Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Emery Theatre Revival

This past weekend I was invited to take a tour of the Emery Theatre in Cincinnati.  I jumped at the chance!  If you are wondering what's so exciting about touring a theatre, let me give you a little background information.  The Emery Theatre was bequeathed to the city of Cincinnati by philanthropist Mary Emery in 1911.  The Emery was home to the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra until 1936.  The Emery Theatre is what is known as an "acoustically pure" performance venue, and many great artists have graced the stage here, such as Bette Davis, Leopold Stokowski, Anna Pavlova, George Gershwin, John Phillips Sousa, and many more.  When you look at the pictures in the slide show below you will see a great old brick wall that sits high above the stage.  Everyone who performed at the Emery signed this wall.  I didn't find any famous names when I took the tour, but then again, I didn't take too much time looking because heights make me a bit nervous. 
The Emery Theatre is a sister building to New York's Carnegie Hall, and for good reason.  Aside from being acoustically pure, and being one of the first concert halls in our country to have unobstructed views for all seats, the Theatre is majestic and beautiful.  Even now in disrepair you can see the beauty waiting to be brought back to life.  The Emery Theatre has been a "dark theatre" for over ten years, so she is in need of some tender loving care.  I remember visits to the Emery when I was in high school and college for old black and white movies (accompanied by tunes on the Mighty Wurlitzer), and for concerts.  One of our favorite bands, Over the Rhine, used to play their annual Christmas concert at the Emery, and we went each year.  I always loved the feeling of stepping back in time as we entered the old theater. 
When I read about The Requiem Project, I was so happy that the lights would come back on in this great theatre.  Tara Lindsey Gordon & Tina Manchise have started the Requiem Project to bring the Emery back to it's former glory.  On Sunday they spoke with passion about their grand plans for the building.  They are emotionally, physically & financially invested in this project, and their enthusiasm has been contagious.  They have partnered with many groups, individuals, art lovers, performers, architects, historians, artists, photographers, volunteers, and everyday citizens of Cincinnati to make this happen.  According to the information on their facebook page, "the Requiem Project is a 501(c)-3 not-for-profit arts company whose mission is to re-establish an acoustically-pure historic treasure, the Emery, and transform the theatre into a unique venue that defines itself as a space that encourages creative growth, fosters a multitude of opportunities for artistic collaborations, and offers arts-based educational opportunities through dance, music, theatre, visual, and interdisciplinary artistic expressions."
In a nutshell, when the dream becomes reality and the Emery is open once more you will find a wide variety of programming: theater, dance, music, film, education and more.  The developers say that their vision is to use "every square inch" that they can in the building, and to bring the community together in this project.
How can you help?  If you'd like to volunteer you can contact them at:  Or if you'd like to donate you can do so on the Requiem Project website.
Tara & Tina began this journey in 2008, and now they are ready to share the space with the public.  There is a rather grand preview event planned on 11.11.11 to show everyone what the Emery looks like now, and to give a sneak peek of what she could look like in years to come.  On November 11, 2011 there will be a concert given by Over the Rhine, the renovation plans will be shared, Michael Wilson will be showing his photography, Madcap will entertain with their puppets, Exhale Dance Tribe will show us their moves, musicians from the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra will perform, guests can take tours of the building, and more!  Everyone who is performing at this event is generously donating their time to support the Emery, so the cost of tickets for the event will go towards the Requiem Project.  Attending this event is not only a great way to support the revival of a wonderful old gem in our city, but it is also a perfect date night!  The tickets are a little expensive for our family on a budget (starting at $75), but we consider it a donation for a great cause.  We are all for supporting the arts in our community, and the Emery holds a special place in our hearts.  For more information on the 11.11.11 event or to purchase tickets click here.
I want to say thank you to my new friends at the Requiem Project for inviting me to take part in the tour on Sunday, I had a fabulous time exploring the building, remembering my college years and envisioning the future.  My pictures will give you all a glimpse of the Emery...

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