The 13th of November 2019 was a special day. On that day we celebrated out 65th birthday. In this building, we and our visitors have shared a wealth of amazing, fun and dramatic experiences over the years. Halmstad Theatre is a stage of the future, but its story starts with a history lesson.
Halmstad Theatre first opened its doors in 1954. Plans for a theatre building had long been in place, but had not yet been realised. Since 1866, the city’s theatre had been housed in Hotell Mårtensson on Storgatan, where travelling theatre companies performed.
In 1918, the City Council proposed an investigation to solve the growing city’s need for a larger theatre and concert hall. The politician Fritz Gyllensvärd, a theatre enthusiast and baker, was very committed to making this a reality. When he died in 1927, he left a donation of SEK 100,000 to Halmstad “to facilitate the construction of a theatre and to some extent secure its operation”.
Architects competed for the job
In the 1930s, an architectural competition was held for the design of a theatre building. Fifty proposals were submitted, and the winner (by 35 votes to 1) was the Gothenburg-based architect Sven Brolid. But before long World War II broke out, forcing construction to be postponed. When the war was over, the planning resumed. The state contributed SEK 242,000 from the Lottery Fund. A breakthrough for the construction of the theatre occurred when politicians proposed an investigation into whether the theatre building could be combined with a new Folkets Hus.
KFAI’s Gösta Hedström was hired as an architect, and he worked on the project for nine years. By the time the theatre opened in the autumn of 1954, it is estimated that approximately 300,000 working hours had been spent on the project. The total labour costs amounted to SEK 5.5 million.
Halmstad Theatre is richly adorned with art. The artists who contributed their works helped make the theatre a building of national interest. Today, many of them are famous. The theatre’s foyer features a large mural to which all the artists in the Halmstad Group contributed. It was created between 1953 and 1954. Because Halmstad Theatre is so richly adorned with art, we have assembled more information about our artworks and the artists behind them on a separate page. Read more about the art at Halmstad Theatre.
The theatre building’s exterior
The colossal concrete and brick facade of Halmstad Theatre faces Österbro Bridge and the city centre. 3,800 cubic metres of concrete and 20,000 sacks of cement were used for its construction. In addition, 250,000 bricks have been Folkets Hus section of the building.
During the inauguration, a journalist from Hallandsposten wrote “It has an exterior that impresses thanks to its clean surfaces. The Functionalist style in which the architects worked has created a sense of festivitas without ostentation, and monumentality without overbearingness. Anyone who takes the time to look more closely will discover how small, seemingly insignificant details complete the whole.”
Even at the time, the theatre’s unique style was recognised and the building quickly became famous all over the country, not least because it housed the largest theatre in the country.
*) festive atmosphere, festive joy, festive radiance, splendour, pomp, circumstance, solemnity
The theatre building’s interior
Teatersalongen is accessed through a spacious entrance via an upper floor that is also equipped with a cloakroom and refreshments stand. There was room for 756 people in the parquet circle, and the balcony could accommodate another 191. There were thus a total of 947 spectator seats – all according to the original drawings.
The theatre building also housed a restaurant that often served as a venue for jazz concerts. Once a cinema, Figarosalen is a “building within the building”. This was partly for security reasons, but the design also meant that the cinema could conduct its business without interfering with performances in Stora Salongen (the main auditorium).
At the November 1954 premiere, August Strindberg’s “The Dance of Death” was directed by Karin Kavli and featured several well-known actors: Karin Kavli herself, Kolbjörn Knudsen, Erland Josephsson, Mona Dan-Bergman and Alica Florin. The performance was given ample coverage in the local press – where it was touted as one of Strindberg’s greatest works.
Film from the Swedish Film Institute and SVT International
The present day
In 2010, the stage area underwent a major renovation. During that time, the theatre stood empty for 15 months. In the summer of 2012, Stora Salongen’s audience seats were replaced. In late autumn 2019, a renovation of the lower foyer began, as Halmstad Tourist Centre was set to move into the theatre in the spring of 2020. The rest of the Destination Halmstad company also moved into the property. During 2020 and 2021, the loges and green rooms will also be refurbished. An exciting future awaits our theatre building, which is now a listed historical monument.