The Austin Chronicle

Salvage Vanguard Theater: The rebel sets down roots

By Robert Faires, June 8, 2007, Arts

Time was, Salvage Vanguard Theater spent all its time in bars. That is, that's where the rebel company produced all its shows, the better to tap its target audience of under-30s who wouldn't be caught dead (or at least sober) in a mainstream arts venue. Of course, that was 13 years ago, when SVT co-founder and still-Artistic Director Jason Neulander himself was a twentysomething. And after a while, even a rebel hits that age when a home of one's own starts to sound mighty appealing. So it was with Neulander, now married and a father of two, who began to long for a venue his itinerant indie artists could call theirs. Well, last year he found one, secured it, and this week it opens with a staging of Maria Irene Fornes' Mud. The 9,600-square-foot warehouse on Manor Road has been overhauled by architects Craig Nasso and Andrew Clements into an all-purpose arts space with a 100-seat flexible main stage, a 50-seat performance space/rehearsal room/meeting area, a 1,200-square-foot visual-arts gallery, a scene and costume shop, company offices, and studios for almost a dozen visual artists.

See, Neulander wants this to be a home not only for his company but for artists beyond his company. And artists beyond theatre, for that matter: musicians, improvisers, painters, filmmakers, and anyone else in need of a venue. To that end, he and program director Shannon McCormick have been lining up all kinds of activities in the space. Starting Saturday, June 9, Gnap! Theater Projects launches a series of comedy duos each Saturday in June at 10:30pm; first up is Get Up, featuring Shannon McCormick and Shana Merlin, paired with Bob McNichol and Erika May of the Frank Mills. Tuesday, June 12, begins the first in a series of musical performances curated by Church of the Friendly Ghost, with Book of Shadows, Plutonium Farmers, Quebron, Nick Hennies/Brian Sookram, Jerri Signfeldt's Atrophied Sac, plus a visual installation by Ms. Lori "16mm" Varga. On Friday, June 22, the visual-arts gallery will open its first exhibition, "6.07 Works," featuring works by Adde Russell and Debra Broz; it will run through Aug. 18. A reading of Dan Dietz's newest play, The Sandreckoning, will take place Saturday, June 23, at 4pm. As if that weren't enough, the schedule also includes plans for films on Wednesdays. That leaves Monday as the only day of the week when you won't find the lights on and art being made at the new Salvage Vanguard Theater. Then again, give it a month, and that might be the busiest night of the week in the Eastside's newest home for the arts.

Mud runs through June 23, Thursday-Saturday, 8pm, at Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd. For more information, visit

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