DISK theatre was established on 19 September 1945. The first season 1945–1946 was exceptionally successful both artistically and commercially, opening with Nasreddin and following up with nine (!) other premieres. It paved the way for founding the theatre division (later theatre faculty) of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. Although its foundation was enacted in October 1945, the school did not begin operations until the following academic year 1946–1947 when DISK was also firmly incorporated into the new school’s structure.
The theatre division (later faculty) offered courses in directing, dramaturgy, and stage design. Acting remained part of the state conservatory and acting students presented their work at DISK. This way, the theatre studio was the last link between the slowly diminishing “high school” for actors and the newly established theatre faculty. After 1948, on students’ and some pedagogues’ initiative, the faculty adopted the acting course.
The link between the conservatory’s theatre division and DISK remained for two years after DAMU’s establishment and it is here that the name “DISK” comes from – Divadlo státní konzervatoře (Theatre of the State Conservatory).
Until early 90s DISK was located in the Unitaria Palace at Karlova 8 in Old Town (today’s Ta Fantastika theatre). Political and economic changes in Czechoslovakia during that time led to relocating DISK from the Unitaria Palace. In 1993 the theatre faculty was forced to leave the building in Karlova street and so the school lost its theatre and students lost a place to present their first creative work.
After that, the Kašpar ensemble invited final year students to host their shows at Celetná theatre. However, this space could not fully replace DISK because it had to be shared with ensemble CD 94.
Miloš Horanský, DAMU’s Dean at the time, repeatedly tried to find an adequate alternative for the school’s theatre, searching between existing stages in Prague and out-of-operation cinemas. However, none of them satisfied DISK’s requirements or was available for use. Another alternative was for student performances to move between multiple Prague theatres. Finally, DAMU decided to build a new DISK theatre and so the “SOS DAMU” project began.
The space was designed by SIAL architects from Liberec, in particular by Ing. Arch. Jiří Hakulín and Doc. Arch. Karel Hubáček, the only Czech Perret Prize laureate and author of the famous Ještěd television tower, Husa na provázku Theatre in Brno, the restored Ypsilon Theatre or Malé divadlo in Liberec.
Multiple bodies financed DISK’s construction: Ministry of Education, AMU’s restoration fund, and many medium and small donors from the public. Due to many complications the construction could not be completed by the originally planned date of 30 September 1997. Work had to first be postponed due to heritage protection and archaeology research, then due to complications with the surrounding buildings’ statics. As a result, the construction was delayed by over a year and finally completed in December 1998. The theatre is built directly in the faculty’s courtyard, between Řetězová and Karlova street. Its design is modern and non-traditional, intended as an open space where the relationship between the stage and the audience can vary depending on the creative concept.
DISK was officially moved from Celetná theatre back to Karlova on 18 February 1999, but this time to no. 26. It launched its repertory with the premiere of Friedrich Schiller’s Mary Stuart. Since then many and many years of students have stood on the stage and performed a plethora of successful shows, under the supervision of their pedagogues. For many young actors DISK is often the first big opportunity to perform before they go on to shine at one of the country’s most prominent theatres.
You can read more about the buildings history here.