Christiania Theatre

Organisation typePrivate theatre
Main focusTheatre
EstablishedAug, 1837 (closed 15 Jun. 1899)

About Christiania Theatre

Christiania Theatre (1837 - 1899) was a theatre in Oslo, opened at Bankplassen near Akershus Fortress in 1837. Originally the enterprise was Danish, but in time, it functioned as a kind of national theatre until The National Theatre opened in 1899.

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More about Christiania Theatre

Christiania Theatre was established in 1827 by Johan Peter Strömberg. It was re-established after a fire in 1835, with a building of its own at Bankplassen near Akershus Fortress and the opening performance took place October 4 1837 with Andreas Munch's play The Youth of King Sverre AKA King Sverre's Youth. All of the involved actors were Danish, but the content was National Romantic. The language used in theatre in Norway had already been a conflict issue for some while, and was part of the cultural-political conflict between Wergeland and Welhaven, in which Wergeland worked for Norwegian actors and Norwegian language used at Norwegian stages.

Eventually, as the theatre was more established, an increasing number of Norwegian actors entered the staff. Among them were Johannes Brun and Laura Gundersen.

In January 1838 the theatre staged Wergeland's play The Campbells. The opening went politely on, but at the next performance Norway's first real theatre battle took place. It started with booing, and ended with fighting inside and outside of the theatre. The booing had been organised by the editors in the conservative newspaper Den Constitutionelle, edited by people close to Welhaven. But reportedly Welhaven had nothing to do with the initiative, and he was not present. Wergeland's person and writing were attacked. But the Wergeland supporters won out.

The next great theatre battle took place in 1856, and at the time Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson was the central character. Now the issue was the battle for Norwegian actors. The theatre management had promised not to hire any more Danish actors, but the promise was broken, and met with booing. There was another disturbance in 1873 when the Swede Ludvig Josephson became the director of the theatre, as foreigners were unwanted. At this occasion, too, Bjørnson is supposed to have been among the organisers of the booing and demonstrations. But Josephson became who in 1876 staged Peer Gynt for the very first time, and he made it a great success, after others had meant it was impossible to stage.

While the theatre was still performing Peer Gynt, January 15 1877, a fire broke out, and the decorations for the play were ruined. The damages after the fire were swiftly repaired, and Christiania Theatre kept functioning as a kind of national theatre until today's The National Theatre was built and opened September 1 1899.

The Christiania Theatre building was then demolished to give room for the building of Norges Bank, the central bank of Norway. The Museum of Contemporary Art is now located in the building.


Wikipedia,, 07.12.2011,