The Happyland Theater opened its doors in the early years of the twentieth century as a neighborhood entertainment venue in the Bywater neighborhood downriver from the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana. Vaudeville and early cinema reigned the stage. There is not much information about this time in the theater's history, and research into the Times-Picayune suggests that the doors were shuttered from the late 1920's to the reopening of the theater in March 1940 under the umbrella of United Theaters, a city-wide network of neighborhood movie theaters. Due to the changing of the times, The Happyland Theater officially closed in 1957. In the early 1960s it operated as a thrift store called "Happyland Thrift" and from the 1970s - 1990s it was the office and warehouse for a contractor named Tamburro. It is one of the few of the neighborhood movie theaters of New Orleans left standing today.
Jeff Mattsson of Crash Worship purchased the building in 2004 with plans of restoring it to its original use. Happyland Theater hosted its first performances during the New Orleans Faux/Real Festival in November 2015 and has engaged other community members for use of the space in 2016. Happyland Theater will be the venue for Vaude d'Gras, a Mardi Gras vaudeville and circus show, the New Orleans INFRINGE Festival and a production of Samuel Beckett's End Game. Happyland is also planning it's own fundraiser for April 2nd, which will be the kick off date for our crowdfunding campaign.
The building itself was built in 1924 and has fallen into disrepair over the years. Funding to repair the building and make it soundproof, as well as money for stage lighting, stage curtains, and start up funding for production costs are needed to make Happyland Theater a successful and thriving scene. Throughout history the theater has been a cultural crossroad, and as the Bywater neighborhood grows we envision our space as a nexus for community development.