> > > >

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 181 (159)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 181
Page 181

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 181

starting a new structure; it may even more than compensate the higher costs.

Because reconstructions, as described, amount to almost a new building, they shall not be discussed here any further; the idea of remodeling with its lesser ambition of making the best out of the existing assets shall be the subject to be analyzed in the following points.

After a thorough investigation of all aspects, the plan for remodeling can be shaped up to an optimum of relation between effort and expected results. Compromises will have to be made for reconciling the attainable improvements with economic considerations. Every detail of the intended plan for changes has to be evaluated individually from this point of view. An architect with a special talent for this type of work will often take advantage of given conditions, unfavorable though they may appear at first. Restrictions in free decisions will beget stronger efforts to overcome those limitations, sometimes with surprising results. A deficienCy of the old status may turn into an asset of the new one.

Before going into a more concrete analysis of the subject, one main point has to be emphasized: The operation of the theatre has to be well defined, so

that the requirements can be definitely

established. Vaudeville performance, alternating with screen performance, will necessarily result in a double duty auditorium, compromises concerning angle of view, light distribution, preferred seats regarding their distance from the stage, will have to satisfy the more rigid requirements of the respective typee which means that, for example, all seats with perfect angle of view towards the screen will have the same quality for stage performance, but not in reverse; that the requirement of more brilliant lighting and consequently more elaborate decoration will have to be added to the lesser requirement in this respect for the dimmed-down screen auditorium. The middle section of the orchestraenot too far and not too close to the stangill be the preferred choice for this type of combined operation. Newly erected theatres of this type (such as the Radio City Music Hall) prove that an ideal solution for such double duty auditoriums of large capacity is beyond reach.


In the following an attempt is made to list the variety of special problems which might be involved in a remodeling of an average theatre for predominantly screen operation.

Stage and Backstage

In motion-picture operation, stage and backstage spaces are useless, except for the ten-foot depth necessary for the sound equipment. Because they do not interfere with the operation, they might as well be left alone, considering their occasional use for stage performance or for potential changes of operation and of destination of the building. Trans Lux operation indicates that future developments may have some additional use for this depth in back of the screen.



The proscenium arch, with boxes on either side, represents usually the show piece of a theatre auditorium. In a motion-picture auditorium, these formerly exclusive seating spaces are rather a liability because of their location on the extreme side and close to the screen. Yet the proscenium is the only conspicuous part, because it is likely to catch some light from the screen. Although care has to be taken that no undesirable reflection is thrown back from these areas onto the screen, the basic structure of the proscenium box openings will favor the treatment as a decorative feature. The boxes themselves are better discarded. Many theatre operators will prefer to use them as potential reservoirs of lesser seats for rush times. This, however, is not a good practice, for the contradiction between their architectural emphasis, associated With their tradition of exclusiveness, and the stig ma of being the last choice of a moviegoer is too remindful of obsolescence to be retained any longer. Their presence hurts the prestige of the whole theatre. As a comparative example, a pastry shop when sold out will certainly not sell stale cakes of last week, although some customers may prefer purchasing them to coming home without any.

Naturally there is a variety of methe ods in which to proceed, dependent on the specific situation and on the adaptability of the box space for other purposes. Just leaving them without using the seats is probably the most conservative approach, although not the best one. Closing their front by a continuous drapery or some other decorative medium is another cautious solution, not affecting the structural part. Ripping out the structure completely or only the parts which extend beyond the proscenium front will facilitate many more solutions for a new treatment of the proscenium.

A TYPICAL PROSCENIUM TREATMENT, with the organ grilles incorporated in the architectural scheme, is shown here. The whole area is broken up into structural members filled with classicistic ornamentation. The boxes patched onto the architecture are almost suggestive of their prospective removal. The Space behind could be put to other uses, such as exits. The chandelier, however, has been removed since this photograph was taken.
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 181