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From the street the new entrance
                                            could be the head-office for an
                                            insurance company, a hotel or some
                                            other up-market business, but this is a
                                            small price to pay for a better layout.
                                               White’s interior is largely
                                            unchanged. It shows his signature touch
                                            of  a ‘square-edge’ proscenium. This is
                                            a single balcony theatre, and from an
                                            audience viewpoint, all the better for it.
                                            Instead of a sculptured ceiling dome,
          Former Majestic, Christchurch. The
                                            White suggested one. He outlined the
          austerity of the Romanesque interior suits
                                            circumference in high-relief plaster, set
          its current use. The sound shields are to
                                            a chandelier in it, and let imagination
          be removed to show the original ceiling.
                                            do the rest.
          Image: Peter Wolfenden.
          Surprisingly some single-screen
          construction in this part of South Island
          is as recent as the last five years.
            Here then are some highlights and
          interpretations from Oz eyes and ears,                               Civic, Invercargill. The removal of the
          an attempt to take the pulse of stage                                boxes in the stalls was not an improvement.
          and screen, in a country which delights
                                                                               stage and new seats. The restoration
          in surprising ‘west island’ visitors.
                                                                               included a state-of-the-art fly tower,
          EDWARDIAN ICONS                                                      dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and
            Decisions involving community                                      Green Room.
          expectations for a theatre tread a fine                                 Overall this building is superior to
          line: too respectful, and a large building                           the Isaac Theatre Royal. Here
          can become a mausoleum, go too far                                   Edwardian-style seems new again,
          and “the operation was successful, but                               because so much of it is. To our eyes it
          the patient died.” The decision makers                               was remarkable that a medium-size city
          for the Isaac Theatre Royal and the                                  would lavish such attention on a
          Civic successfully negotiated the                                    theatre. The design was the result of an
          challenge, and so did another group.                                 Australasia-wide contest. Local
                                                                               architect Edward Richardson Wilson
          Theatre Royal, Timaru.
                                                                               won it and gave the city a building
                                            Theatre Royal, Timaru. Henry White  which has pleased succeeding
                                            emphasized the boxes.              generations. If Wilson was never
                                                                               invited to Australia for a theatre
                                            Civic, Invercargill                commission, he should have been!

            New Zealand-born Henry White
          designed or improved some of the most
          cherished theatres in his home country
          and Australia. His career peaked with  Built as a town hall and theatre, the
          the State, Sydney in 1928. How    Civic was always a handsome structure.
          pleasing then to see an example of  The restoration and extensions of recent  Room to move. The stage depth is even
          basic White, when he was working to a  years have created a performing arts  more impressive than its width.
          limited budget.                   theatre worthy of a capital city.
            The upgrade of the Theatre Royal   The classic façade was retained, but  THE SINGLE SCREEN LIVES
          included demolition of the frontage and  the front reception rooms, kitchens and  Perhaps the home theatre revolution
          foyers. The replacement creates easy  foyers were enlarged and modernized.  hasn't yet hit hard, but the single screen
          access to all parts of the theatre,  New staircases and a lift were installed  continues in three forms: small art-
          something lacking in the original. It  to service a twin balcony auditorium,  house in larger cities, usually as space
          also conceals structural solutions to  which has a new floor, an enlarged  carved out of a large building;
          stabilize the walls of the auditorium.
                                                                               regionally, in old cinemas modified for

          8   2006 CINEMARECORD
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