Xiluo Yisheng Theater 西螺一生戲院

Xīluó 西螺 is justifiably famous for its eponymous Japanese colonial era theater, located close to the architectural wonders of Yánpíng Old Street 延平老街, but this small town on the south bank of the sluggish Zhuóshuǐ River 濁水溪 was once home to two more theaters. Almost no mention of these other theaters can be found except in this news report about a local painter—but while browsing around satellite view on Google Maps I managed to locate Yīshēng Theater 一生戲院 (literally “Lifetime Theater”).

Identifying Yisheng Theater has not been straight-forward. Most of the characters on the facade are missing, introducing considerable ambiguity. A closer examination of the metal brackets that once secured the mystery characters was not conclusive. Both sources cited above cite three theaters in town: the famous Xiluo Theater and two lesser known theaters, Yuǎndōng Theater 遠東戲院 (“Far East Theater”) and Yisheng. Initially I figured this must be Yuandong Theater, for the pattern of corrosion and placement of the metal brackets suggest a full-sized character in the first position, but I was wrong. At an exhibition of the photography of Lee Kai-Ming 李開明 at Huashan Creative Park in November 2017 I noticed he had identified a completely different building as Yuandong Theater. By a process of elimination—assuming there were indeed only three theaters in town—this must be the Yisheng Theater. I later confirmed this with a local resident.

Without any business records to consult I am left guessing about when this theater was built and later abandoned. I’d guess this theater dates back to the 1960s or 1970s and probably went out of business in the 1990s like many other standalone theaters in central Taiwan. Evidently it was converted for use as a gambling den or seedy karaoke bar at some point, for the interior has been renovated to remove all traces of the projection room, ticket booth, and other fixtures of movie theater design. I wandered around inside for a little while but there was nothing to see—it is merely a dark and hollow shell, not at all interesting. Well, they can’t all be cool, but this one is on the rental market. Anyone fancy a use for this ugly old theater in Xiluo?

One last note: while the theater was open and accessible on my first visit it was closed the second time I stopped by to confirm the name.

Throughout the summer of 2017 I undertook a series of scooter trips around central and southern Taiwan, eventually visiting Nántóu 南投, Changhua 彰化, Yúnlín 雲林, Tainan 台南, and Kaohsiung 高雄 before returning to Taichung 台中. I had no specific objective apart from visiting more places I had encountered in ongoing research and stopping to check out anything interesting along the way.

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

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