The first records of theatre life on the territory of today´s Slovakia date back to the Middle Ages, when two basic forms of theatrical expression were present – secular and religious. In 1741, while Bratislava hosted the coronation of Maria Theresa, the first wooden theatre was built in the city. So the theatre life in Slovakia started to be enriched not only by German, Hungarian and Czech travelling companies, but also by nobility theatres in the residences of the aristocracy.
At the time when modern nations were constituted, the establishment and development of national theatres became one of the characteristic features of all nations in the Habsburg monarchy. National theatres in Slovakia were founded by Slovak revivalists. The first of the revivalist amateur theatres was founded in 1830 in Liptovský Mikuláš. Amateur theatres focused on actors, cultivated Slovak as the stage language and became the tribune for national and patriotic thought.
The different social and political situation in post-war Europe and the establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918) brought along substantial changes in Slovak theatre as well. The Slovak National Theatre was founded in 1920, with help from a Czech theatre ensemble, which led to a fruitful dialogue between Czech and Slovak theatre. The period of the independent wartime Slovak Republic (1939 – 1945) was crucial for the development of the Slovak theatre culture. In this period, Slovak theatre seemed to be catching up with all the European tendencies. After communistic, artistically dull 1940s and 1950s, the late 1960s and early 1970s brought along political thawing and cultural boom. 1970s and 1980s passed under the sign of strict control of all artistic activities again, with constant surveillance and banning or restriction of free art.
Slovak theatremakers experienced total freedom in artistic expression only after 1989 and very soon opened up to the world in a newly independent country (1993), accessing European political structures (2003). New independent theatres were established (Stoka, SkRAT, Teatro Tatro, Túlavé divadlo, Pôtoň) and started introducing not only new approaches to theatre, but most of all, also new issues. A strong generation of new playwrights emerged: Viliam Klimáček, Silvester Lavrík, Jana Juráňová, Iveta Horváthova, followed by a generation of young voices starting to work on regional issues (Michal Ditte) or very personal themes related with recent events in their private or social lives (Peter Pavlac, Michaela Zakuťanská).