The theatre was founded in 1929 by Emmanuel Maceska as the largest and most modern cinema in Prague.
Today, The Royal Theatre is an iconic and exclusive multipurpose cultural venue located in the centre of Prague showing theatre plays, movies, concerts, art exhibitions etc.
Jean-Christophe Gramont and Veronika Gramont
Much of the original fittings and furnishings including stained glass windows and elaborate lighting remain unchanged today, making a trip to the theatre a little bit like traveling back in time – all the way back to the glory days of the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918 - 1938)
In January 2014, the Maceska family who owns the building agreed to rent the theatre to Frenchman, Jean-Christophe Gramont.
One of Jean-Christophe’s first decisions was swap the name Illusion for Royal – thus helping convey the regal status of the district which is inextricably tied to the era of Charles IV and the famous Royal Vineyards he cultivated here. He also hopes the title will depict the elegant look and style the theatre was so famed for in the past.
Jean- Christophe Gramont , Director was born in France, is an entrepreneur and has been living in Prague since 2003. He spent considerable time looking for a space to dedicate to the arts, especially iconic movies and music . When he stumbled across the then Illusion theatre, it was like love at first sight; he knew there and then that he’d finally found his dream venue.
Just a few months later and the theatre was ready to open its doors to the public and the result is well worth the wait.
Renata Slamkova, designer
To recapture the spirit and grandeur of the 1930s cultural scene, Jean Christophe hired the young and talented Prague-based designer, Renata Slámková. The decor and furniture tastefully selected by her, draw inspiration from the much exalted Czechoslovak First Republic (1918-1938) as well as Art Deco and Baroque blending these with a twist of modernity and incorporating all the necessary home comforts of the 21st century.
Renata is an accomplished local designer with experience spanning a range of cultural projects. Her academic background in Painting and Scenography (the Institute of Applied Arts in Zlín and subsequently the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno (JAMU) provided her with skills which she later honed in projects ranging from theatre sets, exhibitions, interiors and graphic design.
To date she has designed over thirty theatre productions in the Czech Republic and abroad, while she has also collaborated on a variety of exhibitions in Prague, Brno and Vienna. In 2003 she was awarded the JAMU Chancellor scholarship for her design at the Prague Quadrennial while she is also a Board member of the Emmy Destinn Foundation in London. She has been working at Jan Albrecht Architect’s studio since 2009.
In 1929 , The cinema was called Maceška in honour of its owner, however was later changed to Illusion. It didn’t take long after opening for the venue to become hugely popular among Praguers, leading to audiences frequently being turned away due to sell-out showings.
The outbreak of the Second World War changed all of this however. First came bombardments, then a communist regime; the latter determining the theatre’s fate for some time to come. Following the Beneš decrees issued at the end of the occupation, the theatre was confiscated and handed over to the Film State Company stripping Mr Maceška of all his property rights.
After the Velvet Revolution, ownership was restored to the Maceška family and remains so today.
Fortunately despite falling victim to the ruthless hand of the communist regime, a number of the charming fittings and furnishings have remained untouched over the years. Ranging from the unique balconies boasting exceptional stuccos, beautiful 1920s woodwork, columns bedecked in fine veneer to incredible marble detail on the stairs, there is so much on which to fix your gaze here that it’s hard to choose what merits your attention the most. Certain other areas including the bar had unfortunately lost their original flair over the years, but as the new management, we see it as our duty to do our utmost to restore the theatre’s former appeal. We’re committed to give this unique venue the face-lift it deserves while also to ensure that each customer leaves with a memory to cherish for a long time to come. Some of the changes we have already made include selecting original Czech Thun porcelain (founded in Karlovy Vary in 1794) for our café. In terms of the furniture, on discovering it wasn’t feasible to restore to the original armchairs, we decided to commission a traditional Czech furniture company to design and handcraft red velvet armchairs, boasting all the comforts we rely on today, yet evoking the charm and ambience of an old theatre. We’re delighted to have been given the opportunity to breathe new life into this emblematic space – the ROYAL.
The ROYAL is open since June 2014 as a multifunctional cultural venue to hold theatre performances, ballet, movies, conferences concerts, cabaret shows and much more.