Doors Open: May 26-27
See the old projection booth before it's changed forever
There’s one door that’s rarely open at The Revue – the door accessed through the men’s washroom to the upstairs office and projection room. But you’ll be able to go through that door on Saturday and Sunday, May 26-27, during Toronto’s Doors Open.
For the first time, The Revue is participating in this celebration of the city’s architecture and cultural history. The cinema will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free to the visiting public on those two days.
This year, Doors Open celebrates the people who built this city. We’ll be highlighting the entrerpreneurs who opened our little cinema 100 years ago, as well as its evolution from Edwardian box with no washrooms and 500-plus seats to its present configuration accommodating about 230.
To visit the projection booth, you’ll have to sign a waiver – the metal steps going up are steep and shallow, more like a ladder. But you should see the two big machines, relics that have for decades projected 35mm moving images at the breakneck speed of 24 frames per second (16 frames per foot). All that’s going to change later this year, when the theatre introduces new digital technology essential for its survival. Indeed, 2012 marks a cinema industry sea-change: the rapid transition from distributing movies as expensive, heavy 35mm prints (the standard from 1909) to digital projection.
Fortunately, we are documenting the projection rooms, thanks to Stephen McNeill, an established photographer who lives in Roncesvalles Village. He kindly agreed to volunteer his time and skills to record in images the projection booth as it's existed for many years.
There's even an old ice box (refrigerator) up there, now filled with projector lubricants, that's been there since, one might suspect, the 1920s.
We will have a display of McNeill's photos for those who prefer not to scale the precipitous stairs to the projection room and office. He will also be creating a photo-documentary to preserve a passing era.
During Doors Open, we will have displays of The Revue's founders. The photo accompanying this article shows Ronald Tickner, a man with an interest in photography and a love of amateur theatrics. The photo shows him acting in a play, at the left.
We are still looking for photos of what the theatre might have looked like in the 'teens and the 1920s, when it presented an Edwardian style. Maybe, somewhere out there, there is a shot of The Revue in the 1920s.