The Empire Theater in Albany was open during the early 1900s and while the population today has reached over fifty-thousand, the city was much smaller back then. The Empire was also not the only theater open in this area at the time, so in order to ensure they would have steady business, this theater was forced to explore alternative promotional strategies. This included many musical performances.
Other Leisure Activities
Community activities in competition with the movies
The Portland Playhouse is a nonprofit theatre company created by Nikki and Brian (last names unknown) in 2008/2009. They both shared a deep passion for theatre, which led them to buy an old Church in the King Neighborhood. This theatre stands out against other non-commercial theatres because of its use of its platform. Their mission statements, which can be found throughout their website, is to work to be radically inclusive on and off stage. They prioritize the needs of their community and use various events to help create a safe place free of discrimination and oppressive mannerisms.
Theaters can play important roles in towns big and small, like by creating a sense of community. Other activities coming to a town aren’t always a form of competition, instead they may work together. In the small town of Athena, plans for construction of a new swimming pool in City Park were set in February of 1928. A majority of the funds and labor needed for construction were donated by various people and business, one of those being the Standard Theatre (1).
While today we expect movie theaters just to play movies, this wasn’t always the case. Theaters were more prominent parts of their neighborhoods and hosted all kinds of events. In Tillamook, Oregon in the 1910s, it was not out of the ordinary for films to not play at all on some days at certain theaters. Specifically, at the Gem Theatre, there were quite a few productions from high schools and churches performing things like plays, comedy, and music1.
The sport of boxing has had a tumultuous time throughout its long history in the United States. Fighting through times of extensive regulation from both State and Federal legislatures, the sport has always managed to survive as a popular spectacle. In the early 1900s, boxing was mostly relegated to fights between local sports clubs with minor crowds and promotion. These matches were purely exhibition as officially judged bouts or bouts with payouts were federally illegal, acting as a ban on prizefighting in general.
The Ice Hippodrome, or Ice Palace, opened in Portland in 1914. It was a huge building, the largest ice skating rink in the world when it was built. It was regularly advertised next to theaters in the Morning Oregonian as a form of entertainment (Figure 1). Like the movies, the ice rink often advertised live band performances to go along with their skating sessions. When it opened, it even offered free instruction to beginners, making skating more accessible to the general public.
It seems that quite a bit of Portland theaters during the early 20th century would organize charity programs or host public leisure events to become friendly with the community, and further research proves that a similar kind of behavior exists among the popular theater chains of today.