Behind the Scenes: Mershon Auditorium

Rachael Barbash & Melissa Starker

Apr 29, 2021

A side view of an empty Mershon Auditorium lit by a single bare bulb lamp on stage

We know it's been a while since you've been able to view a live performance at the Wex. As we make tentative plans to bring back in-person performance this fall, enjoy this look inside Mershon Auditorium courtesy of photographer and Wex projectionist Rachael Barbash. Her photo gallery includes views of spaces the public rarely, if ever, gets to see, including the theater's vintage projection booth. "I feel like I'm part of history when I'm working in the Mershon booth," Barbash says. "You think about everyone who has worked up there before you and the films they might have run."

We're looking forward to welcoming you back inside soon. In the meantime, there's lots to watch in our virtual screening rooms and on Tuesday, June 2, we'll share an online presentation of the performance installation work HYSTERIA! by Raja Feather Kelly. More details will be available here in the coming days.

The view from the booth

Mershon Auditorium as seen from the projection booth
Mershon Auditorium projector
16mm projector in the Mershon Auditorium projection booth
Boxes of carbon rods used in vintage projectors

Before the advent of projector bulbs, film projectors used carbon rods like these to create a light source, and they're still in use in some vintage machines. The rods are aligned inches apart in metal housing behind the mechanism that runs the film through the projector, creating an arc of light between them that illuminates the projected image.

Inside of a 35mm projector

The projector mechanism, through which film moves at 24 frames per second.

A hand holding a small yellow box for Simplex projection parts

In the age of celluloid, Simplex was considered the gold standard for projection equipment.




Mershon Auditorium backstage ceramic tile wall with pipes
Mershon Auditorium rafters

The rafters

Mershon Auditorium view from behind the stage curtain

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