Today we celebrate the International Theater Day and reveal the history of the Plovdiv scene


If we look back over the centuries, the first theatrical performance for which there is evidence was held 2500 BC in Egypt based on religious plays related to Osiris and Isis. But it was the ancient Greeks who turned theater into art and subsequently set the standards of tragedy, comedy and satire.

Over the years, the theater has developed in various directions. For example, in the Middle Ages, traveling troupes appeared, performing various folk rites in the squares. They consisted mainly of singers, actors, jokers and jugglers, and were called differently in different countries. At that time, the first attempts at secular drama were made and new genres appeared, such as miracle, mystery, interlude.

During the Renaissance, art continued to develop on the basis of some medieval theatrical traditions, such as the mystery, but this was also the beginning of comedy - first in Italy, and gradually it conquered the squares in France.

But the real change in theatrical art did not occur until the 16th century during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, who in 1572 created professional companies with professional actors by law and raised the quality of the theater.

In Bulgaria, the first data on theatrical events was related to the community centers, which were the main center of spiritual and social life of the country in the middle of the XIX century. The first theatrical production was presented in Shumen on August 15, 1856, but the first theatrical group was formed in Plovdiv 25 years later - in 1881 at the suggestion of Konstantin Velichkov. Its inspirer is the patriarch of Bulgarian literature Ivan Vazov, and its birthday is considered to be December 11. A few months before that - in March - a special building for theatrical performances was completed in the Plovdiv hotel Luxembourg. It was furnished resembling medieval theaters, had 300 seats on the ground floor and 17 boxes with 64 seats, in front of which there were marble busts of 17 classical writers - Euripides, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Corneille, Racine, Goethe, Schiller and others. There were dressing rooms for the artists and a wardrobe for the audience. It was again at the foot of Sahat Tepe, but closer to Dzhumaya Square. The first performances were performed there, and they gave grounds for the Plovdiv public to demand the establishment of the theater in the city of the seven hills.

The current theater hall was originally located next to the Metropol Hotel, but later it underwent several renovations to get the look we are used to now, because after the Second World War it became clear that the place was too small for the culture-hungry audience. Since 1955, three cultural institutions have coexisted in one building for almost two decades - the Opera, the Philharmonic and the Drama Theater. In the period 1983-1988 a complete renovation of the building was made and then the construction of the Chamber Hall began - opened 20 years later.

The troupe of the Plovdiv Drama Theater is one of the best in the whole country, and the theater scholar and literary critic Prof. D. B. Mitov emotionally summarized Plovdiv's contribution to the history of Bulgarian theater: "In Bulgaria, theatrical life began with brilliance. Plovdiv created the Bulgarian theater and sent it to the capital with boundless self-renunciation.”

The date March 27 was chosen in 1961 at the IX Congress of the International Theater Institute at UNESCO and is associated with the opening of the season of the Theater of Nations in Paris in 1962. Usually this day is celebrated with a number of cultural events, but given the pandemic this year we will once again be able to celebrate this holiday of culture and art only through virtual stories.