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EAST LOS ANGELES : Curtain to Rise on CSLA Arts Center

August 07, 1994|MARY ANNE PEREZ

In hues of purple and red, the Harriet and Charles Luckman Fine Arts Complex at Cal State Los Angeles is being readied for the opening of the new school year, when it will be the site of the faculty's first meeting.

The complex, which houses a 1,200-seat theater, an art gallery, a small amphitheater and another, smaller theater, has been in the planning and building stages for about eight years. Mostly private funds have gone into the $23-million complex, with the Luckmans donating $2.1 million.

Its challenge, said Executive Director Clifford D. Harper, is to meet the artistic needs of the diverse community of Cal State L.A. as well as the surrounding neighborhoods and to introduce the school's neighbors to performances that would otherwise be staged at the Hollywood Bowl, the Ahmanson Theatre and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

"We have to appeal to our communities which are not focused on the arts as we know them," Harper said. "There is obviously something out there that those communities do that focus on the arts. We have to bridge that or join that in some way."

In attempting to bridge those gaps, Harper and his staff will focus on educating the public on the lineup of scheduled events and how tickets can be purchased for a series of performances or a whole season.

Meanwhile, workers are putting the finishing touches on the theater complex. A walkway through the complex--with its rust-colored arches and circular design--will link the parking structures to the rest of the campus. An 800-space parking garage just north of the theater complex is to be built to accommodate student vehicles.

The main theater, with its Art Deco lighting fixtures and mauve carpeting, contains the city's largest stage--48 by 52 feet deep--complete with an elevator-lift orchestra pit and eight stories of fly space for the scenery.

Backstage are a rehearsal room with a wood floor that has the identical dimensions of the main stage, a costume room and men's and women's dressing rooms with 32 dressing tables each.

The orchestra warm-up room is under the main stage.

For smaller performances, a mesh curtain can close off the balcony to cut seating to 700. Another set of curtains, designed so sound can travel through them without changing the quality, can close off two sections of the main auditorium to pare seating to 500 while not affecting the auditorium's acoustics.

Although the inaugural gala is not until Nov. 10, several events have been scheduled at the facility. The Fall Faculty Day on Sept. 19 will welcome back the faculty and honor outstanding professors. On Oct. 2, the UK/LA Festival will feature a performance by the Phoenix Dance Co.. And toward the end of October, the theater of Yugen from Japan will appear.

"We'll have educational programs that will entice that community to use the facility for their purposes and bring their children so they become accustomed to coming to the theater," said Harper, who served for seven years as the chairman of the university's Theater Arts and Dance Department.

"The beauty of this is this arts facility is in the community and we are in a tremendous community," Harper said.

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