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The Csokonai Theater Seating Capacity Nearly Doubles

Mayor of Debrecen László Papp held a press conference about the renovation of the Csokonai Theatre on the 25th of January, 2023.

In Debrecen, the topic of the preservation and protection of cultural values for the future has been discussed many times. If there is a real investment in preserving values, it is safe to say that it is the renovation of the Csokonai Theatre, one of the emblematic buildings of Debrecen. 

Prior to the full renovation, which started in September 2020, the building had been modernized on a larger scale in the early 1980s, the mayor said, adding that the scale of the renovation that is now being carried out has not been done since the building was completed.

A few months after the handover of the work site, the contractor demolished the building down to the structure, and they went down to the bricks, six and a half meters deep, he said, stressing that the renovation is a very important element of conservation, and the works were carried out under the supervision of the monument.

According to László Papp, the theatre will be completely restored to its original plans and old style. The most different part compared to the previous state is the arrival area. “When you arrive at the theatre, you are now greeted by a spacious colonnade and a beautiful, bright and elegant space, whereas before, you had a very high, steep staircase to enter the Csokonai Theatre,” he said. 

Speaking about the changes, he said that the auditorium has also been transformed in terms of capacity, as the theatre’s capacity has almost doubled. The theatre’s capacity has increased from 350 seats to more than 600 people. 

The Csokonai Theatre and the Csokonai Fórum together offer a very significant scope in terms of the number of performances and capacity, he said, adding that the performances are not only for the people of Debrecen but also for the theatre-loving citizens of the region.

“The Csokonai Theatre is 90 percent ready. The upstage and downstage installations are 98 percent complete, the stage equipment is being installed, some of the seats in the auditorium have arrived, and some have been purchased. The balconies are not yet in place but are being installed,” the mayor said, adding that the interior has been covered and painted, while the final painting is still to be done in some places, but will be completed before the end of the season. Mechanical and electrical works are also nearing completion, and the renovation work on the façade has been completed, while landscaping and landscaping work has also been completed.

“We are going through a very difficult period, as the pandemic has made it impossible to hold performances for a long time, not only in Debrecen but in many places in the country and the world, but we have used this period to partly complete the theatre development works. This period of cultural hardship is coming to an end. On the one hand, we inaugurated the wonderful new building of the Csokonai Fórum last August;  on the other hand, this building will be open to the public in the first half of the year,” László Papp said.

Péter Gemza, Director of the Csokonai Theatre, said that the Csokonai Theatre building was also built with the technology and equipment required by the theatre profession, similar to Csokonai Fórum.

He noted that the concept of expanding the company for the two theatres has also been developed, primarily to increase the number of technical staff, in three stages, with a total of forty new recruits.

“We have been playing to a full house at the Csokonai Fórum for six months, so there is a demand for the theatre in Debrecen,” the theatre director said.

Finally, he said that there is a vacuum in the opera, operetta, and musical genres and hopes that by reviving old opera productions, opera life will be revived in the city.

The modernization, funded by the Government under the Modern Cities Programme, costs more than HUF 9.6 billion.