By Erica James
Forbes Magazine recently named Scranton as one of the fastest dying cities in America. With tremendous staff cuts in the fire department, teacher strikes, church closings, and the constant chatter of recession, it’s no shocker an economic cloud of doom is hanging over the city. On the other hand, walking around the courthouse square on a Friday or Saturday night gives off the only impression that Scranton is thriving culturally. With venues like The Manhattan Room Project, The Electric Theater Company, and art festivals such as The Scranton Jazz Festival, First Night. and the first time Scranhattan Festival, some consider the city to be in a cultural transition, or revolution if you will.
Speaking of new venues, when was the last time anybody heard of a revival movie house? In early October, Scranton High School junior, and executive director Connor O’Brian, plans to open Vintage Theater, a non profit art venue dedicated to the showing of classic vintage films in downtown Scranton. The theater, which will open early October, continues this underlying cultural revival in Scranton. “The revival going on is really big,” says Connor, “Scranton has never had a revival movie house before, and this will give the community another great thing to do.”
Besides showing some of his favorite films, such as Attack of the Giant Leeches, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman, 39 Steps, and My Pal Trigger, a vintage cartoon will be played before each film. Don’t worry, there will be plenty Betty Boop. Hitchcock, Audrey Hepburn, and Huckleberry Finn will not be left out either.
Connor also plans to “house any kind of art possible.” On August 31, Phoenix Cuts, an innovative hair studio, hosted a benefit show featuring Johann and The Gutenburgs and Girls Galore. In early November the theater plans to bring The Rare Birds Show, an improve group, up from Philadelphia to perform with the University of Scranton Improv Players.
Connor also saw a need for the film aspect in the city. “With the economic status a lot of families cannot afford the big theater, popcorn and drinks for the whole family. Vintage Theater will be affordable and guarantee a good time.” Family is also an important building block for the success of the theater. Connor’s sister, Maggie O’Brian, a member of his “his unofficial board of directors,” has been helping raise money and find venue locations. Directing another non-profit venue should be no trouble for Ms. O’Brian. She is the director of the Riverfront Project and “has been doing non-profits for years,” says Connor. The team has been working together to raise money through benefit shows, coupons via the Bonton, and downtown rummage sales.
To help support Vintage Theater, or for more information, visit the site at www.myspace.com/downtownvintage.