Thursday, October 4, 2012

Robert Faires Profiles the Zach's New Topfer Theatre, Austin Chronicle, October 4

Austin Chronicle Texas

Wheels of a Dream

With the long-awaited Topfer Theatre, Zach races full-throttle into the future

by Robert Faires, October 4, 2012

Topfer Theatre, Zach, Austin TX Sandy Carson Austin Chronicle
(image: Sandy Carson for the Austin Chronicle)
Yes, that's a car on the Karen Kuykendall Stage inside Zach Theatre's new Topfer Theatre: a full-size automobile (albeit one built from the scraps of early 20th century Model Ts). And in a town dominated by postage-stamp stages that'd be hard-pressed to accommodate a soap box derby racer, that might seem an impressive enough signifier for this $22 million addition to Austin's performing arts venues. But it isn't like Zach hasn't put a car onstage before – remember Aralyn Hughes' pink, pig-encrusted sedan rolling onto the Kleberg's thrust in Keepin' It Weird a few years back?

No, the remarkable thing here is not the machine, which is just the vehicle for understanding what this new facility means for Zach, but the space around it – the space between those 21-foot tall proscenium sides, expansive enough to hold four dozen actors, comfortably spread out, to ooh and aah over the auto; space beyond the proscenium's frame – 20 feet on either side – into which said auto may be moved and stored without crowding out cast, crew, or scenic pieces; space above it – 70 feet above – into which the car, were Zach mounting Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, could be flown out, and out of which all manner of set-pieces can be flown in; space below it, a basement's worth, into which parts of the stage may be lowered for the exits and entrances of actors (or cars) or for creating an orchestra pit; and, far from least important, the space in front of it, large enough that 420 people may peer at the auto from their seats in the auditorium yet with even those most distant from the stage's edge no more than 10 feet farther from it than the back-row patrons in the Kleberg. It's a theatre that allows Zach to do so much that it never could in that 40-year-old mainstage, or the Whisenhunt Arena Stage built 20 years ago, to produce shows of a size and technical complexity comparable to those in major resident theatres across the country and even in Broadway houses. The Topfer represents possibilities.

Read full profile at the Austin Chronicle . . . .

See also
Zach Unveils New $22 million Topfer Theatre by Jeanne Claire van Ryzin, Austin Statesman, September 29

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