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1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 47 (13)

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition
1952 Theatre Catalog
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 47
Page 47

1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 47


In Britain, progress in theatre development necessarily has been in the direction of remodeling rather than new construction. Few new theatres have been built in the country since the hey day of the cinema palace development of the late 1930s, yet since that time annual theatre attendance has increased from 917,000,000 to 1,396,000,000. Fortunately, there were comparatively few theatres demolished or put out of operation during the war years. One of the war casualties was the Odeon, in southeast London.

The Odeon was one of the last theatres in the Odeon Circuit to be constructed before the war. Opened in October 1938, it was put out of action in June 1944 by a flying bomb. Since then the authorities permitted repairs of a protective nature, and also, in order to help maintain the skilled craftsmanship of decorative plaster work, allowed a small measure of interior decoration to be done. Finally, licenses were granted for the work necessary to the reopening of the theatre to the public.

The work was carried out under the supervision of architect George Coles, designer of the original building. Now fully refurbished, the 1,729-seater has a completely new decorative treatment, new fiooring, and new equipment.

Another major remodeling project recently was completed at the Gaumont, formerly the Kings Cross, in the Greater London area. In May, 1949, it became apparent that extensive structural alterations would be needed, and the theatre was shuttered. Unfortunately, the economic difficulties of the country prohibited an immediate start on the work, and it was only after pro' tracted negotiations that permission was given for the essential part of the proposed scheme to be undertaken so that the cinema could be reopened. The permitted reconstruction plan involved strengthening the shell of the building, the fitting of a new roof, and complete reconstruction of the auditorium. In redesigning the proscenium a stage was introduced, thus enabling the position of the screen to be changed to improve sight lines from all parts of the auditorium. In addition, it allowed the redesigning of the front exit plan. The auditorium side walls are stepped, and the main ceiling is curved upward, this effect accentuating the proscenium surround, which is formed by vertical ribs of fibrous plaster, enclosing a coved arch, and making the screen appear as though it is mounted in a deep picture frame. New booth equipment and 1,400 new chairs were installed.

Other extensive modernization projects were carried out within the past year at the Tivoli, Blackpool; Century, near London; Ritz, Crayford; Savoy, Swaythling and Palladium, Portsmouth, both owned by Palladium, Ltd.; Gaumont, Grimsby; New Palace, Bristol, and the Astoria, Glasgow.

The country's first new theatre since 1939, still under cnostruction at this Writing, will be the Odeon, Jersey. It will have a seating capacity of 1,359. Provision is being made for a licensed bar, and the prospects for the inclusion


IN SPAIN. the lTOU-seai Fraga. in Vigo, is situated in a building that also houses a ballroom, tea-room. cafe, and exhibition hall. It is one of more than 400 new theatres constructed in Spain.

of large-screen television are being considered in the architects plans. Although Ministry of Works licenses are not necessary for this construction, the difiiculty of obtaining materials has been an obstacle.

Construction was begun this year on Britainls first drive-in theatre, a 250car ozoner being built in Worthing for musician-composer George Posford, and slated to open this summer.

While the progress of the theatre industry in Britain during the years since the war has been of a gradual, plodding nature, owing to the need for strict economy and the difficulty in obtaining permits for any type of construction work, there has been a commendable degree of advancement under the circumstances, and the British industry is striving with all the resources it can muster to keep abreast of the latest developments in equipment, decoration, and furnishings.


Depressed economic conditions in France, also, have made the construction of new theatres almost impossible, but despite conditions French theatremen have been able to modernize most of their houses within the past three years. Replacement of outmoded projection and sound equipment is most noticeable in most of the main theatres of the country, and this realization of the need of keeping abreast of the times has been a major factor in restoring grosses to the healthiest level in several years.

Playing a key role in Francels theatre modernization program are Adrienne Gorska and Pierre de Montaut, the countryis best-known architects specializing in cinema construction and decoration. They have completed, built or dece orated some 55 theatres, and have designed about 200. Their plans have been bought by several countries, and they have built theatres in Belgium, Holland, and Poland, as well as France.

Among the impressive modernization projects they have planned in the past year are the facelifting of the Lynx, a plush Paris house, and the Regent, a smaller but equally attractive spot in a Paris suburb.

Permanent 35mm. theatres in France currently number an estimated 5,362, and 16mm. houses total about 5,380.


In Spain, construction of new theatres continued at a brisk pace during the year, and new showcases were being built in rural areas which never before had theatres, as well as in the metropolitan centers. While Spain had an estimated 3,583 theatres in 1950, it now has more than 4,000.

Certainly the most lavish of the countryis new theatres is the Fraga in Vigo, operated by Isaac Fraga, head of 3 Circuit comprising 26 theatres in Madrid, Asturias, and Galicia. Designed by architect Luis Gutierrez, the Fraga is housed in one of the best buildings ever erected in Spain for public entertainment purposes. The building embodies, in addition to the theatre, a ballroom, tea room, cafe, cocktail bar, an exhibition hall, which opens on the lobbies of the theatre, permitting show patrons to visit the exhibitions at intermissions; a large. salon, which has not yet been allotted to any specific use; and the owners private apartment, two fioors on the top of the building, and including a magnificent art gallery and a large terrace.

The building is of reinforced concrete, with front walls of granite, and due to a huge entrance porch, the general aspect of the structure is monumental. The porch is convenient for posting publicity material, since the theatre has no conventional marquee, and affords protection from rain, which is very frequent in Vigo.

The entrance lobby, bar, and staircases to the mezzanine have mahoganypaneled walls and marble paved floors. The partition between the lobby and the
1952 Theatre Catalog, 10th Edition, Page 47