Cinema manager builds “picture palace” in garage during lockdown
- Credit: Wayne Burns
The manager of Suffolk’s oldest cinema kept himself busy during lockdown by building a cinema at home.
Wayne Burns, general manager of the 105-year-old Leiston Film Theatre, turned his garage into a nine seater cinema.
It includes stage curtains, velour wall drapes and a proscenium arch around the screen.
Mr Burns, who has worked at the Film Theatre for 28 years, said: “I had wanted to undertake this project for a number of years and started getting things together a while ago, but never had the time to embark on actually making it happen.
“The closure of UK cinemas in March provided me with that opportunity. I started my career showing films in the garden shed when I was too young to work in the projection room, so it feels quite ironic that the show goes on, albeit in a garage this now and it’s much posher this time around. It’s a proper picture palace.”
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The homemade movie theatre will open in the coming weeks with a screening of the 1957 comedy ‘The Smallest Show on Earth’ for Mr Burns’ bubble of six people.
The film – which the Leiston Film Theatre screened when it originally came out, and has shown several times since – stars Peter Sellers and Margaret Rutherford among others.
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It tells the story of a young couple who inherit a tiny tumbledown cinema and their clashes with the owner of the towns much larger cinema, with the rival played by Francis de Wolff.
The Leiston Film Theatre hopes to reopen to the public in early July, with a much reduced seating capacity and a raft of measures in place to ensure social distancing.