The Stary Theatre was founded in 1781. It is one of the oldest professional theatres in Poland and has played a key role in the development of Polish culture. The history of the modern Stary Theatre (Old Theatre) goes back to 1945 and the success in the immediate post-war years in creating a collective sense of responsibility for the theatre's artistic achievements. This tradition of high-level artistic performance was supported by the skill of a succession of directors in building both an outstanding theatre company and a carefully designed repertoire.
Under Mikołaj Grabowski, artistic director since September 2002 (and managing director since 2004), the Stary Theatre has established a dual focus. Firstly, an emphasis on contemporary drama, an interest reflected in the baz@rt festival, which was dedicated to French and German language theatre in 2004 and 2005; and secondly, the reinterpretation of the classics, as evident in the Re-wizje (Re-Vision) festival, which showcased Polish Romanticism in 2005 and Antiquity in 2007.
The Stary Theatre regularly initiates cooperations between directors or theatres from Poland and abroad – as, for example, in the Polish-German co-production of Andrzej Stasiuk’s “Night” (staged with the Düsseldorf Schauspielhaus).
Through workshops, conferences, videos, exhibitions, installations and meetings with guest artists, the theatre also seeks to provide a forum for a new generation of directors and playwrights.
The Stary Theatre has a total of four stages. The main building at ul. Jagiellonska 1 comprises the main stage, the Modrzejewska Stage, and the new stage, while the small stage is at ul. Starowiślna 21. The main building also houses the Theatre Museum, which organises exhibitions on leading actors and educational programmes (drama lessons, workshops, videos).
Since 1994, the Stary Theatre has been a member of the Union of European Theatres, an organisation of the top theatre companies in Europe.