If movies are one of my true loves, then television is more like the distant mistress I call up every now and again. Nonetheless, Iâ€™ve enjoyed journeying away from the silver screen for my past two A&E articles. As such, Iâ€™d like to extend my holiday from the movies a little while longerâ€”at least until the doldrums of spring are over and a decent indie or badass â€œAvengersâ€ picture comes out. And on todayâ€™s excursion, Iâ€™d like to talk to you about theatre. More specifically, Iâ€™d like to talk about theatre right here in San Antonio.
Letâ€™s begin with a clarification: Iâ€™m not talking about the great touring extravaganzas that parade in and out of the Majestic and the Tobin. Iâ€™m talking about the homegrown stuff, about the wondrous theatrical worlds created almost entirely by devoted and talented locals. I havenâ€™t seen as many local theatre productions as I want to, but Iâ€™ve seen enough of them to tell you this: these theaters are just as essential to San Antonioâ€™s vibrant culture as First Fridays and Fiestaritas. Here are just a few of them:
Classic Theater: Located on Fredericksburg Road, the Classic, as its name suggests, often puts an emphasis on, erm, the classics. Handsome productions of Shakespeare and Moliere are a house specialty, as are classical theatre education programs like â€œShakes Aliveâ€ and â€œClassics In ACTion.â€ However, theyâ€™ve also proven adept at staging more recent works like the 2001 Pulitzer Prize Winner â€œProof.â€ Still, itâ€™s their knowledge of and passion for the plays of days past that make them a unique contributor to the San Antonio theatre scene.
Attic Rep: Once stationed in a cozy corner of Trinityâ€™s theatre building, this small, smart theatre company recently won a well-deserved residency stint at the Tobin. Conceiving of theatre as a â€œsocial entity,â€ the Attic focuses on staging, especially provocative or challenging works in hopes of creating what they call â€œtheatre worth talking about.â€ Based on their awesomely scalding production of â€œWhoâ€™s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,â€ I think theyâ€™re quite skilled at achieving this goal. A small band of gifted actors whoâ€™ve gone after a thrilling and gutsy mission.
Woodlawn Theater: While the Attic frequently caters to folks who get a kick out of Albee or Brecht, the Woodlawn often focuses on those who luxuriate in the bright light of Broadway. Known from their exuberant stagings of big, glitzy musicals like â€œPeter Panâ€ and â€œLa Cage Aux Folles,â€ the Woodlawn folks work hard to make the space into a musical theatre mecca, a goal they further by bringing in Broadway greats for one-off concerts. Bring back Christine Ebersole, guys!
Playhouse: With the San Antonio Playhouse, the key word is â€œvariety.â€ They run big musical productions in their Russell Hill Rogers Theatre, and they showcase intimate, heady drama in a smaller space called â€œthe Cellar.â€ Theyâ€™ve got an eagle eye for local talent, and, as a fan of obscure musicals, I can also say that they have an eagle eye for beautiful tuners (â€œThe Last Five Yearsâ€) that donâ€™t get done nearly enough in the Lone Star State.
The Magik: Focused on education, imagination and accessibility, the Magik is San Antonioâ€™s premier childrenâ€™s theater. They put on polished, often stunning productions of childrenâ€™s book adaptations, dishing out kid-friendly wonder without dumbing it down. They also do lots of broader outreach to the community via workshops, field trips and their â€œCamp Bizâ€ program.
So there you have it. Go to their websites. Check out their seasons. And donâ€™t forget to support another great local theatre group: the one situated in Ruth Taylor and comprised of your classmates.