Example of Remodeling a Theatre
The third example of theatre draping is the remodeled Portola Theatre in San Francisco using fabric hangings against canvas walls, with mural decorations in black. Without removing the interior finish of the old theatre the treatment shown in Figures 3 and 4 was accomplished.
The problem was to save the expense of rebuilding the theatre and to give a temporary treatment for a year, until a new theatre could be erected. This work (the actual time in the theatre) took five days to complete. With the Curran Theatre, this job was done by the writer while associated with William D. McCann of San Francisco.
A loft was rented and the canvas panels were stretched on the floor, five at a time, squared off and painted. The color scheme for these panels is Pompeian, red marbleized outer borders with dark green and black lines and a vivid green pattern over a gold band for the inside border. The background of the panels is a lighter shade of red than the outer border. Silhouettes of Greek gods with a surrounding pattern were painted thereon. The curtains and festoons were made of sateen, in three shades, henna, green and blue.
While painting the canvas wall panels another section of the loft was set aside and the stencils were cut for the curtains. The henna sateen for the side curtains was made in finished lengths, bound with a blue sateen band, 6 inches wide, with large rings sewn to the tops which were hooked to the large wooden rings at the ceiling line. These curtains were then stretched to the floor and stenciled with oil paint. Two different patterns were used and, by changing the predominant color in each, a multi-colored effect was gained and monotony of pattern was avoided. The color combination for these stencils is blue, green, black and red.
The rings at the ceiling line over the poles are of wood. The wall piece of these holders was cut off close to the ring and a large hook inserted. The rings were then dipped in the same colored paints as were used for the stencils of the curtains.
The festoons are of green sateen and bound on the edges with a 6-inch band of the blue. These were cut and draped in the drapery workroom, ready to hang. Large, circular plaques were cut out of wood, re-inforced on the back, to keep them from warping, and painted gold. A wide border in blue frames the silhouette of a warrior. Gold painted burlap, cut into three shapes of leaves, was hung in cascades from these plaques.
The valance of the stage decoration is a repetition of the festoon effect on the walls, with long, brilliant orange velvet curtains hung at either side of the opening. The stage curtain is of the same velvet and the proscenium arch is painted a sky-blue, stenciled with the same type of designs as those on the side curtains.
The projection box, at the rear of the theatre, is arranged in a tent effect, a large curtain of the henna sateen being hung from the ceiling and held out over the audience by four large poles and spear-ends with tassels of green.
Fig.3. PROSCENIUM TREATMENT IN A THEATRE TO BE USED ONLY WHILE A NEW ONE WAS BEING BUILT
Fig.4 DRAPERIES AND SILOUETTE PANELS GIVE THIS INDIVIDUAL EFFECT TO THE SIDE WALLS OF THE THEATRE SHOWN IN FIGURE 3
To Summarize Theatre Drapery
In reviewing the suggestions made for theatre draping, the main preliminary points to be brought out are:
- Adequate drapery workroom space.
- Weighing the materials.
- Determining the method of hanging, according to the stage mechanic's equipment.
- The requirements for headings.
- The fireproofing requirements.
- The final selection of color and texture of fabrics to be used, under the working lights of the theatre.
These suggestions do not, of course, exhaust the subject but will serve to guide those who wish to pursue further the designing of large curtains for theatres and other public buildings.
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