Welcome back to the Isaac Theatre Royal

The Isaac Theatre Royal is reopening on Monday 17 November. We have been watching the progress of the renovation, and are so pleased to see this Edwardian beauty come back into the Christchurch cultural firmament.

The people of Christchurch, in seeing the need to establish a venue for the local music society to perform, constructed the Music Hall on the original site in 1863. Then a visiting American actor conceived the idea of a theatre. This met with the approval of the society and in 1863 after some structural alterations the venue was re-opened and re-named the Royal Princess Theatre. Productions staged until the building’s demolition in 1876 included Shakespeare’s Richard II, King Henry IV, The Merchant of Venice, and other classics like Don Giovanni. The second theatre was opened eighteen weeks after the closure. The present Theatre Royal, which stands opposite the original site in Gloucester Street, opened 25 Feb. 1908 with a performance of The Blue Moon. — The Press:, 4 Oct. 1905, p. 7/ 8; The Press, 26 Feb. 1908, p. 7.

Read more about its history on the Isaac Theatre Royal website.

Exterior view of the Theatre Royal, Christchurch, prior to opening [1907]
Exterior view of the Theatre Royal, Christchurch, prior to opening [1907] CCL PhotoCD 2, IMG0061
Congratulations to all those who have worked so hard to make this happen.

Bravo!

Cover of The Theatre RoyalFind out more:

Naxos Theatre presents…

Logo of Naxos Video LibraryWhilst making myself aware of what library resources we have via the Source today I came upon ‘a gem’. Now I quite understand if you don’t think this tidbit of information is mind-blowing, because, let’s face it, we all appreciate different things.

If someone mentioned in passing that they had found a fantastic library resource all about the history of football which showed vintage games of yesteryear, you would probably find me in the foetal position banging my head on any available wall (not as easy as it sounds!).  But theatre productions – now, that’s a totally different ball game (every pun intended).

I clicked on Music, audio & video and chose the option Naxos Video Library. I then selected the option Genres and Programmes which showed me Theatre.  I would have had much more immediate fun if I hadn’t clicked on Opera, Monuments/History/Geography and Feature Films first, but maybe I had to wade my way through the potential of these first to truly experience the excitement I felt when – alphabetically by playwright’s surname – I found plays and theatre productions I had never heard of before. Some of these productions go back as far as 1960 with the most recent being a Shakespearean play put on at the Globe Theatre in 2011.

Cover of Much Ado About NothingAnyway, back to the 1960s and 70s…  Eli Wallach, Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman, Ingrid Bergman, William Hurt, Sissy Spacek, Jason Robards, Walter Matthau are just a few of the American actors who ‘trod the boards’ in their younger years before Hollywood beckoned. Some of the offerings are literally on stage sets, whilst others are televised versions of plays.

Chekov’s The Seagull , Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing are just a few of the more recognised plays, but there are also playwrights and plays I’ve never heard of before.

After much dithering I’ve decided to watch the 1979 production of Mourning Becomes Electra, Eugene O’Neill’s ‘classic American drama of love, revenge, murder and suicide’ with hopefully not a football in sight!

Have a look at the Naxos Music or Video Library next time you are on the library website – there’s a HUGE amount of material to cast your eye over.

 

The ghosts of cinema past

Architectural plan of Everybody's TheatreEverybody’s Theatre (pictured) was proposed to be built on Lichfield Street the 1930s, and I’m thinking it might have been quite flash for a night out.

The image is from of our collection of  digitised plans of Christchurch buildings, where you’ll also find the original floor plan of the Majestic Theatre. I read recently that the Majestic building will be refurbished again, and I started thinking about the disappeared theatres in Christchurch.

From the tiny Savoy 1 & 2 (where I saw everything from Star Wars and  2001 : A Space Odyssey to Arnie movies and the eye-popping Evil Dead 2)  to the West End (Stripes), or the Avon (Goodbye Pork Pie, I think), there’s several theatres that have disappeared over the years.

Which Christchurch theatres do you remember? And which movies did you see at them?