Dawu Theater 大武戲院

Looks like an abandoned warehouse but this is actually the former Dawu Theater.

I stumbled upon the remains of Dawu Theater 大武戲院 while on a bicycle tour of southern Taiwan in 2015. Located in the small town of Dàwǔ 大武, it was one of approximately 36 theaters operating in Taitung 台東 in the cinematic heyday of the 1960s and 70s, all of which are now abandoned or destroyed. This particular theater was in business from 1968 to 1983 and allegedly accommodated as many as 1,200 patrons, earning it the title of nánbàtiān 南霸天, or “southern tyrant”, for how it dominated the industry in the southernmost part of the county. Hardly anything remains after three decades of exposure that would identify Dawu Theater apart from a small sign in the antechamber.

I didn’t know it at the time but this was once the local movie theater!

In a curious twist of fate I did not know the Chinese characters for movie theater at the time—but I would learn them the very next day after chancing upon the very last of Taitung’s old theaters. As such, I had no idea this was a theater until I went through my photos a year later.

Dawu Theater from the streets of this small coastal town in Taitung.

This particular piece is actually an adaptation of a small part of the full account of my day. I have embarked upon a more dedicated study of the many old theaters of Taiwan and wanted this one to have its own entry in the catalog despite the paucity of photos and information.

South Taiwan Ride 2015 南台灣自行車旅行

This series chronicles a multi-day bicycle trip around the deep south of Taiwan, specifically from Tainan 台南 to Taitung 台東 in June 2015. Along the way I visited many places in Kaohsiung 高雄 and especially Pingtung 屏東. A lot of what I saw and experienced hasn't been written about in English very much so I've taken some extra time to provide background information to better contextualize what's in the many photographs in this series. Altogether this is a complete trip journal clocking in at around 20,000 words from start to finish!

  1. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Tainan to Pingtung City
  2. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City
  3. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Pingtung City to Fangliao
  4. Chaozhou Liu House 潮州劉厝
  5. Chaozhou Jiukuaicuo Catholic Church 潮州九塊厝天主堂
  6. Xinpi Machine Gun Fort 新埤反空降機槍碉堡
  7. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Fangliao to Manzhou
  8. Fangliao Factory 枋寮工廠
  9. Jiahe Railway Tunnel 嘉和遮體
  10. Tsai Ing-wen Old House 蔡英文古厝
  11. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Manzhou to Dawu
  12. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Dawu to Taitung City
  13. Dawu Theater 大武戲院
  14. South Taiwan Ride 2015: Taitung City
  15. Taitung Chinese Association 台東中華會館
  16. Taitung Datong Theater 台東大同戲院
  17. Fuyou Building 富有大樓

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