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Lyceum Theatre

  • The new Lyceum Theatre was designed in an eclectic style by British architects Davies & Brooke and opened on 5 February 1931.
  • Building
  • Lyceum Theatre

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  • Davies & Brooke, Civil Engineers and Architects
  • 1931
  • 101 Route Cardinal Mercier, French Concession (now Maoming Nan Lu, corner of Changle Lu, Huangpu Qu) Shanghai

  • The new Lyceum Theatre was designed in an eclectic style by British architects Davies & Brooke and opened on 5 February 1931.

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  • Western theatrical performances in Shanghai can first be identified in May 1853. The English Amateur Dramatic Club of Shanghai (ADC) was founded in 1866 and started performing in the New Lyceum Theatre a year later. After the building burned down in 1871, a new building called the Lyceum was opened in 1874, its construction made possible by some “wealthy Englishmen”. By the end of the 1920s, the building had developed structural problems and the trustees decided to build a new theatre in the French Concession, opposite the high-rise Cathay Mansion, which was under construction. The new Lyceum Theatre was designed in an eclectic style by British architects Davies & Brooke and opened on 5 February 1931.

    The Deutsche Theater-Verein (DTV – in English, German Amateur Dramatic Club, or German ADC), was full of praise for the performance of their English colleagues and looked forward to using the theatre in a guest capacity in the future. In fact, the German ADC performed almost all of its performances at the Lyceum Theatre until the mid-1940s. It has been called the only western theatre stage in Shanghai. While productions were also staged in cinemas, the lack of dressing rooms and other facilities complicated the actors’ work.

    From 1929 to 1933 the German craftsman Horst zum Eschenhoff designed the stage sets for the German ADC. From 1931 he was also employed as a designer at the interior design company The Modern Home (TMH), founded by Rudolf Hamburger. With the restructuring of TMH in October 1933, Eschenhoff left the company and then stopped working as a stage designer. Richard Paulick, who had also worked for TMH from 1933, started his own business, Modern Homes, with his brother Rudolf in 1936. From this date until Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, Paulick designed the sets for the German ADC at the Lyceum Theatre.

    When a large number of Jewish refugees reached Shanghai in 1939, they too organised theatre performances, performing for the most part in school halls and cinemas, because the stage at the Lyceum was too expensive. Very active in this context was Alfred Dreifuß, who was involved in founding the European Jewish Artists Society (EJAS), which brought a number of actors together. Others like Boris Sapiro went into business for themselves, providing their own stages. The difficulty for everyone was to find scripts in German. It is therefore not surprising that many of the plays staged by the theatre in exile had previously been performed at the German ACD. Paulick, who had good German contacts, was probably able to help. Dreifuß was the first to assist a British director at the Lyceum Theatre, with the direction of Lilac Times (Das Dreimäderlhaus). The first exile director to stage Delila, a play by Franz Molnar, at the Lyceum was Fritz Melchior, in 1941. The play sold out and attracted exiles, Chinese and other foreigners. As for many other performances at the exile theatre, Paulick designed the stage sets. A week later, the War in the Pacific began and theatrical performances were severely restricted.

    After the war Paulick became a member of the British Amateur Dramatic Club and, until his departure from Shanghai at the end of 1949, designed some highly acclaimed stage sets, such as for The Play’s the Thing by Franz Molnar, Volpone by Ben Johnson, The Grand National Night by Campbell and Dorothy Christie and others. All of these plays were performed at the Lyceum Theatre. Richard Paulick also set standards for stage set design during his 17 years in exile in Shanghai. The Lyceum Theatre was renovated in 2020 and is once again used for live performances.

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  • Lyceum Theatre, facade, photography (© Eduard Kögel 2004). The Lyceum Theatre was designed by the British architects Davies & Brooke in 1931.
  • Lyceum Theatre, foyer, photography (© Eduard Kögel 2004).
    Horst zum Eschenhoff, Stage design for the play Arm wie eine Kirchenmaus, photography, Bühnenspiegel im Fernen Osten, 30 October 1929.
    Advertisement for the play Parkstr. 13,Bühnenspiegel im Fernen Osten, 22 March 1939. The stage design was made by Richard Paulick.
    Richard Paulick, Stage design for the British Amateur Dramatic Club around the late 1940s, photography (© Architekturmuseum der TU Munich, Estate Richard Paulick).
  • Bühnenspiegel im Fernen Osten. Shanghai 1925–1943.
    Mittenzwei, Werner et al (editors). Exil in den USA – mit einem Bericht „Schanghai“ – Eine Emigration am Rande. Röderberg-Verlag, 1980.
    Kögel, Eduard. "Paulick als Bühnenbildner." Bauhaus, Shanghai, Stalinallee, Ha-Neu. Der Lebensweg des Architekten Richard Paulick, edited by Thomas Flierl, Lukas Verlag, 2020, pp. 140–145.

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  • Eduard Kögel
  • Shanghai
  • No
  • Eduard Kögel. "Lyceum Theatre." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Alexander A. Yaron

    An autodidact and a versatile commercial artist, Alexander Yaron applied his talent in portraiture, photography, interior design, advertising, layout and illustration. His best known projects were illustrated art magazines and books produced as part of Adcraft Studios, in tandem with Ivan Kounin.

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    Vasily Zasipkin

    Vasily Zasipkin was a prolific artist and and influential teacher, much loved in the diaspora. Having lost his studio and all his work in wartime Shanghai, he started over in Singapore.

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    Leonid Skvirsky

    Leonid Skvirsky was one of the most successful photographic artists in Shanghai. His experimental take on lighting and staging of the models ensured him critical acclaim, awards in international competitions and patronage of the elites.

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    Modern Homes
    Architecture and Furniture Company

    The three firms The Modern Home, Modern Home and Modern Homes existed from 1931 until 1950. Run by the Paulick brothers together with the Jewish emigrant Luedecke, the firms provided work for many emigrants.

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    Richard Paulick

    After studying with Hans Poelzig, Richard Paulick worked in Walter Gropius’s office and frequented the Bauhaus in Dessau before emigrating to Shanghai in 1933. After his return, he became an influential planner and architect in the GDR, from 1950 until his retirement

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