Wallowa County’s storied OK Theater first opened its doors almost exactly a century ago, on Saturday, Jan. 25, 1919. With the help of Fishtrap’s Story Lab, Lorri Fischer’s fourth and fifth grade class is bringing that opening, and the history of the theater, to life by making a film. It’s a seemingly appropriate tribute for a historic movie theater.
On Tuesday, Feb. 5, Cameron Scott of Story Lab coached 22 costumed fourth and fifth graders as they re-enacted scenes from the past. Those included the theater’s opening which was delayed more than six weeks by the deadly global influenza pandemic of 1918-19. Precautions taken in Wallowa County included closure of the schools and postponed openings of public gathering places, including the new theater, to ensure that the highly contagious disease didn’t spread.
Each of Lorri Fischer’s students has a role to play in this hands-on living history lesson. The short film produced by Scott will include recaps of memorable movies shown at the OK Theatre. Students play the stars, including Cyrus Carter as Charlie Chaplin, Kaylee Eaves as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, and Owen Cunningham and Celina Roberge as Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Kason Mitchell stars as Mr. Hackbarth, the theater’s original owner. Dawson Cudmore appears as Dr. Charles Ault, the local physician charged with keeping influenza in check.
Linda Bright designed and provided the period costumes. Steve Roundy is documenting the project through still photography.
“This is truly learning history through story-telling,” Scott said. “It’s very hands-on, authentic, and fun.”
The short film premiers at Fishtrap’s Big Read Finale, March 19 at Cloverleaf Hall.