The story of the Theatre Thália Színhás resembles a lot a story of a man living in Carpathian valley who has never left his birthplace during his life, even though he could live in seven different countries at that time. From its foundation the Theatre Thália Színhás has known three forms of government in two different countries: The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1969-1990), Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (1990-1992) and finally Slovak Republic (1993-). Košice has also undergone big changes in the last decades. The number of inhabitants has increased very fast, the number of Hungarian inhabitants has changed a lot, too. According to the 2011 census, only 2,8% of the inhabitants of the second biggest city of Slovakia declared themselves Hungarians.
The theatre was founded not only like a stone theatre in Košice but also like a touring theatre – so that it could have opportunities to develop its activities in the whole territory of Slovakia and also in the north-eastern part of Hungary which has become its natural and important place to perform. With time, this decision has been strategically proved as a good choice and even essential to life.
The story of the Theatre resembles also a story of a girl from folk literature whose task was to bring something and not to bring and to be and not to be. It wasn’t the role of the Theatre but it was dictated by cultural politics and society: it performed in Košice and at the same time it didn´t, it was a professional stone theatre and at the same time it wasn’t. It was independent but it didn´t have its own autonomy. It had its sister’s theatre but it wasn’t always positive nor clear. And although the Theatre was founded in 1969, it became independent in 1990. So after 21 years of existence, the institution could change the name from the „scene“ to the „theatre”. Even though the simple reason of foundation of the Theatre Thalia according to director Sandor Beke was that “the city where the trams run is able to support also the theatre.“, today the Theatre is well known for the touring theatre which travels and performs in smaller and also bigger towns and villages.
The political party‘s decision from 1959 suggested creating a new Hungarian regional theatre in Rožňava, the second one after Matesze (Hungarian regional theatre) in Komárno. 10 years later the Theatre Vox Humana was founded, but officially this name couldn’t be used – not even just for a while.
Vox humana is first of all a short-resonator reed stop on the pipe organ, named like this because of its supposed resemblance to human voice. The inspiration for the name of the Theatre can be found in the thoughts of the „Scottish hermit“ Zoltán Fábry, a writer, critic, who considered to resound the human voice, the human thought the most important in every situation. In 1969 the term human voice reminded the programme of the leader of the Prague Spring from 1968, Slovak politician Alexander Dubček „Socialism with a human face“ and the result of this similarity was an immediate prohibition of the use of this term. It was very necessary to quickly find another name for the Theatre . And it was found in Košice, in the acropolis of the Hungarian theatre from the foundation of the first theatre association using the Hungarian language in 1816. It was called Thalia, the Greek Muse of comedy. However, the institution was called the scene Thália, its logo still represents the main idea of Vox Humana. This idea has served as an inspiration for sculptor János Nagy who has created his traditional crying and smiling masks which are used by keeping one hand next to the mouth and then speaking, singing, shouting and reporting.
The first director of the Scene Thália was Sándor Beke, the first dramaturgist Sándor Gál. One part of the association was created by the progressive part of the Matesz from Komárno: Ferenc Lengyel, Ilona Gombos, Béla Várady, Mihály Gyurkovics, Zsuzsa Varga, László Csendes. Mária Kövesdi Szabó, Jolán Tamás, Eszter Bittó, György Érsek, Lajos Horváth joined the theatre from a selective procedure. The first premiere was comedy The Servant of Two Masters which was played on 29th November in 1969 at the cultural house in Gemerská Hôrka as the residence of the Theatre in Košice wasn’t ready. The creation of the space for the Theatre began at the big hall of Košice’s legendary Secondary Technical School of Jozef Szakkay which was used as a gym before. Most parts of the building works and reconstruction were done by the theatre ensemble’s members and colleagues with their own hands. The Theater in Košice arose from the school gym with a strong flow of enthusiasm and vision.
Except for years between 1900-2011, the Theatre Thália Színhás in Košice was led by Peter Kolár who is also responsible for the act of independence of the theatre. During the period between 1996-1999, during the government of Mečiar, the director of the theatre was Tibor Fabó. In 1993 the theatre bought the building where the Márai studio opened in 1994. The reconstruction of the building was held between 1994-2002. The big theatre hall with the capacity of 200 seats isn’t till this day in the ownership of the Theatre but it belongs to the Košice self-governing region. Management, economic department and a theatre hall with 100 seats are in a second building owned by the Theatre. Since 2011 the Theatre Thália Színhás has been led by a producer József Czajlik.
Košice is the city of business, of cultural colourfulness, of the famous Košice’s bourgeois, Márai. It is also known as Berlin of Slovakia and it was the European capital of culture in 2013. And last, but not least, Košice represents theatre city pulsing with life. On 15th februry 1833 there was a premiere of the performance Bánk bán of Józef Katon where Róza Széppataki Déryné, Kántorné, Megyeri, Gábor Egressy, Béni Egressy and other famous actors of the theatre were presented. Košice theatre was influenced by Endre Latabár and by the dynasty of Latabár. Also Odon Faragó and his ensemble had an important impact.
The Theatre Thália Színhás in Košice is a national theatre but besides the Hungarian audience of Slovakia, it wants to invite every lover of the theatre, critic, theatre-goer searching for fun, spiritual or aesthetic adventures on both sides of the border. Nowadays, it is the northernmost Hungarian theatre..