"Beyond the Bubble": Explore Salem

College Colloquium: IDS-101-15

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Elsinore Theater

The Elsinore Theatre is one of the main attractions of Salem, Oregon. It entertains not only the residents of Salem, but also the residents of the entire state. People from all over Oregon come to watch comedy shows, plays, and classic and silent films at Elsinore. When Elsinore first opened in May 1926, it attracted everyone to come watch films because most families didn’t have televisions. After going through many changes in ownership, no one paid much attention to it anymore. In the 1970s, the Elsinore Theatre risked closure, but a group of citizens created the “Save the Elsinore Committee.” Consultants said the only way the Elsinore Theatre would be restored, would be if the Salem community made it grandeur like it used to be. Finally, in 1986, on Elsinore’s 60th birthday, the Save the Elsinore Committee was given $130,000 to restore the theatre. After the addition of many amenities to the theatre, it still stands to this day and is as successful as it was in the 1920s.

When I visited the Elsinore Theatre, I was intrigued by everything outside and inside the building. The first thing I noticed as I walked up to the theater was the window of the administrative office, which was plastered with posters for many upcoming events. It was exciting to see that so many shows, musicals and other performances would be coming to Salem. Amongst those posters was a notice that said the Elsinore Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 17th, 1994.  No wonder, the architecture inside the theatre was extremely detailed. It reminded me of the castle in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The lighting was dim and ascended to the balcony seats on the left and right hand side of the theatre. Old Shakespearean-themed paintings covered the swalls and beautiful glass paintings illuminated the main entrance. Inside the theatre hall, gargantuan arches look as if they were made out of marble (its plaster!) reveal detailed carving. Most importantly, the screen was enormous! The theatre seats 1,200 people and always has some hundred people come to every show and sometimes has a full house. This made me realize that Salem’s community and other citizens of Oregon are really keeping the theater alive!

Watching a movie at Elsinore is surely a great experience since it’s not your average movie theatre. I watched a movie called Warren Miller’s: Flow State, a movie for ski-lovers. Even though I am not an avid skier, I was curious to see what kind of crowd would be there. The crowd was full of people of different ages. There were excited children, teenagers, young adults, and some seniors as well. As it turns out, it wasn’t just a movie. A speaker came out on stage and talked about Warren Miller and what we would be seeing in the short film. During the intermission, there was a raffle that the audience could participate in to win prizes. People were cheering and getting involved with the speaker. I felt comfortable in the exciting environment. Although our generation is more interested in watching mainstream movies, Elsinore attracts crowds of all ages by playing classic films, putting on musicals, and different types of entertaining shows.

Elsinore also offers Willamette students an opportunity to be a part of the community. The administrative office has a bookshelf full of applications, pamphlets, and advertisements for upcoming shows. There is a volunteer application, which is a great opportunity for Willamette students to help out the Elsinore Theatre. Volunteers are required to clean up, monitor the theatre, be an office assistant, distribute posters, usher people, and collect tickets.

Works cited:
“Historic Elsinore Theatre.” Historic Elsinore Theatre. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2012.

By Taneesh Sra, 10/20/12

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