The past of professional drama theater in Žilina is quite complicated. It seems that the theater existed here more out of an external will than out of an internal need. As a result of the post-February euphoria of 1948, professional theaters began to be established in Slovakia, because theater was considered an excellent political and social tool for spreading socialist ideology. In 1949, the Central Slovak Theater in Zvolen was established, today the Jozef Gregor Tajovský Theater, the Regional Theater in Nitra, today the Andrej Bagar Theater, and the Professionals of Theatrical Amateurs and theater organizers as well as the Workers' Theater. As the city of Žilina gradually became a city of greater administrative, economic and industrial importance and had a wider social background and the audience, even a building more suitable for the operation of a professional theater than the city of Považská Bystrica, the Považská Bystrica Workers relocated to Žilina in the 1950/1951 season. renamed the Regional Theater of Workers.
After a period of dictated and controlled dramaturgical uniformity, which marked all theaters established after 1948, artistically remarkable, more poetic productions by the director and artistic director of the theater, Jozef Palka, also appear in the Žilina theater. As the thyrologist Ján Jaborník states in a study of Žilina's professional theater: "Against the superiority of the model of realistic play of the 19th century and especially against expressionlessness, propagandistic ideology, naturalism and descriptiveness, Palek's work posed artistic sophistication more rebellious poetry. " In the all-Slovak premiere, for example, Jozef Palka presented the impressionist story of Šrámek's Leto (1956), where Hana Čelková - Hegerová also played one of the main roles. It was the only Slovak study so far. During this period, the legendary, most spectator-successful production of Hviezdoslav's Hájnik's Wife (1955) in Palkov was directed by the Žilina theater. Palko's work in the Žilina Theater, which is one of the most artistically successful periods in the Žilina Theater, culminated artistically with the introduction of the nationwide premiere of the production of Schiller's drama Mária Stuartová (1957) starring Bohumila Horňáková - Růžičková.
A leading artistic figure is absent from the Žilina Theater, which has been called the Petr Jilemnický Theater since 1956, after Palko's departure as artistic director at the State Theater in Košice. In 1957-1960, a young graduate directed by Juraj Svodboda worked in Žilina. Among the productions he staged at the Žilina Theater, theater critics highlighted the production of the play by the Turkish, communist-oriented author Nazim Hikmet Čudák (1957) as well as the production of the American author Lorraine Hansberry Hrozienko in the Sun (1960). This production was one of the most artistically creative in the existence of the Žilina theater and evoked a great response, which was, among other things, related to the social theme of the play and the color of America's gendered environment. Juraj Svoboda also presented one of the most popular plays performed in Czechoslovak theaters in Žilina - a text by Pavel Kohout Taká láska (1958), which brought intimate, private problems and an untraditional open mosaic-like compositional structure to the stage. In 1958, the well-known theater director Martin Hollý, who had already had a successful directorial career at the Martin Theater, accepted an engagement here. However, Hollé's productions in the Žilina theater did not surpass the brilliance of his famous Martin era.
After the sudden death of Martin Hollý in 1960, director Libor Pleva came to the theater, who was expected to modernize the theater's dramaturgy in contrast to the traditional, strictly realistic Martin Hollé theater. However, as it turned out, neither the artistic ensemble nor the audience were sufficient for its intellectually oriented repertoire. With the departure of Libor Pleva (1963), the level of work and production of the Žilina theater began to fluctuate considerably. At the beginning of the last season, Juraj Svoboda staged a captivating production of the play by the American playwright Tennessee Williams Električka called Desire (1965). However, even the significant creative and dramaturgical work of this production did not reverse the decision of the then power to cancel the Petr Jilemnický Theater at the end of the 1965/1966 season due to the insufficient artistic level of recent seasons and the long-lasting absence of a leading artistic figure. After the official abolition of the theater, a reduced ensemble remained in Žilina for another three years (out of the original number of twenty-seven actors, sixteen remained), but already as the Žilina stage, which was part of the Martin Theater of the Slovak National Uprising. The temporary existence of the Žilina stage of the Martin Theater ended in 1969. Ten actors of the Žilina ensemble moved from the beginning of the 1969/1970 season to the acting ensemble in Martin. For more than twenty years (from 1969 to 1991), the activities of the professional drama theater in Žilina were suspended.
New professional beginnings
After a long break, the Municipal Theater of Žilina was established in January 1992 with a generous gesture by the then mayor of Žilina Ján Slot, as the first non-state professional repertoire theater in Slovakia, which did not fall within the founding competence of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. Again, this is the predominant will of the city, which wants to have its own representative play. The first production of the newly opened theater was Hviezdoslav's Hájnik's Wife in a re-poem by Štefan Moravčík, with which director Ľuboš Midriak followed Palka's successful production from 1955 (the production premiered on November 8, 1991, before the official establishment of the Municipal Theater). Ľuboš Midriak also became the first director, artistic director and director of the Žilina Municipal Theater. Thus begins another period of re-professionalization of amateur theater. Already the first season has shown that it will be very difficult to realize a quality theater after the interruption of theatrical continuity, with the lack of a staging tradition and with an artistically unbalanced acting ensemble.
From this early period, the project of stylized theater by director and artistic director of the theater Miroslav Benko Soft Dreams (1994) most resonated artistically. Since 1995, there have been two stages in the Municipal Theater: Drama of the Žilina Municipal Theater and the Maják Theater for Children and Youth (Maják Theater was originally an amateur theater, which operated in Žilina since 1980 under the artistic direction of the passionate theater director Tomáš Rosický, and which became professional in 1990. .). After the abolition of the Drama of the Municipal Theater in 1996, which failed to fulfill its artistic ambitions mainly due to large reserves in the quality of the acting ensemble, only one ensemble remained operating in the Municipal Theater building - the Maják Theater for Children and Youth. The Maják Theater gradually underwent an internal transformation of dramaturgy and thematically expanded to include a repertoire for the adult audience. Experienced theater artists such as Matúš Oľha, Marián Pecko, and young progressive directors such as Eduard Kudláč, Tomáš Hudcovič, Rastislav Ballek began to collaborate with him. After the unexpected death of the main artistic personality of Tomáš Rosický Lighthouse in 2002 and after the completion of the magnificent reconstruction of the Municipal Theater theater building (1999-2003), the Lighthouse Theater for Children and Youth officially stopped using its name and began operating under the Žilina Municipal Theater.
Finding a new face
From this period, new history of Žilina theater began to be written, an ambitious attempt at its further professionalization and the search for a new face. However, the then management of the theater - director Elena Dikošová (1996 -2007) and artistic director Rastislav Ballek (2003 - 2008) seem to be unable to overcome the identifying features of the old Maják theater. The theatre's production remained mainly aimed at children, and the productions were mostly staged in the morning for organized groups of children and students. The theater organized educational concerts for children and invited many guest performances. The dramaturgy of the theater also began to focus on the musical, which was to become attractive especially for evening audiences. In the theater, director Anton Šulík directed the trilogy of bandit musicals Painted on Glass (2004), Gypsies Go to Heaven (2006) and Ballad for a Bandit (2008). One of the greatest artistic contributions from this period is the production of Ivan Stodol's play Bač's Wife, directed by Marián Peck (2004). It is interesting that Rastislav Ballek did not manage to exceed the artistic quality of the authorial productions Pustokvet, Atoms of God and Without God in the World, which were created during his internal work in the Martin Theater, in the Žilina theater. Since 2004, the Žilina Theater has started to organize the international festival of open theater Žilina St. Thomas' Night.
The Žilina Municipal Theater is gradually succeeding in getting rid of the deposits of the problematic past, leaving the territory of proven drama and starting to focus on contemporary texts presented in the Slovak premiere, new dramatizations and the original contemporary Slovak drama. The artistic direction of the new director of the theater, Anton Šulík (since November 2012), also continues in this artistic direction of the theater. The last seasons at the Žilina Theater are proof that the theater is successfully getting rid of the label of the regional theater on this bold path of "experimentation" with contemporary texts. And what is important, the Municipal Theater of Žilina is the theater that is being talked about.