Aug. 24, 2010 10:40 PM
20100825-livingind-0101

The AcA atrium, theater and café are in the home stretch of construction, anticipating a fall grand opening.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010
Written by Mary Tutwiler

MEETINGS
The Acadiana Center for the Arts hosts an introductory meeting for individuals, organizations, presenters and performing arts related programs about the utilization of the art center's new theater. 5:30 p.m. Call 233-7060.

Meeting notices aren't the usual venue for the LivingInd cover of The Independent, but clearly, this marks the beginning of the end of construction at the new theater as the center prepares for grand opening events throughout November.

The AcA atrium, theater and café are in the home stretch of construction, anticipating a fall grand opening.

Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010
Written by Mary Tutwiler
Photos by Robin May

MEETINGS
The Acadiana Center for the Arts hosts an introductory meeting for individuals, organizations, presenters and performing arts related programs about the utilization of the art center's new theater. 5:30 p.m. Call 233-7060.

Meeting notices aren't the usual venue for the LivingInd cover of The Independent, but clearly, this marks the beginning of the end of construction at the new theater as the center prepares for grand opening events throughout November.

The theater and entrance to the Acadiana Center for the Arts comprise the second phase of a project that began in 2003 when the LBA bank building was acquired by the city of Lafayette. Before the renovation and move, the Arts Council, now known simply as the AcA, had shared the building Acadiana Open Channel currently occupies. The shoestring operation was bulging at the seams before the transition into the 25,000 square foot bank, which is appointed with a 7,200 square foot main gallery, side gallery, vault, offices and workshop spaces. The new theater, atrium and café add another 25,000 square feet to the complex. The total pricetag: $20 million.

From an architectural standpoint, the new space is elegantly minimalist. Visitors will enter into a two-story atrium separated from Vermilion Street by a glass veil. At midday skylights throw a gridwork of light on the charcoal tiled interior wall of the theater, a subtle play of geometries that is characteristic of the dialogue between light and texture that define the visuals of the theater.

Nights, house lights, like the aurora borealis can change from pink to green to starry blue, depending on the mood of the evening. The atrium is a grand place to make a grand entrance, the monumental staircase to the second floor begs for a starring role. Norma Desmond anyone?

Inside, the 300-seat theater is a working space with modular seating that can configure in multiple arrangements, from a traditional end stage with auditorium-style seating to a thrust stage or even theater in the round. Rearrange and, presto!, a sunken orchestra pit for musicals, operas or movies with live sound.

The theater includes a high-definition projection system, high-end sound system and vintage quality microphone for recording. The vertical laminate birch wood baffling on the interior walls control the acoustics. From a visual standpoint, they provide textural interest, as well as referring back to the horizontal birch layering that forms the walls of the workshop space on the second floor. A fourth wall, the one facing Vermilion Street, is built of soundproof glass. Pedestrians can watch rehearsals. Opening night, the glass blacks out for performances.

Want a sneak preview of the atrium? Head over to the AcA to see the current show in the large gallery, Shifting, by Michel Varisco.
Varisco, a photographer, was working on a project with Coast Guard pilots, shooting aerial photographs of the Louisiana coast for a piece she was working on about coastal erosion and the fragile nature of the wetlands. When the BP spill erupted in late April, her Coast Guard relationships in place, Varisco kept flying and shooting the effects of the oil as it roiled across the Gulf.

She was looking for a venue with quick turnaround time, knew about the large gallery at the art center and made a call. Curator Brian Guidry responded as viscerally as Varisco did to the spill, moving upcoming shows around to accommodate the timely images.

Shifting begins with lush shots of the Atchafalaya Basin and coastal marshes. As the oil begins to spread, the images continue with their otherworldly beauty, tinted with the black fingers of destruction. To accentuate the fragility of the coastal environment, Varisco printed her works on sheer panels of silk, which float and shift on invisible air currents in the gallery. The work is exquisite and heartbreaking, oil and water entwined in nearly abstract images of the natural world. This show will move you; don't miss it.

And as for you arts presenters: We would like to encourage all types of applications for special events and programming for the upcoming first season. Please submit potential programming ideas to our committee at this meeting or through our website at acadianacenterforthearts.org/Facility-Rentals. The meeting will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wed., Aug. 25, at the AcA. Call 233-7060 for more info.

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