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Midwest Theater

January 22, 2010

I like movies, and I like interesting old buildings, so I practically swoon over fancy old movie palaces, none of which exist in the “mushroom” suburb of Chicago in which I grew up. One of the few things I’ll miss from my previous locale of Champaign, Illinois, is the Virginia Theatre — a grand old lady, indeed. I was delighted to move to Scottsbluff and find a gem of a theater anchoring a block of the lively downtown: the Midwest Theater.

The chasing neon lights of the Midwest Theater add action to downtown Scottsbluff.

The theater, built in 1946, has nearly all its original architecture intact and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s operated by a local nonprofit organization to benefit the community by providing a “multi-purpose cultural venue to accommodate fine film and performing arts”. Spouse and I figured we’d be going there frequently, so we became members.

As is typical of older theaters, the economical space between the seats doesn’t comfortably fit my tall spouse’s legs, and there are no cup holders. I think the ambiance makes up for this lack of modern convenience.

Being a frustrated, avid viewer of over-the-air PBS broadcasts (we moved from a place with three PBS stations to not being able to receive ANY in Scottsbluff), I was excited to learn that the Midwest is one of about fifty theaters in the country participating in Independent Lens Community Cinema events. I can see fascinating films from around the world for FREE!

The most recent screening was Garbage Dreams, about impoverished trash collectors in Cairo, which was followed by a “community discussion”.

I was fascinated by the cultural issues raised in the film, and was a little disappointed that none of the community discussion was about culture. (Other than a reference to poverty and how wonderful it was that people in such degraded circumstances could still be so happy. I *so* hate it when people trot out that canard!) The bulk of the community discussion revolved around refuse and recycling in Scottsbluff/Gering. The discussion was rather drawn out and dominated by a few individuals, but I’m glad I went, as I got a sense of some of the issues bubbling in the community.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Suzanne Fehn permalink
    January 28, 2010 7:23 am

    I finally got with the program and finished reading your blogs. Now I can’t wait to visit Scottsbluff and go to the Midwest Theater!


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