Documenting the American South Logo
Loading
Classroom Resources  Header

Going to the Show: Lesson Plans

Exploring the early North Carolina moving picture theater experience in the early 1900s through the Bijou Theatre, Wilmington, North Carolina's first moving picture theater


Introduction  |   Day 1  |   Day 2  |   Day 3  |   Day 4  |   Final Project  |   Learn More


Day 3: Activity 3

Move forward in time from 1906 to 1912 and consider/analyze the following photograph of the Bijou Theatre (either as a class discussion or in small groups):

Students can complete a photo-analysis worksheet, or you can provide them with a questionnaire that includes the basic questions you want to cover.

http://docsouth.unc.edu/gtts/content/2404/
bijou theater
Also at: http://wwwtmpapps.nhcgov.com/lib/history/fales/pages/slides/748.htm

Background: The Bijou Theatre was reconstructed and re-opened in May 1912.
Teacher Note: The Bijou Theatre was unusual for its time being a dedicated building and custom built to house a movie theater. Most of the theaters at the time "repurposed" an existing commercial space or storefront, usually the first floor, and often shared the building with other businesses. The following photograph is of the Grand Theatre, which opened in 1910, shows an example of a repurposed storefront converted to a theater.

Teacher Note Photo:
http://wwwtmpapps.nhcgov.com/lib/history/fales/pages/slides/650.htm
Grand Theater

Ask students questions about the photo, interjecting your own observations and follow-up questions as needed to keep pushing them further with their analyses. As you go through these questions, you might want to compare them with your answers from the first photograph. Questions to consider asking (note that these questions go from objective questions about simple observations to questions that are more and more interpretive, speculative and analytical):

1910: Bijou Theatre: canvas construction, sawdust floor (yellow-wood construction)
http://docsouth.unc.edu/gtts/map/?city=wilmington
 1910 Bijou
1910 Bijou closeup

1915: Bijou Theatre: brick building (pink-brick)
http://docsouth.unc.edu/gtts/map/?city=wilmington
1915: Bijou Map
1915 Bijou Map

Student Interpretation In the last 5-10 minutes of class, ask the students to get out a piece of paper and pencil and freewrite about what they think the theater-going experience was like for people who attended the Bijou Theatre after its renovation in 1912, and to identify 3 key similarities and 3 key differences between moviegoing before and after the renovation.

Activity 3A: Optional - Contemporary Street Views
Consider the following postcards of N. Front Street.

This view is looking south on Front Street, taken just to the south of the Bijou Theatre site - imagine walking out the door of the Bijou and turning right, this is what you would see (time presumed to be 1915)
http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/nc_post&CISOPTR=2236&CISOBOX=1&REC=17
Front Street

This view is looking north on Front Street, taken a couple of blocks south of the Bijou Theatre site. The Bijou Theatre would have been located in the distance on the left. The white building on the left in the foreground is the Gilbert building / People's Savings Bank. The tall building on the left in the background with the American flag is the 11-story Murchison Bank building that was completed in 1913-1914 (time presumed 1910-1930).
http://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/nc_post&CISOPTR=2224&CISOBOX=1&REC=19
front street

Student Interpretation
In the last 5-10 minutes of class, ask the students to get out a piece of paper and pencil and freewrite about what they think the theater-going experience was like for people who attended the Bijou Theatre after its renovation in 1912, and to identify 5 key similarities and 5 key differences between moviegoing and life in Wilmington, in general, before and after the renovation.

Lesson plan created by Lisa Speaker

Introduction  |   Day 1  |   Day 2  |   Day 3  |   Day 4  |   Final Project  |   Learn More