The Plaza is the Place
By John Murphy
Remember when going to the cinema felt more than just another night out? With the building’s rich history and atmosphere surrounding you, you could not help being pulled out of the everyday and thrown in to the magic of cinema.
The Plaza community cinema on Crosby Road North, Waterloo, is a place where this still happens. From the moment you walk in you are made to feel genuinely welcome, like your visiting an old friend, but this is only one of the amazing factors of this unique cinema.
The building opened in 1939, the day before the war broke out, and over the years has seen success and failure. It is currently owned and run by the community and is a registered charity. Chris Halliday, the operations manager told me they raise money to keep the cinema going through, charity shop donations, ticket sales and the kiosk, which prices compared to other cinema’s are excellent. However the building has become a money pit and despite all the efforts involved will close and relocate over the road. The new cinema will keep the same ethos as the old and remain an important and working part within the community.
It’s also the personal touch that sets the Plaza out from other cinemas. The simple small things like being able to telephone and ask questions to a genuine human being, and as your ticket is collected on entry hearing “Hope you enjoy the film” by somebody who you can tell is happy to be there. The majority of the staff are voluntary and range from fourteen to eighty years old; there are also opportunities for special needs people to gain valuable work experience.
I saw a film from the Plaza’s art-house screenings and to my amazement found myself part of a spontaneous film discussion group with the audience before the film started. I can only put this down to the charm and charisma the Plaza evokes, and I came home with the feeling I hadn’t only been to see a film. Sometimes new and modern is not the best. If it was then why would some of us still play old records and love the expectant crackle before the first song starts.
With today’s faceless multiplexes churning out any and every film
with disposable pleasure, I can only feel the magic of the cinema experience
is being lost to the sound of big business tills. The Plaza only shows
films that people want to see.
The Plaza won’t be here forever so if you want a personal and unique cinema experience, or want to see a bit of history before its too late, pay the Plaza a visit its a little bit special.