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A long-standing reproach is about to be removed, appropriately enough, in the year that Christohurch. will stand in the full glare of the limelight as an Exhibition City. In place of an old-fasdiioned theatre that was out-of-date before many present-day aanuse-'jnent-seekens had bean pearmitted to wituees stage entertainments, we are to have two modern houses of eaitertalnment. The Canterbury Hall ie now being converted into Hie Majesty's Theatre, t^nd a new building is to be erected opposite the present site of the Theatre Royal. The highest interests'of the publio jure so directly Affected by the manner in which its entertainment' is provided, that' **n many countries the municipalities have taken upon themselves the duty of catering for the peopled artistic necessities. .The Iroquois disaster, in Chicago, to quote a notable instance,--showß how scandalously private enterprise Iras abused its privileges, and un- ' fler the cdrcrumstances, it is not to be wondered at that year by year moro •nd more municipal theatres are being built-." Palmerston North a-nd Invercargill provide evidence of the anoveinent in this colony. Undoubtedly the people can best ensure having their safety, convenience and general interests thoroughly safeguarded by themselves . undertaking, .through a representative institution, tflie construction and management of theatres. However,^ in Christchurch, private companies are still, permitted fio retain the responsibilities thus involved. This fact by no .means relieves th© City Council from its obligations, for it still has the duty and privilege of exercising a fairly effective control. In matters theatrical, the first oonsidea-ation is safety in time of panio arising from fire, earthquake or similar causes. Numerous exits, co a/rranged that a full house can be empti«3d in a few minutes., are essential, and it is just as necessary there eJhould be an effective water supply, and that' the curtain dividing the stage from the body of the building should be, constructed of some noninflammable material, such ac or steel, to prevent any fire that may occur on the stage from spreading to the auditorium. There should '" be no half-way in taking' these precautions, and modern architects hare shown that it is quite practicable to so ajrramgie the exits of a theatre and other matters as to reduce "to a minimum the danger from fire. The question of cost. Should not, however, be permitted to enter into any aspect of a matter that, if neglected, mfcy result in irreparable disaster. Another aspect that requires olose con--eideration is the matter of seating accommodation. Any pea-son paying for entrance to the theatre, whether to the dress circle, stalls or pit, should be entitled to a seat where there is* opportunity to view the performance without any chance of overcrowding. The patterns of seats to be used should be closely scrutinised by the By-laws Ccjmmittee, which should insist upon a higjh standard of furniture being adopt- . cd. Each seat should be numbered, and in the matter .of early door charges' it efliculd be stipulated that any person paying an extra fee should be enti tiled to reserve his or her _seat. Such a. plan would do away with^the unseemly crowding outside the .theatre doors. / There are many other points which might be mentioned a© marking the difference between the old class oi playhouse and a really modern theatre, but one other needs! special mention. The convenience and comfort of those whose profession is practically a life behind the scenes are entitled to a good deal more consideration than , they have received in the past, and the new theatres- should * possess not oniy ample stage accommodation, but well-fitted dressing-rooms, very different from the kennel-like boxes that have hitherto been permitted to do duty for something better. Tb?e citfy's by-laws have attempted to make provision for these rrfatters, but they are not thoroughly comprehensive, and it rests with the Council to. take the necessary steps to ensure that the best interests of players andpublio alike shall be safeguarded.

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Bibliographic details

The Star. SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1906. THE CITY'S THEATRES., Star, Issue 8639, 2 June 1906

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The Star. SATURDAY, JUNE 2, 1906. THE CITY'S THEATRES. Star, Issue 8639, 2 June 1906