History - Beginnings

In 1868, the year when the National Theatre in Belgrade was established, Serbia was populated with slightly more than one million and two hundred thousand people. Serbian education system at the time had 423 male and 54 female teachers, the female teachers taught in primary schools for girls. Belgrade had just over 25,000 inhabitants who lived in 3,444 houses. At the time, there was one public servant on 68 people, one teacher on 262 people, one medical doctor on 442 people and one lawyer on 1481 people. In 1860s, Belgrade was a big village, half way between Ottoman and European civilization. The town was inhabited by tradesmen, artisans, clerks, soldiers, farmers, workers and idle men. Houses, trades and fashion progressively adapted to western taste; cold snacks and champagne were introduced next to boza, halvah and sausages; kolo dance and polkas were danced at balls. Streets were narrow, windy, filthy and unlit; forty Belgrade blind streets were used as waste dumps; there was no sewerage and there was a lack of potable water. Nonetheless, there was a need for development of education, culture and science in a newly liberated country, as well as a striving to finish national liberation and uniting. Therefore, as early as in 1868, Belgrade which only made its first steps into progress, had an University (Grand School) with three schools; a grammar school and one school which was partly grammar; Girls’ High School; Association of Serbian Intellectuals; National Library; National Museum; National Reading-Room; First Association of Singers, State Printing Company; and there were 44 students abroad who were to take the leading role upon their return to the country…

Since 1842, there were several attempts to establish a standing professional theatre in Belgrade, those attempts failed from different reasons, but they introduced an idea that the country and its capital need a theatre. Therefore, the National Theatre in Belgrade was established in 1868. The first performance, Đurađ Branković by Karolj Obernjak, was given on 22nd November 1868, in an inn Kod engleske kraljice (At the English Queen’s), that served as a temporary base of our Theatre.

Written and organized by Jelica Stevanović
Texts written by Milica Jovanović, Aleksandar Radovanović, Mirjana Odavić were used