TagsCinema, City Hall, History, theatre, Urban Planning
FOTO-FOTO: Capitol Theatre
Emerging from City Hall MRT station along North Bridge Road is a familiar affair for many. On one side, St Andrew’s Cathedral; on the other, a building site, much like any other in Singapore today. Its metal hoardings were only recently erected. Yet even before these walls went up, for years few passersby seemed to pause and register the squat, cream building within.
This was the neo-classical Capitol Theatre, Singapore’s first single-hall, large screen theatre, which opened on 22 May 1930 to great fanfare in the press. In her illustrious past, she hosted the earliest “talkie” motion pictures, cabaret performances and technicolour Hollywood fare.
On 29 December 1998 the theatre closed its doors. It has sat dormant a fitful 13 years and counting, after initial plans to convert it into an arts and design centre floundered. But now the site finally stirs with the whirrs and bangs of earth diggers. The Capitol area is “undergoing a major transformation”, the URA has announced, and will become an arts-retail-condo development.
Photographer Philipp Aldrup, who snuck into the theatre last October, seeks to remember “the sounds, smells, the laughter” that once filled the great hall.
“For decades it was filled with stories, with films from Asia and from abroad,” he says. “It became a big part of how people in Singapore saw the world, what they dreamt of and where these dreams could take them. But how about the dreams of people today? Have people been asked what they dream of, for their city?”
Images Philipp Aldrup
Words David Ee