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 “ ” (Little Robin Hood) directed by (  旁) starring and   .  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.

Below are two recent photos of this area taken from Jalan Tiga Ratus. The first photo is from Google Streetview (probably taken a couple of years ago) and the second photo was taken by me this morning. As you can see, a great deal of construction is going on.

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.


Unknown said...

My Mrs used to stay in Siak Kuan Rd Mata Ikan village.

I have fond memories of walking in all the way from Upp Changi Rd and passing all the interesting looking shops along Somapah Rd.

I tried looking through their family photos for pictures of the area but sadly could not unearth anything of significant.

naheuy said...

You'll be delighted to know that Somapah road has linked back to upp changi road east, and that the new SUTD is slated to be developed there (already under construction)!

Lam Chun See said...

Yes. I saw parts of the 'new' Somapah Rd.

agongkia said...

The left side of the screen is the Ladies and the right side of the scene is the Gents.When the cinema is crowded,I ever pee on the spot without going to the toilet because it was hard to go to the toilet as many would sit on the floor in front of the screen as the seats were fully occupied.
Urine will slowly flow down..Its normal at that time and many boys did that.I am sorry.