Kaleidoscope Burning: small electrical fire breaks out in Ursinus’ performing arts center

Valerie Osborne


On Thursday, Dec. 7, Main Street, dark and quiet, was unsettled by the piercing sirens and flashing lights of fire engines. The trucks were headed towards Ursinus’ Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. According to an email later sent out to campus by Director of Campus Safety, John Bera, the disturbance was caused by “a small electrical fire.”

Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, Debbie Nolan, elaborated on the incident in the Kaleidoscope. According to Dean Nolan, the fire was caused by an electrical issue with the dimmer panel, a device controlling the brightness of the lights in the performing arts building.

Nolan also explained that facilities had already de-energized the dimmer unit by the time the fire department arrived. The fire department had been called solely as a precaution.

At the time the fire occurred a group of students had been rehearsing in the Kaleidoscope’s Blackbox Theatre for an upcoming performance of the play, “Argos Burning,” written by alumnus Arthur Robinson and directed by senior student Charlotte Torres.

Senior student Clara Kiss, a Breakaway Student Productions board member who was doing tech work for the performance, explained, “We were doing some pre-show clean-up on light and sound cues for the production of “Argos Burning” . . . in the middle of [rehearsing] the third scene . . . an emergency signal went off in the Kaleidoscope and all the actors and technicians and all the [Breakaway] board members present were told to evacuate. We made sure everyone was out.”

Kiss added that a rehearsal for a children’s production of “The Nutcracker” had also been taking place when the fire broke out. Everyone involved in “The Nutcracker” production was evacuated safely and between the two groups, there were no injuries.

Due to the fire, the preview performance of “Argos Burning” that was set to take place that night was canceled. However, further showings of “Argos Burning” were not affected and the planned performances for Dec. 9 and 10 took place without obstacle.

According to Dean Nolan, the unit that caused the fire has been replaced and “no further problems are expected.”

With additional reporting by Emily Jolly.