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» Cinematour Forum   » Cinemas and Theatres   » The Union Theater, Los Angeles

   
Author Topic: The Union Theater, Los Angeles
Greg Johnson
New Member

Posts: 5
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted December 19, 2004 06:35 PM      Profile for Greg Johnson   Email Greg Johnson         Edit/Delete Post 
For years there has been a tiny theater sitting at 1122 W. 24th Street in Los Angeles near a school I used to go to. It was called The Union and had 385 seats. For awhile it was actually used as a Union hall for some tile layers. It was been mostly empty for years, but now I hear it may be restored and be hosting entertainment programs again. I believe it has been closed as a movie theater since the early 50's.

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Ken Roe
Member

Posts: 66
From: London, England
Registered: May 2003


 - posted December 20, 2004 02:44 AM      Profile for Ken Roe   Author's Homepage   Email Ken Roe         Edit/Delete Post 
The Film Daily Yearbook 1952 has the Union Theatre listed at 1122 W. 24th Street with a seating capacity of 385.

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David Morrison
New Member

Posts: 46
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jul 2004


 - posted December 24, 2004 01:11 AM      Profile for David Morrison   Email David Morrison         Edit/Delete Post 
Ken's on top of the situation as usual!

Funnily enough, I received this from the current tenants:

"On December 1, 2004 I am happy to report that The Velaslavasay Panorama officially (somewhat unceremoniously) began its lease at the Union Theatre on 24th Street. We had been fortunate enough to work on the marquee previous to this date due to a time-constraint placed upon access to the funding with which the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles generously enabled us to fancy-up the exterior of the building and replace the neon on the marquee.

There is still much work to be done. A rather picturesque waterfall must be removed as it happens to fall directly upon the main electrical panel! Right now, no toilets are working! And, a somewhat significant amount of construction must be done to create a circular viewing platform for the panorama - not to mention the creation of the new panoramic exhibition itself which will be much larger than at our old space, also with an added element of sound and a changing light cycle. Optimistically, it may take about a year to create this new panorama.

Realistically, our timeline depends a great deal upon funding.....

BUT! Our first officially "official" event will take place in late January or early February 2005 - a neon-sign marquee relighting ceremony. This will be our first chance to officially show our new location to everyone and explain a bit more about our plans for the future exhibit. Also, because the Union Theatre was once a movie theatre (one of Los Angeles' earliest) there still remains an area of theatre seats and we will be able to use this area for lecture series, performances and presentations. It is our plan to make use of this feature while the new panorama and other exhibits are still under construction and installation.

IN ANY CASE, if you would like to come visit the new site please let us know as we are more than happy to have people drop by during this exciting phase of development and especially now that we are back to having a home that we can even have people drop by at. We will surely keep you updated as things progress - would you perhaps be willing to be added to our mailing list? From time to time we send out emails, but are much more reliable about sending out old-fashioned postal mail.

Again, thank you for your message and best wishes for the close of 2004.

With Kind Regards,

Sara Velas
Director
The Velaslavasay Panorama
1122 West 24th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90007
(213)746-2166"

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted December 24, 2004 09:27 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
What exactly is this "panorama exhibition" like? I assume that it is not Imax or someone would have said that, especially with reference to a special seating platform. It especially interests me since it reminds me of the Panorama Painters Hall that was built here in Milwaukee in the 1870s to show one of the largest original panoramas in the nation: "The Battle of Gettysburg." They were the original panoramas being 400-foot-long by 60-foot-high canvases painted by scenic artists who also created ground effects to lead one into the scene, with the earliest electric lights above set into the first reflectors to cast upon the scene. The paying audience stood upon a raised platform about 12-feet above the floor as the huge framework carying the circular panorama within the circular building was slowly moved past the position of the viewing platform as an out-of-sight narrator read from a narative of the event being depicted. It was the forerunner of vaudeville and newsreels in letting people see something more realistic than the simple photo-less black and white news print of the day. At one time there were six or eight of these in the nation, but most of them were produced here and shipped out in several rail road cars, due to the concentration of European opera scene painters immigrated here.

Sad to say, the last of the buildings and their panoramas was demolished here in 1902 when they had been eclipsed by rudimentary films, and today only a large exhibit at the Milwaukee County Historical Society's free museum bears any memory of them.
http://www.milwaukeecountyhistsoc.org/programs.htm

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David Morrison
New Member

Posts: 46
From: Los Angeles, CA
Registered: Jul 2004


 - posted December 24, 2004 01:12 PM      Profile for David Morrison   Email David Morrison         Edit/Delete Post 
It's the same kind of panoramic exhibition, Jim.

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted December 26, 2004 11:32 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
If it's got 3d miniatures integrated with it, it's a diorama. If it goes in a circle, it's a cyclorama.

The Atlanta Cyclorama still houses a cyclorama of the Battle of the Atlanta:
http://roadsidegeorgia.com/site/cyclorama.html

I saw it decades ago when the diorama was still attached; apparently the diorama has been removed.

And there's a page of 'oramas, cycloramas especially, at
http://www.acmi.net.au/AIC/CYCLORAMA.html
There's a picture from the brochure of the Atlanta Cyclorama which gives an idea of the scale. If I remember from the visit years ago, the Atlanta Cyclorama was once taller, but it was cut down for some reason (possibly from when it was damaged).

That site also mentions the early panorama painting of life along the Mississippi: that thing got around more than a bus & truck company of Cats! Everywhere you read about 19th century theatrical exhibitions, sooner or later that thing comes to town.

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Jim Rankin
(Jim passed away in December 2006)
Posts: 123
From: Milwaukee, WI
Registered: Oct 2003


 - posted December 27, 2004 11:47 AM      Profile for Jim Rankin   Email Jim Rankin         Edit/Delete Post 
Bill Hooper gives a fine reference in the case of the ACMI (Australian Center for the Moving Image)'s page re Cycloramas and other 'amas', but it is strange that they never seem to touch upon the only large scale use of the term CYCLORAMA here, that meaning the curved, broad expanse of scenic material, usually a painted or tinted canvas, mounted to cover the entire back of a stage wall or just in front of it. This most often is the 'sky drop' with special lights cast upon it from both bottom ('cyc foots') and above ('cyc border'). CYCS in the American experience could sometimes be flown up out of the way, but often were stretched upon special curved frameworks that better immitated the expense of sky, and many of these were permanently mounted to the stage.

I remember the account of the founder of the Theatre Historical Society, the late Ben M. Hall, accidently turning on the covered cyc foots in the long-gone ROXY in New York City, and having to do some hurried fire fighting as the hot lights ignited the stage floor over them while in the down position. It appears that the makers of such learned from such experiences since even those foots installed in my 1941-built grade school had toggle switches that were pushed into the 'off' position as the lights were pushed down into their recess.

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William Hooper
Member

Posts: 82
From: Mobile, AL
Registered: Mar 2003


 - posted December 27, 2004 11:11 PM      Profile for William Hooper   Email William Hooper         Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
CYCS in the American experience could sometimes be flown up out of the way, but often were stretched upon special curved frameworks that better immitated the expense of sky, and many of these were permanently mounted to the stage.
A cyc is very much a standard, indespensable stage drop.
http://www.sapsis-rigging.com/Glossary.html
http://sewwhatinc.com/Custom_Sewing/Curtain_Types/Curtain_Types.htm#cyclorama

You can't do without it, because set pieces require some sort of "sky" or background behind them. You hit it with lights to make it daylight, nighttime, sunrise, the interior of a volcano, whatever. Usually they're very, very, light, barely blue, but sometimes white. Fancy ones are on pipe with the ends curve downstage, but since stage real estate is so valuable & a curved pipe takes up room that could be used for more linesets (& pipes are pretty much a permanent hang), it's most often just dropped from a straight pipe. Also, a straight pipe can then be used for something else if the cyc isn't needed for a show. The curve doesn't make a *whole* lot of difference in the land of make-believe.

They are part of the bare minimum of soft goods needed at a theatre, even one that only does bus & truck shows that bring their own stuff. Since they're pretty much mandatory, often used, & stay at the same location, they're usually part of the permanent hang. They're usually the last drop near the upstage wall, or in larger houses, there may be one black drape behind it.

http://www.tpactix.org/techstage.htm#1-Lineset
http://www.iatse-115.com/flatech.html
http://www.beaumont-tx-complex.com/julierogers.htm

Cycs are used in TV studios, too, very often for greenscreen. Since those spaces are different & there's often nothing like a "ground row", an upward-curved section at the floor is required.

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