Theatre Royal

Queen's Road, Central,
Hong Kong

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The Theatre Royal was part of the facilities of the old City Hall ,which was opened on 3rd November, 1869, by the Duke of Edinburgh. The old City Hall was situated in Central on the waterfront before the reclamation of land. The first programme of the Theatre Royal was a drama performed by the Amateur Dramatic Corps. of Hong Kong. The theatre had a 500-seat auditorium with stalls and balcony. It served as a venue for stage performances, concerts and boxing matches etc. In the late-1800’s, some performances had stated in its advertisements that ‘Ladies unaccompanied by Gentlemen cannot be admitted.’

On 16th October, 1897, short films were shown at the theatre. An advertisement published on 15th October, 1897 by The China Mail had the programme of the event.

‘The latest improved projecting machine in which the vibration so noticeable and trying to the eyes is now entirely eliminated. “VIEWS OF THE QUEEN’S DIAMOND JUBILEE IN LONDON” will be the special feature of the entertainment. The following interesting scenes will also be shown:–
A dispute between Bicyclists.
The 'Bolero,’ Spanish Dance.
Place de la Concorde, Paris.
French Cavalry returning from Drill.
Love Scene-Columbine and Clown.
Arrival of the Czar in Paris.
Pleasure Boats on the Seine.
Children playing on the Seashore.
The Nurse Maid.
The Lightning Artist.
Arrival of the Express Train.
The Magician.
Place de la Republique, Paris.
Workmen leaving a Factory.
The Haunted Castle.
A Troubled Dream, and a series of pictures depicting the “QUEEN’S JUBLILEE PROCESSION IN LONDON”.
The Theatre will be illuminated between each view.'

The programme repeated on 20th October, 1897. According to advertisements, short films of the Coronation of King Edward and others were shown on 14th, 15th, and 16th October, 1902. Another programme of short films were shown on 3rd October, 1903.

Whether any other programmes of films were also shown at the theatre is pending further research. The theatre underwent an extensive renovation in 1903 and re-opened in August. During the renovation, the floor of the stalls had been raised six inches so as to afford a better view of the stage, and the dress circle had been remodeled. The acoustics of the auditorium had also been improved, with the effect of confining the voices to the theatre. The auditorium had been fitted up with electric lights and rows of bulbs had been placed around the dome and the dress circle. An exhaust fan had also been installed in the top of the dome.

The Theatre Royal closed before part of the old City Hall was demolished in 1933 and a new headquarter building of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation was built on the site.
The remaining part of the old City Hall was demolished after the end of the war, and the Hong Kong headquarter building of the Bank of China was built on the site.

Contributed by Raymond Lo

Recent comments (view all 1 comments)

Suwanti on May 29, 2011 at 4:45 am

The photograph is wrong.

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