ISLAND THEATRE MEGI by Yoichiro Yoda is an artwork that I had been anticipating and it didn’t let me down. It is basically an old storehouse that has been converted into an old style theatre. The outside has signage that is similar to an old theatre, as well as a small box office. It is an experience that you have to do in person as no words can really tell you what it feels like to be there. I do feel that some people may not like it as much as I do but the art evokes strong nostalgic feelings in me and that is what made it great.
When you enter the front doors you are in the lobby of the theatre. It is a nice open space with text and paintings on the walls. I believe Yoichiro Yoda chose many of the film names himself as an homage to the films he loves. There were a lot of throw backs to the old silent movie days such as Charlie Chaplan and Felix the Cat. You can still see a lot of contemporary actors such as Jack Nicholson and Harrison Ford but most of the paintings and drawings are of people from the 70s and older.
The one thing that did strike me was the small concessions stand in the lobby. It was really small but they had popcorn and it made me wonder what would happen if they actually opened it up. I would have bought some popcorn and spent an entire afternoon there if I could. When you are ready, you can head up the stairs and into the theatre. The stairs themselves were really interesting with more artwork along the walls. Mr. Yoda really outdid himself to do everything, assuming he did all of the artwork and design on his own.
There is a small room linking the stairs to the theatre itself, in order to keep sounds isolated. When you enter the theatre, a cold air hits you from the strong air conditioners, but the theatre itself was amazing. There are 2 levels and when I entered there was a couple enjoying a Charlie Chaplan movie. The couple was in the upper level and I made my way to the lower level and just enjoyed the end of the movie quietly. I wanted to take many pictures but I didn’t want to ruin the movie for the couple as I felt I walked in on them, and it was the middle of the movie.
Once the movie ended, I walked around a bit and took photos of the theatre, but I mainly absorbed everything and enjoyed it a lot. After a short intermission the next movie started, which was the documentary “Last Days of 42nd Street”, about an old theatre on 42nd street in New York. The movie itself was really interesting as it showed the end the old theatre era in New York and the big move of the 42nd street theatre itself. I really wish I could have enjoyed the movie completely but I was disturbed by several things.
When the Last Days of 42nd Street” started, the couple left and I could hear a little rustling downstairs. Soon enough, a family came in and my peace was disturbed. I had no problems with the family coming in, but they really took over the place as if they owned it and really annoyed me. There were a couple young girls and they didn’t have any manners, nor did their mother/grandmother. I was quietly watching the movie and the all came in talking with each other and they sat all around me. One of the daughters just threw her backpack on the seat next to mine and sat behind me. No “sorry” and no “excuse me” were mentioned and I just accepted it as I just wanted to watch the movie.
The grandfather, at least I think it was the grandfather, came in and really disturbed the peace. Enjoying an artwork is one thing but to walk around and make a big huff about it is another, especially when a movie is playing. He walked in and uttered a bunch of stuff to the family from across the room and walked all over. He kept humming and hawing at everything and exclaiming in a loud voice at how amazed he was. I was happy that he was amazed by the theatre but I was trying to watch a movie! The unbelievable part was the fact that he had to inspect everything, and I mean everything. There is a small “projection room” in the back which is really just a storage room; there is no projector in there. There is a sign, at eye level, on the door that says do not enter in both a picture and in Japanese. This guy was Japanese and he still ignored the sign and opened up the door to the storage room to see what was there. Shocked is one thing, but I was really annoyed at how disrespectful he was to the theatre. If he wasn’t Japanese, I can give him a pass for not being able to read, but that was pretty much the last straw as I had to leave soon after that.
The ISLAND THEATRE MEGI is a great place and I really wanted to spend more time there. I didn’t have the luxury of time when I was on the islands so I had to keep an eye on how long I stayed there. I was overheated from the summer heat at that time so it was great to spend 20 minutes or so in the theatre enjoying the air conditioning and the movies. If it wasn’t for a few people disturbing the peace, I would have loved it even more. I would still love to return and I’m sure the theatre is usually pretty quiet, so if you are there, you must visit this wonderful theatre.
- ISLAND THEATRE MEGI (Official Setouchi Triennale Site)
- Yoichiro Yoda (Official Site)