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Theatre Research

Theatre Research

Mike has conducted extensive research into historic and culturally-significant theatres. This page provides links to select items of interest uncovered as part of Mike’s theatrical research activities.

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Technical Theatre

A work-in-progress, this section contains gathered research and analysis on technical theatre terms, patents, designs, and general information. The section on Fire / Safety Curtains seeks to dispel common rumours about their use, particularly in the UK.

Fire/Safety Curtain Research


Theatre Glossary

The glossary leans towards the technical, but also tries to bridge the gulf between North American and European technical stage terms Mike has come across having worked on both continents.

Click here for the Theatre Glossary.


Atmospheric Theatres

Akron Civic Theatre<br/>(Akron, Ohio)
Akron Civic Theatre
(Akron, Ohio)

Mike’s passion project is atmospheric theatres, a theatre style which flourished in the early 20th century.

Although many examples of atmospheric theatres exist around the world, the style was particularly popular in the United States during the 1920s and the US still has the largest and most prolific collection of extant atmospheric theatres.

Click here to read about Atmospheric Theatres.


The Vaudeville Stage

Many historic theatres across the United States still exist from the theatrical building boom in the early 20th century. Analysis of the design of these theatres, largely built for vaudeville (referred to as “music hall” in the United Kingdom) can help us understand the quirks of designs we see today.

Click here for the Vaudeville Dictionary.

Click here to read about the Vaudeville Stage.


Morgan, Walls & Clements Archive

The online archive of the Los Angeles-based architect firm Morgan, Walls & Clements, held by the Huntington Library Link opens in new window, contains many historic theatre buildings in Southern California, however the archive is not indexed. We have researched and collated key historic theatre resources from the online archive here.

Click here for the Morgan, Walls & Clements Archive Index.


Theatre Legends & Showpeople

John Eberson

Eberson was the pioneer of the Atmospheric theatre style as well as being an accomplished theatre architect in the United States during the early twentieth century.

Sid Grauman

** Not yet live, more to come soon! **

Sid Grauman was a master showman, who having learned his trade in San Francisco opened movie theatres in downtown Los Angeles, before moving to the up-and-coming area of Hollywood in the early 1920s.


General Links

“Parts of a Theatre Building” by Theatre Projects Link opens in new window
An online illustrated guide to the component parts of a theatre building.
“Creative Reuse of Movie Theaters” (2016) by Gary Meyer Link opens in new window
Thoughts on, and examples of, movie theatres and cinemas which have been converted for alternate uses.
“Theatres & Auditoriums” (1949) by Harold Burris-Meyer & Edward C. Cole Link opens in new window
Late 1930s and 1940s thoughts on the design of theatres and auditoria.
“Theatres & Picture Houses” (1916) by Arthur S. Meloy Link opens in new window
A practical treatise on the proper planning and construction of such buildings and containing useful suggestions, rules and data for the benefit of architects, prospective owners, etc (content may not be available in all countries due to copyright restrictions).
The development of scenic art and stage machinery Link opens in new window
A very useful and comprehensive catalog of references held by the New York Public Library relating to the history and development of stage machinery.
“The theater designs of C. Howard Crane” (1992) by Lisa Maria DiChiera Link opens in new window
A thesis on prolific theatre architect C. Howard Crane’s work (University of Pennsylvania).
“Manual of Safety Requirements in Theatres and Other Places of Public Entertainment” (1934) published by the UK Home Office Link opens in new window
Guidelines for safety requirements in theatres (see section above on Fire/Safety Curtains for more details).
History of Fire Safety Legislation (UK) Link opens in new window
A great amount of information on fire safety legislation in the UK, including a section covering places of public entertainment.
“Stage Lighting for Schools, Colleges and Technical Institutes” (1939)
A 24-page pamphlet published by Strand Lighting (UK) in 1939. (2.9MB PDF)
Kliegl Bros. 1930 Catalogue
Courtesy klieglbros.com Link opens in new window (57MB PDF)
“Stage Specs” (1999 edition)
A Technical Guide to Theatres in the United States (33MB PDF)
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Text copyright © 2017-2024 Mike Hume / Historic Theatre Photos.

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