The Classic Theatre of San Antonio continues its three-year run of roving venues with a staged reading of Bound by Truth, a play by local playwright Sheila Rinear, March 26 at Mission Concepción.
The play tells the story of 16th-century intellectual Margaret “Meg” More Roper, daughter of famed English man of letters Sir Thomas More, who died defending the Church of Rome from Henry VIII.
Setting the staged reading in an active church follows the Classic Theatre’s practice of seeking venues that enhance the themes and action of the plays it produces.
The theater company first left its home venue on Fredericksburg Road in 2020 out of concern for safety, scheduling a season of outdoor performances to continue producing during the coronavirus pandemic.
In essence, the company learned to “turn lemons into lemonade,” said Producing Artistic Director Jimmy Moore.
Classic Theatre actors, crew and audiences learned to adapt to nontraditional venues for live theater, from Macbeth at the noisy Espee amphitheater stage (then known as Sunset Station), to Roosters in La Zona cultural space on West Commerce Street, to several shows in the serene environs of the San Antonio Botanical Garden.
Contrary to the common notion that a theater company should operate in its own dedicated space, Moore said he saw losing the Classic’s former space as an opportunity.
“I was very excited about the fact that we did not currently have a theater space,” he said, “because I felt like there was a great opportunity to take what we do on the road.”
The diversity of productions of the current season inspired the company “to find locations that are really evocative and speak to the themes and cultures that we are representing on our stage,” he said.
Moore noted how fitting it was to set Roosters, a play by a Latina playwright about a Hispanic American family, in the shadow of the former Alameda Theater, home to Spanish-language productions, and the baseball-themed Fences at the Carver Community Cultural Center, a mere mile from the Pittman-Sullivan Park field where the Negro Leagues played in the early 1900s.
Finding a home
Moore said that the uprootedness of the Classic’s past few seasons helped the company build new audiences and establish new partnerships from their collaboration with Centro San Antonio for Roosters to working with the caretakers of the historic Maverick Carter House for a production of A Christmas Carol last December — a production that included an actor who uses a wheelchair and brought to light the importance of working in accessible spaces.
“I hope that San Antonio is proud of the work that we’ve done because we really have worked very hard as a staff to try to represent as many communities as we can,” Moore said.
As all good things come to an end, the roving days of the Classic might soon be over. Moore is not ready to divulge details yet, but the company is looking to secure a new permanent home before the next season begins in August.
“Getting us back into our own venue is going to be essential for our next phase of development,” Moore said. And though each member of the company learned resilience in facing the challenge of moving from venue to venue for each production, “I think everybody is really eager for us to return to a more traditional theatrical experience.”
Tickets for Bound by Truth are available through the Classic Theatre website.