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Theaters’ history    EN


The earliest evidence regarding the foundation of a theatre in Varna dates back to the time of the Crimean War (1853-1856), when the French officers in the town set up their own amateur theater called The Mill (Moulin). The women’s roles in the enactments were played by soldiers with budding moustaches while the clothing was supplied from the wardrobes of the merchants’ wives. There was no lack of audience, as it was even “quite select” and spectators from the English camp were often in attendance, too[1].


Varna was throughout the second half of the 19th century a major stop in the itinerary of many professional Greek theater troupes coming from Athens. These “external” contributions to the theatrical life of the Greek community and the city were followed by successive (and incessant) amateur activities, usually supporting educational and philanthropic activity. The first local Greek amateur theater group in Varna called “Theatrikos Omilos” was active throughout the period 1860-1874. In just one year (1870-71) the group staged 9 plays (comedies and dramas) with varying success. In 1873, a Greek musical club (Mousikos Omilos) was also founded in Varna which had a theater section (with more than 20 actors). During the 1880s Greek plays were staged also in the Commercial Club of Varna. Greek theatrical life in Varna was particularly active in the 1890s and early 1900s with many plays yearly, staged by both incoming and local troupes.


The Bulgarian Club, established in January 1879, put up the first Bulgarian theater play in the town at that time. This was the drama ‘Stoyan Voyvoda’ played on February 10, 1879. In December 1880 the play ‘Ivanko, the murderer of Assenya’ was staged. Later on, a theater troupe was set up, attached to the town’s ‘Knizhevna druzhina’ [Literary Society], which was a successor of the Bulgarian Club. In 1885, ‘Knizhevna druzhina’ gave the first open-air theater play. The Concordia Hall was used for the indoor plays until it burned down in a fire in 1888. A new theater hall, called ‘Saedinenie’ [Unification], was built in the town in 1890.

In 1894, Stoyan Kozhuharov turned the existing theater troupe into a City Theater with two regular plays a week.

On August 1, 1895, a theater company named ‘Napredak’ [Progress] was established, consolidating the town’s amateur actors. The troupe was declared as attached to the Municipality and was therefore able to use the ‘Saedinenie’ Hall without paying a rent.

On Todor Strashimirov’s initiative a theater company called ‘Naroden teatar’ [People’s theater] was founded in Varna in 1909. Its chairman was Ivan Tserov, a mayor of the town at that time. The company existed until 1912.

Another theater troupe called ‘Zora’ [Dawn] settled in Varna in 1897. Its creator was the famous actress Roza Popova. Notwithstanding some interruptions, various theater formations set up by Roza Popova performed on the Varna stage until the end of 1912. During the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) the theatrical life in Varna came to a standstill[2].


[1] Allard, C. Souvenir d’Orient. La Bulgarie orientale. Paris, 1864.

[2] Дряновски, Б. Варна през 1878–1944 г. – История на Варна. Т. III, Изд. „Славена“, Варна, 2015.




Allard, C. Souvenir d’Orient. La Bulgarie orientale, Paris 1864.

Дряновски, Б. Варна през 1878–1944 г. – История на Варна. Т. III, Изд. „Славена“, Варна /под печат/.

Κοτζαγεώργη (επιμ.), Οι Έλληνες της Βουλγαρίας. Ένα ιστορικό τμήμα του περιφερειακού ελληνισμού, Θεσσαλονίκη: ΙΜΧA, 1999, σ. 397-405.