In 1866 Circus owner Oscar Carré finally got permission to build his first stone theatre in Amsterdam. Till then he had to erect wooden circus buildings which where demolished after the circus left. The first shows of the Circus Carré (still under the management of Oscar his father at that point) were given in such a wooden building on the Amstelveld very near to the current building. On the 3rd of December 1887 the Royal Circus Carré building was officially opened. It immediately became a big success. At first Carré was only used during the winter for Oscar Carré his circus performances, the rest of the year his circus travelled and the building stood empty. However, in 1893 the theatre was rented out during the summer, which meant that there were performances all year round. Carré turned into a variété theatre (Dutch version of a Music Hall). After the death of Oscar Carré in 1911 the theatre had a bad period. No profits were made even though several directors tried new things. However they were not very profitable. Finally (in 1924) two gentlemen named Benjamin and Content were able to make a profit with Carré. After them, Alex Wunnink became the director. He was successful and brought many new shows, the theatre became profitable again. With the Circus Strassburger playing Carré with three different shows each winter the building kept its circus tradition.
After the death of Alex Wunnik his son Karel Wunnink became the new director. In 1968 Carré was bought with the intention to break it down and build a hotel on its place. That’s when the municipality of Amsterdam got involved. They made a new destination plan, and two years later it got a monumental status to protect the theatre. In 1974 Guus Oster became the new director, but he had difficulties attracting public. However he took some serious measures and eventually a couple of new (and very successful) shows saved him and Carré.
In 1977 Carré became the official theatre of Amsterdam, because the municipality bought it and when it celebrated its centenary Her Majesty Queen Beatrix gave her permission to put the title Royal back on the building’s façade. However not as the Royal Circus, Carré had become the Royal Theatre.
Every winter the best circus acts in the world are booked to perform in the circus ring of Carré by the producers of the World Christmas Circus (Wereldkerstcircus). They ensure that until this day the name Carré still is a synonym for high quality within the international circus world.
Koninklijk Theater Carré
1018 EM Amsterdam