Chowringhee Theatre, Theatre Road, Lower Chowringhee, 1833

থিয়েটার রোডের অধুনালুপ্ত রঙ্গালয়, ‘চৌরঙ্গি থিয়েটার’, ১৮৩৩
This image shows the imposing theatre on the corner of Theatre Street and Lower Chowringhee Road. The whole site between Chowringee Road and Elysiam Row (Now Lord Sinha Road) was occupied by the Chowringee Theatre. The adjacent house to the north was known as Ballards’ Place. The expenses of the construction and the cost of the materials for the stage were borne by a number of gentlemen subscribing amongst themselves the shares of Rs. 100 each. It was beautifully crowned with a dome. The Chowringhee Theatre (1813 to 1839) was the principal theatrical venue in the city.  Some affluent British theatre-lovers along with a few Bengali elites founded Chowringhee Theatre. Accordingly, this also came to be known as the ‘Subscription Theatre’ Among the illustrious patrons who donated generously for this Theatre, the names of Mr. Hares Heman Wilson, D.L. Richardson, Dwarakanath Thakur etc. deserve mention. It was inaugurated on 25th November, 1813 and the maiden play held here was a remarkable tragedy named ‘Castle Spectre’. Several dramas were performed here in course of time. The actors in the initial days were amateurs. Later, some renowned professional actors joined this troupe breaking away from the big banners. But, the Theatre was staggering due to acute financial stringency. In 1835, Prince Dwarakanath Thakur purchased it and made some drastic renovations. Unfortunately, in 1839, this Theatre was completely incinerated. After that it was never revamped and play acting was never resumed here. – Interestingly, the female roles at the theatre were played by professional actresses but male roles were taken by amateurs, such as William Princep, whose memoirs describe his theatre work in detail, both as actor and set designer, and give us insights into the running of the building.
This lithograph of painting dated 1833 is taken from plate 22 from ‘Views of Calcutta’ an album of paintings by William Wood.

4 thoughts on “Chowringhee Theatre, Theatre Road, Lower Chowringhee, 1833

  1. Your site is excellent and most informative. Many thanks for all the effort involved. I would just like to raise a small point about the exact location of Ballard’s Buildings. The 1857 map of Calcutta by Frederick Simms (based on 1847-1849 data) shows Ballard’s Buildings labelled and located between where the old Theatre was and the Bishop’s Palace. This means Ballard’s was to the south (not north as written in the above text) of the Theatre. This is also confirmed by the 1841 Bengal Guide and Gazetteer which gives Ballard’s Buildings as number 31 Chowringhee Road to the south of where the old theatre was.

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    1. Thanks Peter, you are absolutely right. Puronokolkata will remain grateful to you for correcting the position of the Ballard’s Buildings. I consulted the 1857 Calcutta Map From Actual Survey often in recent time but never did look back and check. Perhaps so it happens because of my inability to recollect details of most things of my works once done. This is a serious disadvantage for a lone researcher like me that can be compensated only by constructive critical reviewing enhancing the quality of contents , as you did. Warm wishes

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  2. Samipendra Banerjee July 9, 2018 — 1:21 pm

    My search for old theatre buildings of Calcutta accidentally brought me here and I’m fascinated by the work that has been done here. A structured digital/visual historiography of our rich heritage has been long overdue. But why don’t I find entries on the Star or Minerva Theatres here? And, could you also think about improving the navigation of the website? My sincerest gratitude for such an effort.

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    1. My apologies, Samipendra, for this delayed response to your kind comments. I am sorry for giving Bengali theaters a miss due to lack of materials. Today, when I gained access to sources, I don’t have time to take it up being preoccupied with stories of and about Dhurrumtollah. Hope, someone like you came forward to do it for puronokolkalkata. The site offers a keyword search and facility to browse a subject-tree, which may not be readily visible on a phone screen. I welcome any help for improvement. Warm wishes

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