Wenham Street Cinema season finale marred by technological failure; uplifted by marriage proposal

Special to the Gazette

     Wenham Street Cinema wrapped up its 2022 season on a cloudy and unseasonably warm Saturday night in mid-October with a screening of the 2019 horror film, Midsommar. Orchestrators of the event sent numerous warnings about the film’s content to patrons, which is much darker than what many expect from this venerable neighborhood institution. Alas, it was the theater, not the film that sent viewers home unsettled: a technical glitch that made finishing the film impossible. 

     Just as the movie was reaching its climax, the screen went blank, only to quickly come back into view. This occurred several more times and eventually proved unfixable. Terrence Hanscom, a frequent patron of the cinema was shocked, “I’ve enjoyed several movies at the Wenham Street Cinema and this is the only time a film has been rendered unconsummated.” 

     Attendees were profoundly patient during the commotion and exhibited remarkable grace when the event was finally called off. “You know, life is like a box of chocolates” said Jo Karbel, a neighbor and supporter of the Cinema, “sometimes the last few chocolates melt and you can’t eat them.” 

     While some, like former WSC technical director Matt Shuman, may look back on the evening as an abject failure that leaves them with existential questions about life and cinema, one happy couple developed a much fonder memory that night. 

     Before a broken HDMI cable could threaten the happiness of a standing-room-only crowd, a momentous event had occurred mere hours before that restored the karmic balance of the local, free community theater-in-a-garage: a proposal. 

     Neighbor Marissa had proposed to her girlfriend Hannah using the garage door of the Cinema. “On our first date we went to brunch at Brassica and I walked Hannah home. I suggested we draw on the garage door with nearby chalk. I drew the ever iconic Loch Ness Monster, or as I call her, Nessie. It was a special moment, and it was the first thing I thought of when brainstorming the proposal.” Marissa enlisted the help of two artistic friends, Logan and Laura, to write the words “Hannah, will you marry me?” which she ensured her partner would see as they walked back from another visit to the adored local eatery that they enjoyed on their first date. 

     “It was perfect – a quiet moment on our street with our favorite cinema as the backdrop,” said Hannah, “It was the question with the easiest answer in the world!”

     Matt Shuman recapped the spirit of the day, stating for the Gazette, “You know, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster, but anytime Wenham Street Cinema is bringing people together, and helping them connect with neighbors and make new friends, it’s a good day in my book.” 

     Shuman vowed to bring back the much loved neighborhood garage theater in April 2023 with plans for improved technology ensuring a trouble-free viewing experience. Check out the Cinema’s instagram page @Wenhamstreetcinema for updates. 

              Editor’s Note: If you are knowledgeable about home projection systems please contact Matt Shuman at [email protected]. An earlier version of this article misidentified Matt Shuman as the current technical director of the Cinema. After last Saturday’s screening he has stepped down to spend more time with his family. 

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