The Austin Chronicle

Break-In at the Blue

By Robert Faires, November 12, 2004, Arts

Thieves broke into the Blue Theater last week and made off with more than $6,000 worth of technical equipment, leaving the venue's home company, Refraction Arts Project, in the lurch just as it was about to open a show. Company members left the theatre late Sunday night, Oct. 31, after rehearsing The Philomel Project: we are all transformed to birds, and when Refraction Artistic Director Ron Berry opened the theatre the next afternoon, he noticed that that some equipment was gone. Missing were a light board ($4,000-5,000), a converter box for the light board and dimmer ($1,500), and a stereo/CD player/sound mixing board ($600-800).

At least as disconcerting as the timing of the theft, just three days before the show was to open, was the fact that the thieves seem to be people who have worked in the Blue before. They knew not only to take the converter box, which allows the light board to talk to the dimmer, but they knew that it was stored in a separate area from the board. Stealing from a small, struggling theatre company is low enough, but theatre people stealing from a theatre they know is small and struggling is ugly-low. Fortunately, Austin police have some leads based on evidence discovered at the scene.

Not surprisingly for a company like Refraction, the equipment was not insured, and Refraction does not have the resources to replace them readily. Also not surprisingly for a crisis of this kind, an artist has come to his fellow artists' aid: Theatre designer/writer/performer Stephen Pruitt has offered the company some equipment that he has to use for The Philomel Project. That still leaves the problem of replacing the stolen items, which will be difficult in what are especially challenging times financially for the company. So, Refraction is accepting donations by credit card, online at, or by mail, c/o Cyndi Williams, Managing Director, 507 E. Mary, Austin, TX 78704. Or you can make your gift in person and enjoy a little holiday cheer by attending the company's annual fundraiser, the Blue Prom, on Saturday, Dec. 18, at the Blue Theater, 916 Springdale.

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