A Civic Theatre member, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote to me with the following movie-watching memory:
“In 1982 Debra Winger and Richard Gere were in their prime, as were my husband and I. The difference between us was they heated up the big screen starring in An Officer and a Gentleman, while we huddled together watching them from cramped seats in the old Nelson Civic Theatre. It was a good thing we bundled in our down parkas because during this particular January cold snap, the theatre’s rickety heating system strained to keep the packed house warm,” she wrote.
“I don’t recall much about the movie, except that the stars engaged in a torrid love affair. During one particularly steamy scene, when you could have heard a pin drop in the theatre, the audience was interrupted by the curiously loud sound of my husband sloooowly unzipping his parka.”
We’ve come a long way in a year — comfy new seats, great sound, crystal clear digital projection — but heating and cooling are still on the rickety side, particularly apparent during our recent heat wave. Steamy? Yes. One audience member commented on our cleverness in mimicking the atmospheric conditions in the movie Mud, set in the Louisiana swamp.
Audience members have been good sports about our steamy summer theatre, remembering that the Civic never did have air conditioning and rationalizing that, having waited 77 years so far, it’s not unreasonable to wait a little longer — especially considering how far we’ve come.
In fact, you could say we’ve been full steam ahead this past year. For example, our original goal for membership was 250. And then it was 500. And then it was 750. By the time this column runs, I expect the number to be more than 2,000. Wow.
This presents an interesting challenge as we approach our first annual general meeting (September 22) with a constitutional requirement for 10 per cent member attendance. When we drafted our constitution it didn’t seem a stretch when we thought we might have 250 members! Now, we’ll need 200 members turning out to see us on our way into year two.
I’m not really worried: based on our volunteer list (300+), audience attendance (we’re trumping reporting records throughout the Civic’s history), fundraising success (we beat our Community Challenge target by $30,000) and the level of community enthusiasm (over the moon), I think we’ll make it. But to sweeten the pot, we’ll run a film after the AGM for our member attendees — and we’ll throw in the popcorn. Watch for info about the AGM beginning later this month. Tell your friends — no need to keep this one zipped. And if you’ve been putting off buying that membership, buy one now!
(Steamy) summer films continue: on Thursday catch Frances Ha, an off-beat film about a New York woman who takes her foibles for a turn on the dance floor. Friday to Sunday and Cheap Tuesday we have two movies — which is great, as we are continually challenged by film distributors who insist we show only one film for the run, as was the case last week with Despicable Me 2.
Starting Friday, Red 2, an action comedy with an all-star cast including Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Lee Byung-hun, Anthony Hopkins, and Helen Mirren, alternates showings with The Conjuring, which tells the true story of Ed and Lorraine Warren, world-renowned paranormal investigators called to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse.
Temperatures next week will be a little more moderate, so to achieve that steamy quality you may want that parka — or, in the time-honoured tradition of cinema steaminess, the back row. Regardless, there’s always a warm welcome at the Civic.
Anne DeGrace is president of the Nelson Civic Theatre Society.