Beigang Theater, Oblique View

Beigang Theater 北港劇場

Beigang Theater 北港劇場 in Běigǎng 北港, Yúnlín 雲林, is among the finest and most well-preserved of Taiwan’s remaining Japanese colonial era theaters. Built in 1937 with investment from a local businessman by the name of Tsai Yu-Hu 蔡裕斛 (whose old house is also worth a look), this three storey theater featured a revolving stage, seating for 800 guests, and simple western-style facade with a trace of the Baroque Revival architecture popular at the time. It was not only a cinema—Taiwanese opera, glove puppet shows, musical concerts, wedding banquets, and other events were also held inside. The theater went out of business in 1988 and was converted for use as a department store and restaurant for some time thereafter. Nowadays it is apparently still in use as a pool hall and, inexplicably, a kidney dialysis center, but I saw no evidence of this when I visited in the summer of 2017.

Beigang Theater is still in great shape despite being repurposed and disused for the better part of three decades.
A closer look at the front of the old theater reveals several minor details. Note the character in the center of the ring at top; this is the family name of the original investor. Also note the mounting points for four square plates; these would have once displayed the name of the theater.

Beigang was formerly home to four theaters of which this is the second. For this reason it was generally known as New Theater 新戲園 back in the day. The nearby Dàfù Theater 大復戲院, which dates back to 1927, was designated a heritage building in 2009 and is presently undergoing a costly restoration process. Despite its obvious historic and cultural value Beigang Theater itself is not protected by law, and I’ve not seen anything that would suggest this process is moving forward. I’d guess this has more to do with resistance by the current owners than a lack of interest on behalf of the Ministry of Culture 文化部. For an excellent overview of theater history in Beigang I recommend this post (in Chinese) and accompanying video by Yú Fū 魚夫 (in mixed Taiwanese and Chinese).

An oblique look at the old theater in the cramped streets on the north side of Beigang.
Around back at the old Beigang Theater.

Somewhat surprisingly I haven’t found too many posts about this classic theater. For vintage photos and more information in Chinese try following these links: here, here, and here.

Taiwan Summer Road Trip 2017 台灣中南部機車之旅

  1. Xizhou Theater 溪州戲院
  2. Ershui Assembly Hall 二水公會堂
  3. Hsin Kang Theater 新港戲院
  4. Liujiao Brick Kiln 六腳磚窯
  5. Shuangxikou Brick Kiln 雙溪口磚窯
  6. Xiluo Yisheng Theater 西螺一生戲院
  7. Jiuqiong Village Tobacco Barn 九芎村菸樓
  8. Xiluo Bridge 西螺大橋
  9. Beigang Theater 北港劇場
  10. Postcards From Xiluo 西螺明信片
  11. Dongping Tobacco Barn 東平菸樓
  12. Yixin Vocational High School 益新工商職業學校
  13. Nanyun Gas Station 南雲加油站
  14. Postcards From Ershui 二水明信片
  15. Dalin Xinxing Theater 大林新興戲院
  16. Kezikeng New Community 柯子坑新社區
  17. Lingxiao Temple 凌霄殿
  18. Taiwan Summer Road Trip 2017: Taichung to Nantou
  19. Puli Tuberculosis Sanatorium 埔里肺結核療養所

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