Roller Derby Takes Over Historic Emery Theatre for Final Friday

The Emery Theatre, situated in the heart of Cincinnati’s theater district in Over-the-Rhine, is opening its doors to the Cincinnati Rollergirlst for a special screening of the new documentary Derby, Baby!. The theater, originally designed in 1911 by Harvey E. Hannaford, stood uninhabited for nearly a decade until 2008 when Tina Manchise and Tara Lindsay Gordon founded The Requiem project to raise funds for its rehabilitation. Although currently only open for special events, the space exhibits great architectural potential and opportunities for the Cincinnati community.

Even in its un-rehabilitated state, the charisma of the space is undeniable. The interior design of the lobby, clad in marble with stone details surrounding the original box office, creates a small and intimate introduction to the building and establishes contrast with the scale of the 1,600 seat theater. Once you enter the performance area, the ornate detailing, monumental archway above the stage and the overall vastness of the theater provide a grandeur experience for any observer. The Requiem Project’s intention is to reopen the Emery as a multi-purpose arts venue that will offer performances, film screening, art showings, and educational resources for the professional development of local artists. With the amount of current charm and potential that lies in the interior of the Emery Theatre, Cincinnati should look forward to seeing its transition from dark theater to cultural destination in the near future.

The collaboration between the Emery and the Cincinnati Rollergirls hopes to provide exposure to both the undoubted potential of the theater as well as the amazing, up-and-coming sport of roller derby. Similar to the Emery Theatre, roller derby is currently in a transitional phase where tradition meets opportunity. The Final Friday showing of the “Derby, Baby!” documentary, narrated by “Whip-It” star Juliette Lewis, chronicles the sport from its roots as a WWF-esque entertainment venture to its modern revival as a brutally competitive game and explores what could be in store for such a fast-growing sport. The screening costs $10 in advance (get your tickets from or $15 at the door and will feature the work of roller derby photographers Jason Bechtel and Jeff Sevier as well as the artwork of Susan Byrnes. Beer from Christian Moerlein and food from the Cafe de Wheels food truck will be available for purchase. If you are looking to see some great architecture, film, and art in one place, the Emery Theatre this Final Friday is the place to do it!


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Main photo credit:

All other photos by Chrystal Roggenkamp

About Chrystal Roggenkamp
Professional designer at FRCH Design Worldwide. Semi-professional seeker of good food, live music, and roller derby mayhem.

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