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Lyceum Theatre

  • Kind of Object:
    Building
  • Name:

    Lyceum Theatre

    Word Count: 2

  • Creator (Organisation):
    Davies & Brooke, Civil Engineers and Architects
  • Year End:
    1931
  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    101 Route Cardinal Mercier, French Concession (now Maoming Nan Lu, corner of Changle Lu, Huangpu Qu) Shanghai

  • Introduction:

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

    Word Count: 20

  • Content:

    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.

    Word Count: 589

  • Signature Image:
    Lyceum Theatre, facade, photography (© Eduard Kögel 2004). The Lyceum Theatre was designed by the British architects Davies & Brooke in 1931.
  • Media:
    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).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    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.

    Word Count: 49

  • Author:
    Eduard Kögel
  • Metropolis:
    Shanghai
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Eduard Kögel. "Lyceum Theatre." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/2952/object/5140-11304825, last modified: 14-09-2021.
  • Alexander A. Yaron
    DesignerJournalistArtistPhotographer

    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.

    Word Count: 42

    Kounin, Ivan, and Alexander Yaron, editors. The Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Shanghai, 1940. Portrait of Alexander A. Yaron, photography.
    Alexander Yaron, Along the ancient channel, print, Ponedelnik (Monday),1933 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Alexander Yaron, portraits, drawings, Highlights of Art, 1938 (© Natalia Kounin).Alexander Yaron, poster for the Russian Ballet, 1936 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. The double page shows the covers of Adcraft Studios’ magazines, including Highlights of Art, and others.Yaron Studios, advertisement for Central Air Transport Corporation, China Weekly Review, 20 September 1947.
    Shanghai
    Vasily Zasipkin
    ArtistDesigner

    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.

    Word Count: 31

    Vladimir Tretchikoff, Portrait of Zasipkin, Projector, 5 May 1934. Vladimir Tretchikoff was a student of Zasipkin.
    Vasily Zasipkin, Study, Ponedelnik (Monday), around 1930.Advertisement for V. A. Zasipkin’s Art Studio at 542 Avenue Joffre, Parus, 1937.Vasily Zasipkin, interior design for Cathay Café, drawing, Singapore, The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 8 December 1939.
    Shanghai
    Leonid Skvirsky
    PhotographerIllustrator

    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.

    Word Count: 35

    Vladimir Zhiganov. Russkie v Shanghai (Russians in Shanghai), Shanghai 1936. Sam Sanzetti, Portrait of Leonid Skvirsky at work, photography.
    Victor Sassoon (with a camera), Leonid Skvirsky and model Lulah Thompson, in Skvirsky’s studio, 23 January 1935 (© DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University).Sam Sanzetti and Leonid Skvirsky, portraits of Shanghai society women, Shanghai Sunday Times, 19 February 1935.Stamp of Skvirsky Studio (© author’s collection).
    Shanghai
    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.

    Word Count: 32

    Rudolf Hamburger, interior decoration for The Modern Home, photography (© Hamburger family).
    Advertisement, The Modern Home, 1931.Modern Homes, letterhead, around the late 1940s (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).Modern Homes, Tango Bar, interior, photography (© Architekturmuseum der TU Munich, Estate Richard Paulick).Modern Homes, interior, photography, around 1941, pauli-22-1002 (© Architekturmuseum der TU Munich, Estate Richard Paulick). The landscape painting was made by the Austrian artist Friedrich Schiff.
    Shanghai
    Richard Paulick
    ArchitectDesigner

    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

    Word Count: 41

    Richard Paulick on board ship, en route to exile, photography, 1933. (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).Richard Paulick on a weekend boat trip around Shanghai, photography (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).Richard Paulick sketches in the landscape, photography (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).Richard Paulick (with a pipe) in his office. His brother Rudolf is standing in front of the plan cupboard, photography (© private archive, courtesy of Natascha Paulick).Ye Qianyu, cover print, The Second-class Rail Carriage, Modern Sketch, July 1935.
    Shanghai