Charles Constantine was a Greek immigrant who relocated to Pawhuska, Osage County, Oklahoma in 1905. Charles bought the Pawhuska House Hotel that had been opened in the 1880’s and he converted the business to the Constantine Theater in 1914. After Constantine sold the theater in 1926 it was renamed the Kihekah Theater. It operated as a movie house from 1926 until it closed in 1981. It has been beautifully restored by the community and once again serves the public as The Constantine Theater. Numerous volunteers have donated money and countless hours of their time to preserving this iconic community asset. The Constantine will be open to the public free of charge for several hours during the Cavalcade Rodeo weekend of July 16th to 17th, 2021. The Redwine family will be having a family reunion jam session, art exhibit and new book launching event during parts of each day and The Constantine will open its concession stand also.
Mr. Constantine was furthering the Greek theater tradition that began with the western world’s first theater about 500 B.C. It was located in Athens, Greece on the side of the high hill upon which the Acropolis was built and it was named in honor of the Greek god of wine, Dionysus. Playwrites such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes began the ancient tradition of entertainment and enlightenment that carries on to today. Along the way such giants of literature as William Shakespeare in England drew upon the wisdom of those marvelous Greeks. Shakespeare’s theater, The Globe, in London is where Hamlet, Act II, scene 2, said “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.” Hamlet used a play within a play to expose his uncle’s murder of Hamlet’s father. Human nature has often been examined through art but sometimes art is just for fun; not every play is a tragedy. The weekend of July 16th & 17th is to be one of the lighter variety.
The Constantine has been the scene of countless performances over the years and Peg and I were honored to have been invited to exhibit our homemade movie and preview our historical novel JUDGE LYNCH! at the first Ben Johnson, Jr. Film Festival that was held at The Constantine Theater June 11, 2011. Our new novel Unanimous for Murder is a sequel to JUDGE LYNCH!. We are looking forward to once again enjoying the historic atmosphere of the Constantine and maybe re-showing our 19-minute movie. We do not need any extras.
Pawhuska’s favorite son, Ben (Son) Johnson, won an academy award for his portrayal of the owner of the sole movie theater in a small Texas village. The movie, The Last Picture Show, was a metaphor for lost innocence and a declining town. When the theater in that small community closed the town died as did the hopes of its residents. But thanks to the efforts of numerous volunteers, Pawhuska’s theater remains vibrant and forward looking. As someone who grew up attending the Kihekah Theater countless times, it feels good to have it still be an integral part of our lives.
Maybe we will see you at The Constantine Theater July 16th or July 17th between 12 noon and 6 p.m.; an informal musical performance will take place between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on July 17th. Admittance is free to all events.