Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Most Elegant Theatre I've Seen

In the past 3 months, I have spent a lot of time blogging about, or in the past month actually volunteering at The Senator Theatre, which is the historic movie theatre down the street from me. I've written a lot about the political situation surrounding The Senator, where the Baltimore City government is attempting to force a change in management, because of a grudge certain city officials apparently hold against the current owner.

What I haven't written about much is just why this is important to me, so it's high time I write a bit about why The Senator is so unique. I just love this place. I bought my house in part because The Senator was in my neighborhood and I just fell in love with it the first time I saw it. The Senator is an incredibly beautiful art deco movie theatre, first opened in 1939. It's got a spectacular facade with neon, and a beautiful circular outer lobby. Every line in the place is all curves.

It's perfectly proportioned and has a giant screen with a moderately sized auditorium, so that every seat in the house is a great seat. I can't overemphasize the importance of this, as many historic theatres I've been in have screens that are too small for the number of seats. The sound system and technical presentation has been consistently updated, so it's the best place to see a movie I've ever encountered. In short, the underlying structure is just amazing, and makes it the most elegant theatre I've ever seen. Someone just looking at the surface might not notice this, because there's some restoration that needs to occur. You have to really look at the structure to see how perfect this place is.

When I found out the theatre was having financial troubles, I eventually got in touch with the owner. I found out a lot about the reality of running a historic movie theatre, which is nearly impossible in today's economy. Then I found out that the owner and his staff have been making this heroic effort to keep the place in operation for many years, but the city of Baltimore has not only not been helping, they've been actively trying to drive him out of business, and as far as I can tell it's because they'd like to seize the property themselves and turn it over to a developer. My sense of injustice was engaged at that point, and I just can't stand by while Tom Kiefaber (the theatre owner) possibly loses his home and he and his staff lose everything they've worked for after trying so hard to keep The Senator available to future generations. There might be nothing I can do about it, which is frustrating, but at least I can provide some form of support.

I'm worried that the city government, which is trying so hard to take the place over, really doesn't get why it's special. People don't get the importance of saving The Senator unless they get that some things are about beauty and art and not just about money. It speaks to me that there's this incredible place that needs to be defended against the destructive, greedy focus on money for money's sake that's so prevalent.

Well, anyway, I always wanted to work in a movie theatre, so now I'm volunteering there. There are worse things in life than hanging out and eating popcorn, selling tickets and memorabilia, and watching movies. I just hope we can save this beautiful place, because it needs to exist simply because it's one of the good things in life.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've walked by a few times, but can't bring myself to go into the lobby for fear of bursting into tears. With the Star Trek movie coming out this weekend, I have to keep reminding myself that I won't be able to go to the Senator to see this with my Dad, a tradition that began when he took me to see the original Star Wars there. It was the one constant in our relationship since I was a young girl. I don't want to replace this experience.
I'm praying for a miracle.

May 05, 2009


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home