Time Capsule: National Theatre Cellar - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Time Capsule: National Theatre Cellar

Time Capsule: National Theatre Cellar

Published June 15, 2017

Alice Demurtas
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Built and opened in 1950, the National Theatre of Iceland stores a page of Reykjavík’s decadent history in the fiery heart of its cellar.

As I step under its low ceilings, the room greets me with a warm, crimson hug. Faded red stools are carefully arranged to frame two rows of round tables, while the polished wood of the stage shines under the dim lights. The scarlet curtains lined with a golden band are drawn still, waiting.

It’s strange to think that this place is part of the theatre. It hosts a comedy club, improv sessions and cabaret. However, you can almost feel some sort of hidden energy buried under those dark 1950s lath floors. “This place used to be a club,” the cellar’s supervisor Ása Andrésdóttir explains, unveiling the mystery.

“The cognac bar was right there,” she adds as she points behind me. As I touch it, the beautiful glass door tinkles. It’s like a sound from the past, while the smoke of old cigars turns into dust before my eyes.

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