State Theatre's Exclusive Tour Offers Last Glimpse Of The Historic Movie Palace Before Restoration
After consolidating ownership of the 68-year-old State Theatre in North Point in 2020, Adrian Cheng announced his conservation project to preserve Hong Kong's last surviving movie palace and transform it into a landmark steeped in art and cinematic culture.
The meticulous project will restore the Grade I historic site while the iconic parabolic exoskeleton truss at the roof will be conserved. But before the theatre closes down for renovation, Culture for Tomorrow, a non-profit organisation under the New World Group, specially curated an immersive event to allow visitors to see it before it returns with a new look in 2026.
Called, "Discover the State Theatre in All of Us", the tour allows visitors to take part in and explore the exclusive story of the theatre through various activities. Visitors can feel like they've travelled back in time to the theatre's golden age in the 1950s.
Upon entry, visitors can experience what's it like to buy a ticket at the lobby ticket box office and receive a vintage-style movie ticket. Visitors also have the chance to see the theatre's beginning as the Empire Theatre and how it became an international palace-level performance venue.
To fuel your nostalgia even more, over 100 relics and memorabilia of the State Theatre are on display and that help introduce the cultural landscape of the past. These include movie handbills from the 1950s, old tickets of midnight screenings, tickets of balcony and stall seats, staff uniforms, postcards, advertisements, cassette tapes, movie posters and more.
Both the interiors and exterior of the State Theatre shopping arcade has also been restored to match its original state, with movie poster lightboxes on the outer wall, a pavilion based on "Little Shanghai", founder Harry Oscar Odell's desk, the classic performance stage of the Empire Theatre, a large model of the parabolic truss and even a barbershop still in its original state.
The State Theatre will return as a new cultural performing arts landmark
Culture for Tomorrow also invited many local artists to help curate the design of the exclusive tour such as film poster painter and founder of No Paper Studio, Lam Ka Hang. His Full House mural is on display at the facade of the shopping arcade.
Sam Chan, a young calligrapher who won the Hong Kong Calligraphy Open Championship for three years in a row also designed an impromptu creation on the iron gate of the theatre, injecting his emotions and referencing the movie designs of the 1950s and 1960s.
"I hope the public will experience the glorious past of the State Theatre first hand through this immersive event. Its history may have faded through time, but its story is far from over," says Adrian Cheng, CEO of New World Development and founder of Culture for Tomorrow. "With our conservation project, the State Theatre will return once again as a culture and arts landmark with more riveting stories to tell," he adds.
See also: Adrian Cheng And John Dodelande's New Book, "Chinese Art: The Impossible Collection", Launches In May 2021
Discover the State Theatre in All of Us runs until May 16 from 10 am–8 pm. Due to the pandemic, the tour is an invite-only event with limited timeslots and crowd control measures in place. For more information, please visit the official website.