Montenegrin National theatre is the most important institution of culture in Podgorica, fulfilling several purposes and offering a variety of programs. With its institutional profile and the programming, Montenegrin National Theatre is recognizable not only on the cultural map of Podgorica and Montenegro, but also in the region and internationally. The insistence on high quality programs and production values, as well as the specific programming make Montenegrin National Theatre’s uniqueness recognizable beyond local and regional levels.
Brief history of the Montenegrin National Theatre
The Montenegrin National Theatre was founded in 1953 as a municipal institution called the Titograd Town Theatre. The idea was to establish a strong institution that would function as a national theatre. From 1958 it became central to the theatrical scene of Montenegro after the decision to transform the town theatres of Nikšić, Kotor, Cetinje and Pljevlja into semi-professional ensembles. Even though the Montenegrin National Theatre had all the attributes of a national theatre, it was granted that official status only in 1969.
From the very start, the Montenegrin National Theatre attracted the majority of established actors in Montenegro. This new ensemble, instituted as the nation’s only professional theatre and with an obligation to promote national drama, faced the challenge of mounting a high-quality repertory company to tour the whole of Montenegro.
The National Theatre's first foray outside of the republic was its production of Njegoš’s “Gorski vijenac” (Mountain Wreath), adapted and directed by N. Vavić. This production premiered in December 1960 in Zagreb and was performed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Croatian National Theatre.
The mid Seventies was the start of a significant era when Vlado Popović, a celebrated dramatic artist and theatre manager, became the director of the Montenegrin National Theatre. He promoted the idea of a theatre free from the “rigid grip of institutionalism”. During this time many successful shows were produced, attracting significant interest from both audiences and critics.
The Eighties were characterised by the national theatre’s search for its identity, with only occasional success. Its building burned down in 1989, thus rendering the Montenegrin National Theatre without basic function for several years.
After starting in a newly refurbished building in 1997, Montenegrin National Theatre reaffirmed its importance. A new concept of this theatrical institution’s development was successfully launched by a new management and artistic team especially thanks to the efforts of professor and theatre director Branislav Mićunović. Within only a few seasons, the revived Theatre produced numerous successful shows in collaboration with guest actors, directors and artists from abroad, mostly from the countries of former Yugoslavia. Its projects also included work of the best young graduates from the Faculty of Drama in Cetinje.
The period between 1997, when the Theatre’s new home was opened, and 2007 was a time of revival and progress, with over 40 new productions. Several new festivals were launched, including: European Theatre Projects, Festival of National Theatres, New European Theatre Action, Festival of Montenegrin Theatre and the music festival A Tempo. The Montenegrin National Theatre’s activities at this time were part of the process of a new opening of Montenegro to the world. The Theatre worked as the animator and ambassador of culture, as a hub of artistic events and as a promoter of current trends in international theatre.
The mission of the Montenegrin National Theatre is promotion, production and staging of drama from Montenegrin and world’s cultural heritage, with special interest for contemporary drama, as well as other musical and performing arts pieces of special artistic value.