The National Theatre in Warsaw was established in 1765 by King Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski. It was the country's first stage to have a permanent, professional ensemble composed of Polish stage artists.
The National Theatre premiered Bielawski's The Interlopers in its inaugural activities on November 19, 1765 at Warsaw's Operalnia (Opernhaus) on Krolewska Street. Even though the Polish troupe shared the theatre with French, German and Italian ensembles, it was initially referred to as 'national' because it offered Polish language performances of plays by Polish authors. An institution officially referred to as the National Theatre had yet to be created at the time, and many years passed before this name was finally sanctioned.
The theatre on Krolewska Street was originally conceived as a venue that would promote the ideas of the Enlightenment and engage in debate with the Sarmatian culture of the nobility. Jesuit priest Franciszek Bohomolec was perhaps the most interesting contributor to the repertoire during the initial seasons, using his dramatic works to juxtapose the 'old' Pole with the hero of 'modern times' – a man open to the world, one who looked critically upon tradition and contemporary social relations. Z. Raszewski describes in A Brief History of the Polish Theatre:
For the next one hundred years, Poles were to write plays whose central theme was the struggle between two characters of this kind...the 'kontusz' (traditional long coat of the nobility) and 'frak' (tailcoat) became symbols, expressing the conflict between admiration for Western civilization and attachment to national individuality, two social stances that surfaced in Poland when the country was in deep isolation.
In 1868 the public, professional theatre in Warsaw already had a century of experience behind it and was a strong institution. It had survived the partitions of Poland, several periods of disastrous financial management, the fall of several national insurrections... if there was a century-long continuity to be observed, it was, of course, in the realm acting.
Its significance was beyond national as a discovery of hitherto untapped emotional realms, the possibilities of old religious and lay theatre, and of the inexhaustible resources of folklore. Dejmek (...) offered the original beauty of mystery plays styled in line with late 20th century tastes. The combination proved both humorous and deeply moving.'