Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Priscilla Beach Theatre Restoration, Priscilla Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Restoration work continues at Priscilla Beach Theatre for the grand re-opening in summer of 2015 with "Fiddler on the Roof."  My previous posts about the restoration are here and here and here.

This section is the backstage and prop storage area. It required some new poured concrete foundation work and concrete footings.

The new poured concrete floor.

Here's a good example of how water can rot away a wood structure if a leak is not repaired. There was a large square corner post here but decades of water intrusion completely rotted the wood away.

Meanwhile, back in the main audience area, work continues also.  The vertical posts in the center are temporary during this phase of work. The wall at right is almost completely redone.

Much of the sub floor structure is dry and sound.

And what isn't sound is cut away and replaced.

One of the perks of ownership is that you can drive your own tractor to help out with the restoration as Bob Malone demonstrates above.

The stage area.

I just love that wood ceiling.

Looking down on center stage. (Audience area to the right, prop storage area at upper left).

Looking down on the stage, the vertical brightly lighted area is where the rotten corner post was that I mentioned earlier.

Climbing into the upper reaches above the stage area it is quiet. I am struck by the sense of years gone by. All the wood surfaces are solid and undamaged up here. The scent of aged wood seems flavored with the sweat, tears, and makeup of productions gone by. Can a theatre have a soul?  Does it reside in the walls, and floor, and beams, and rafters?  The decades of time and thousands of voices raised both in speech and song, the clapping hands, the breathless pause following a heartfelt monologue - all would have been lost had this structure been torn down.

How easy it would have been to simply bulldoze the site and rebuild - less expensive, too. Lost would have been the memories of thousands of young actors and actresses who dared to reach for their dreams to perform here. Dreams that I can feel as a wander through this quiet structure - just a hint of the voices and footfalls, the audiences shuffling in, the anticipation of the curtain to rise by both the performers and the audience, the quickened heartbeat as some excited young actors/actresses peek through the curtain to see if a special loved one is in the audience.

One cannot replace those memories by building a new structure. Yes, one could make new memories but, I for one, appreciate the choice that owners and guardians Bob and Sandy Malone made to restore rather than destroy this piece of Americana.

And the answer is - yes - a theatre can have a soul. This one certainly does.

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