Monday, November 05, 2012
Open-air theatre at Somapah Village, 1952
Among the (year) 1952 photos that Joe Elliott sent me, are these gems of an open-air theatre which I believe should be at Somapah Village.
This is the external view of the theatre. The title of the movie, as far as I can make out is “小 罗 宾 汉” (Little Robin Hood) directed by 梁 深 (王 字 旁） starring 羽 马 and 佳 缨 . Anyone heard of these names?
This is the entrance “to all seats”; Adult – 50 cts, Children – 30 cts.
Seating and screen area. The Gents is on the left of the screen.
This is the Projection box.
This photo shows the outside of the theatre. To the right of this photo is the open air theatre and in front - left to right - is Changi Rd. The road straight ahead leads to Mata Ikan.
This is Joe’s hand-drawn map of the area.
After studying the last photo and Joe’s sketch; and comparing it with the 1963 street directory maps of this area (below), I have come to the conclusion that this open-air theatre was located at what was then the Somapah Village; near or at the junction of Jalan Tiga Ratus and Upper Changi Road to be exact. The road leading to Maka Ikan is Somapah Road.
Here is a 2007 map of this area for comparison. Parts of Somapah Road remain.
In my book Good Morning Yesterday, I gave a detail description (page 15) of the open-air theatre that I used to go to in the 1950s. This was the South Country Theatre (南国戏院) located at, what is today, the Raffles Institution in Bishan. Thanks to Joe’s photos, more details have come back. For example, the location of the toilets to the right and left of the screen were just like in Joe’s photo. I also recall, now, how we were quite fascinated by the beam of bright light that was projected from the box office over our heads and onto the screen.
As I did not have a photo of the South Country Theatre, I had to search the National Archives’ Picas data base and I managed to find this 1986 photo which I then used in page 132 of my book. According to the description given in the Picas website, this open-air theatre was located at Somapah Village. Could this be the very same theatre in Joe’s photos – albeit an upgraded’ version? Your views please.