State of the State
Soft opening with Christopher Titus' Neverlution
For almost five years, the State Theatre has been largely a shell, desperately in need of repair due to a burst water main that did more than $370,000 worth of damage to the basement of the building, where the State had maintained its dressing rooms, rehearsal hall, and wing space for the stage. According to Austin Theatre Alliance Executive Director Ken Stein: "For the last four years, we've been working with the city to solve all of its issues, and we've finally been able to raise enough money and make enough fixes – you know, it never closed, but the occupancy has been so low that we haven't been able to use the auditorium. Every time we thought we'd solved a problem, a new one opened up. We were always on the verge of opening." Rows of theatre seats had to be salvaged; flood-damaged technical equipment had to be replaced.
Now, though, says the executive director, "we've expanded the sprinkler system and enhanced some of the exits and other safety issues. So we're doing a trial run with Christopher Titus," referring to the stand-up comedian and star of the former Fox series Titus. "We're calling it a soft opening, so we can work out any of the kinks. We haven't had a chance yet to test the sound system and lighting and everything. Immediately after, we're going dark again, and we're giving ourselves however much time we need to tweak anything with sound and lights and crowd control. We still haven't raised enough money to rebuild any of the dressing rooms or backstage production facilities. So for the time being, it really is sort of an auditorium-slash-theatre that can be used in a limited capacity, as long as someone doesn't need any kind of sophisticated backstage area. We're thinking we'll be able to do some small musical acts, some comedy, spoken word, and then film. Our big push is for South by Southwest. After that, we haven't started booking. Starting mid-March, we'll have a better idea of what kinds of shows it can handle and what the capacity is, and we'll start actively booking it again."
Titus calls for a revolution against technology, politics, racism, child worship, and the prescription drug companies – a revolution he argues we will never have because we are fat, lazy, and scared.
Join Christopher Titus' Neverlution at the State Theatre (719 Congress) through Feb. 5. Shows start at 8pm.