The article presents the figure of Jan Konstanty Checinski, who was an actor, director, playwright, pedagogue and an incredibly effective manager of the Warsaw Government Theatres (Warszawskie Teatry Rzadowe). Although forgotten and unappreciated by twentieth-century theatre historians, he played a very important role as an institutional reformer of the Polish theatre at the end of the nineteenth century and laid foundations for the reform that took place several dozen years later. The account of his life and career noting his achievements in the field of drama, directing, acting, teaching, and theatre management presents him as a full artistic personality. To some, he was the first modern theatre director in Poland. He introduced Warsaw audiences to Shakespeare, Schiller, and Slowacki, and his productions differed from the nineteenth century canon. His years as the head of the Warsaw Government Theatres helped to put the Warsaw theatres on par with the Viennese Burgtheater or the Parisian Comédie Française.