The Austin Chronicle

Help the Vortex Shine On

By Robert Faires, February 13, 2014, 4:00pm, All Over Creation

Twenty-five years is long enough in a human's lifetime, but in a theatre lighting system's, it's Methuseluh territory. So the Vortex Repertory Company – which just hit the quarter-century milestone – isn't making light when it says it needs new illumination. And the Kickstarter campaign it's holding to pay for it ends on Valentine's Day.

So whether you want to consider it your show of love for this sweetheart of a pioneering independent stage company or an "I'm-so-glad-you-were-born" gift for its very special birthday, this last day of "Vortex: Illuminate!" is the perfect time to provide some deserving and much-needed support to this pillar of the Austin arts community.

In case you weren't aware, the current system that the Vortex employs to light its productions is the very same one that Artistic Director Bonnie Cullum and crew moved into the space with in 1994 (remember Planet Theatre, anyone? Bueller?) And it already pretty worn out then, given its prior life lighting rock & roll shows. In the two decades since, it's been patched and jerry-rigged like crazy – ask resident lighting designer Jason Amato about those living-room dimmers and the two-by-fours nailed together – but there's really no juice left in the old thing anymore, and the company has had to resort to renting equipment that really works so its shows can actually be seen, and you want to guess how much that has been costing it?

For a mere $25,000, the Vortex will be able to upgrade to a new, state-of-the-art, industry-standard light board and dimmers with energy-efficient LED instruments. The plan is to have the new system in place to shine a light on the company's world premiere of For Fear the Glass May Shatter, an opera by David DeMaris about physicist Wolfgang Pauli and the Vortex's first-ever production in the Fusebox Festival. You want that production to look as gorgeous as it possibly could, don't you? Then get on over to Kickstarter and kick in a little scratch. The total as of Thursday afternoon was within $1,300 of the $25K goal, so you might be the one to push it over the top. And then you can be sure you'll have one valentine this year: the Vortex.

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