The next form of theatre to be presented is of an original interior design. It is of the same size and general character as the one just described, except that its audience-hall is half a story higher and reversed, with entrances at the front instead of at the rear. The author employed, for the first time, the same idea in constructing the Nollendorf Theatre in Berlin, Germany, said to be, when completed, the finest theatre in the world devoted to motion pictures. He was there confronted by the serious problem of restricted space. The ground had been secured and a theatre of sufficient capacity had to be erected upon it. To accomplish this with practically a ground floor theatre seemed impossible, but necessity became the mother of invention. A theatre was devised with a stage and lobby in the same area, and an entrance that by two short broken flights of stairs delivered patrons into the auditorium half a story above the sidewalk under the impression that they were in a ground floor theatre.
In order to picture more vividly the appearance of this theatre, we shall accompany our friends Mr. and Mrs. Pleasanton on their initial visit to this new house. They approach the broad portals of the proportionately large lobby, where they purchase their tickets.
Before proceeding to the audience-hall they descend several steps into a spacious half-basement beneath the auditorium to deposit their wraps and wait for the finish of the picture then being shown in the main hall above. They take their seats in this waiting room at a small table where refreshments are served, and there view the pictured current events being shown on a large screen at the farther end of the small hall. A ringing bell announces that the picture in the hall above has been finished, and they with others who also have been waiting ascend the few stairs that lead to the main auditorium.
Basement Plan Small Model Photoplayhouse.
This grand room has the same side walls and ceiling of Caen stone that distinguish the previous original models, the same illuminated cove extending like a band of light beneath the ceiling, and with the same illuminated ventilating dome for a center.
Transversely across the main floor are seventeen double-aisled rows of low-backed, comfortable arm-chairs, with a wide passage space between that divides them nearly in half. As in the theatres devoted to motion pictures previously visited, the seats are filled with gayly dressed people bathed in a radiance mysteriously reflected downward from the continuous light tubes that lay hidden from view behind the ornamental cornice that crowns the inclosing walls of the auditorium. They are intently listening to the distant strains of an orchestra concealed in a hanging balcony above the stage opening. Behind these rows of chairs are three groups of inclosed boxes draped in rich hangings, and against the blackness beyond show dimly the outlines of the glass paneled doors that lead to the foyer.
Out of consideration for the attentive gathering and to appreciate more fully the apparent simplicity of an interior decoration endlessly varied in material and style, the couple silently ascend one of the heavily railed broad marble staircases that lead on both sides of the hall to the balcony where are located the best seats in a picture house.
Upon reaching the balcony, they are impressed by the apparent comfort of the row of open loggias that decorate its front. There is a draped, canopied, circular guest box at each end of the balcony jutting from the wall above the landing platform on the stairs, under which they have passed in making their ascension. Behind the loggias are arranged the same aisled transverse rows of chairs, six in number, and the identical groups of inclosed boxes that give the main floor its appearance of coziness. Here, too, like dim shadows show the glass paneled doors that lead to the balcony foyer beyond.
Taking their seats in one of the open loggias. Mr. and Mrs. Pleasanton view with keen interest the performance, which consists of several reels of an interesting drama. During an intermission of the program the ventilator dome is opened, affording a clear view of the starry blue sky-above. The couple now ascend to the rear foyer of the balcony and take the broad inclosed emergency stairs to the basement. In the rear of the basement, where they have checked their garments, they discover that other stairs lead to this same basement. A flight corresponding to the one they have descended leads to the other side of the rear of the basement, with an opening into an emergency alley on that side of the theatre. Two other stairways with entrances underneath the stairs in the auditorium, that ascend to the balcony, also lead to the fore part of the basement. In the rear of this same basement, adjacent to the emergency stairs, are stationed the two toilets, on one side the men's and on the other side the ladies'.
Mr. and Mrs. Pleasanton gladly vote this a unique and delightful theatre, as it provides, in addition to comfortable seating, spacious cloak rooms and a waiting room in the basement for patrons, where they may be pleasantly entertained while waiting for the termination of a picture in the main auditorium. The two short broken stairways of a dozen steps all told make it practically a ground floor theatre, and the convenient way of going directly to the lowest point in the balcony is far superior to the usual procedure of reaching the balcony at its highest point in the rear and then walking down again to one's seat.