built over twenty one years. The spokesperson of the Slovak national theatre, Zuzana Golianova, thinks that it was well worth it.

"I can say personally that I love this building because it's really nice inside, and we try to put inside some details like, for example, carpet or flowers, some details which make the place better."

The general director of the Slovak national theatre Silvia Hroncova knows about the infrastructure problems like parking. Hroncova explains.

"Today, we are trying to solve the parking problem by finding areas neighboring the building. But the best thing will be when Euroway will be built (in two years from now). There will be 1500 (one thousand five hundred) parking spots. So will have to cooperate with them then."

Theatre critic Zuzana Ulicianska thinks that the little parking will cause a headache to audiences. The parking can accommodate just a few hundred cars at most next to a theatre that can host up to 1650 people. And also, there is no public transport that goes directly to the theatre.

"I mean there's not enough parking place. Basically, this 14th of April will be a rehearsal even for the parking places in surroundings. Which is much worse, at the moment, is the public transport was much better in the older theatres. So for these people it will be much more difficult to find their way to new theatre."

A problem that many fear is that the technical team has not been sufficiently trained to deal with the new digital equipment. They have to work at the old theatre their normal shifts and learn the new modern techniques for sound and light that the new building requires. Ballet dancer Andrej Szabo recognizes that there are technical difficulties.

"The biggest fear is that if whole technical stuff on the stage is gonna work. It's gonna take time to let it work normally everything. So, my biggest fear is if everything's gonna work perfect, one hundred percent on the premiere."

This week will feature many premieres in ballet and theatre to celebrate the opening of the new building.