Page 12 - CinemaRecord Edition 3-2002 #37
P. 12

Clockwise from top left: The monogram above the proscenium; view to stage space from the new mezzanine; the simple plaster
          work on the barrel ceiling.
            The theatre showed its last film  the extra word painted in to join the  over the building. A mezzanine floor
          about the end of 1939. After a spell it  original rendered letters set high on the  has replaced the original balcony from
          re-opened as a vaudeville show one  façade. When vaudeville ceased the  back wall to stage. Memories flooded
          night a week with a chap called Les  doors to entertainment closed forever.  back, revived by the traces of the
          White as Master of Ceremonies. He     The next occupant was a firm    original interior – the plaster patterns
          also doubled as a comedian. Other  called Joy Toys. They were followed  of the ceiling, some original light
          performers I remember were the     by a knit wear and clothing firm. Later  fittings and the monogram APT high
          Clarence Sisters and the Leonard   a ski school became the tenant. The  on what is left of the proscenium. A
          Brothers who later appeared in variety  artificial ski slope finished near the  huge skylight has replaced the open
          shows on television.               old stalls entrance.               roof section. Art and imagination have
            It was at this time that the theatre  Recently the manager of Sothebys  returned to the old address.
          became The New Armadale Theatre,   Australia Pty. Ltd. allowed me to look

                            The Start of Something Big

            Within the plain walls of the    correspondence of this time there is a  The Armadale was possibly the
          Armadale a young Mendel Snider     tension between inspectors and     only purpose-built, balcony cinema in
          honed his skills in theatre management.  managers over the realities of day-to-  Victoria that retained the bio box at the
          Snider looked to the possibilities  day life. An example occurred at the  back of the stalls. In 1935 Hoyts
          offered by the construction of the New  Armadale Picture Theatre in 1915  informed the Health Department of
          Malvern, one rail station away and  when a Health inspector came across a  plans to remodel the theatre. Instead,
          supervised its opening in 1921. The two  poster painting workshop which was  they terminated their lease.
          theatres were now in the Associated  set up behind the screen. Snider was  The Department summarized the
          Theatres Pty. Ltd. chain and were soon  notified that the practice of combining  last years of independent showmen at
          sharing programs.                  a factory with a theatre had to cease.  the Armadale in this way: ‘The first
            The Managing Director of Associated  Snider replied that he had ‘the best  went broke in a few weeks and left
          Theatres Francis W. Thring was the  poster artist in Australia working  without paying the rent. The present
          visionary, but Snider, as their Director for  backstage in the day time, with a wife  operator is unable to pay more than a
          Planning and Construction, played a  and two children to support.     portion of the rent, owing to bad
          hands on role in the development of the  Unfortunately he is a victim to drink  pictures and consequent poor
          Regent South Yarra and the Regent  and it is necessary for me to have him  attendances.’
          Gardiner. Snider later formed the  under my observation, not             Dreams of running a picture theatre
          partnership Snider and Dean that   withstanding he is the best poster artist  die hard. In 1946 the owners of the
          acquired theatres in Bourke Street and  in Australia, he could not obtain work  building wrote to Health to ask about
          became a presence in New South Wales.  elsewhere on account of his failing. I  re-registering the building for films.
             In the teen years of the last century  would be grateful if you could see  The answer was terminal: since the
          governments in Victoria were proud of  your way clear to modify the   theatre had been closed for four years,
          the regulations and enforcement that  restrictions you place on him being  it would be categorized as a new
          made theatres structurally safe and if  there, as it would create great hardship  building and subject to the new
          not fire proof, at least fire sensible. In  if I were to dismiss him.’  regulations.   ★

          12  2002 CINEMARECORD
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