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1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 186 (164)

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition
1945 Theatre Catalog
1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 186
Page 186

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 186

Industrial materials excel in large units and in the fiawless evenness of surface, yet they lack pattern. In commercial use, patterns are frequently borrowed from the natural materials by all sorts of marbling techniques or even photographic reproduction of woodgrain on the surface. While such imitative practice is not in accord with the ideas of honesty and function, there is an important distinction to be made in the application of such tricks. The theatre, as such, belongs among those places where people gather for only a limited period of time. Here they want to be entertained, to be caught by a temporary atmosphere, created by the performance and supported by the environment. This short-living refuge from reality is something different from a home or a living room where objects are to be lived with and should not be reduced to mere stage settings. The stunning effects of unexpected illusions work only for a limited time and soon turn out to be annoyances. In a theatre, on the other hand, just as in restaurants and night clubs, such illusionistic effects can be used to advantage. Yet, because they are not intended for actual and permanent deception, it is smarter to simulate their effect in an unrealistic presentation than to utilize an authentic reproduction. Marbling design can be applied to plaster surfaces by paint in exaggerated proportions, in more colorful combinations than those provided by nature and it does not have to comply with the limitations of genuine marble either as to sizes or seams.

This example brings up the use of paint as a means for decoration. Paint is the least expensive and most versatile surface treatment, providing the best oportunities for the decorator to develop his very personal concept without too serious restrictions. adjusting the schemes to the prevalent light condition may be seen as such a restriction. Another one has to do with the surfaces exposed to heavy wear.

The provision for'

A TWO-STORY ARRANGEMENT results in (compare with the following picture) pleasant height at the rear of the orchestra, with additional airiness obtained by vaulting. The unbroken areas of the dome and ceiling emphasize the structural features of the auditorium. The mezzanine boxes rimming the rear portion of the auditorium break up the effect of the arches which might otherwise give the impression of too much height.

Paint shOuld be excluded from exposed areas; enamel coating is only a temporary resort and can not be considered a permanent finish. We can safely expect in the near future that new synthetic materials in thin sheetings will be suiiiciently scratch-proof for the protection of exposed surfaces.

Structure and Decoration

Decoration should not intrude into structure or indulge in imitative structural detail. Special conditions, of course, will at any time justify exceptions. In general, decoration should have the light character of a surface without taking up too much of structural symbolism. Use

THIS LOW BALCONY SOFFIT (compare with the previous illustration) is divided into styles and panels. Notice the old-fashioned lighting (which, however, has since been removed) and the typical center aisle. While a theatre of probably breath-taking beauty, by the standards of the day in which it was built, present day operation requires a house not only more emcient but one better adapted to showing sound motion pictures.



of plain colors is the simplest method of creating a background for the structural features, provided these features, such as framed openings of boxes, domes in the ceiling, the curved sweep of the balcony face, are impressive enough to be singled out by this procedure. Networks, stripes in vertical or horizontal direction, division into sections of various shapes or patterns of all kinds have to consider the scale, whether they are executed in paint, in relief, or any other medium. Consistency of scale does not exclude the clever interlacing of different scales in one scheme.

Flexibility of Schemes and Maintenance

It is evident that the permanent character of monumental architecture, as described before, is out forever. Its lack of fiexibility has, in fact, caused all the trouble. The new way of surface decoration will lend itself much better to lesser changes in wake of maintenance and repairs. The ever-growing infiuence of the fashion of the moment has to be taken into account; with its short-living cycles, it has come to replace long-lasting and more permanent style periods. Maintenance is much more difficult in present operation compared with former conditions. Continuity of performance and large turnover of the audience means heavy wear on seating, carpets, and all exposed surfaces, such as wainscotings, traffic corners, and staircases. Besides, the patrons have changed their conception of the theatre as a place of restricting formality. The management can no more rely on the considerate behavior of the customers, in particular of the younger crowd.

What does that mean in practical terms? Protection of exposed parts by surface materials of satisfactory resistance; unbroken walls avoiding unnecessarily projecting members (such as pilasters) which result in corners and '

1945 Theatre Catalog, 4th Edition, Page 186