Miriam Sitz

Art, academia, food, and booze will all have their time in the spotlight at PechaKucha volume 11, which takes place Tuesday for the first time at the intimate Josephine Theatre. A donation of $5 gets you in the door. Happy hour begins at 6:30 p.m., this time featuring a cash bar with proceeds benefitting the Theatre, and presentations will start at 7:30 p.m.

PechaKucha has proven immensely popular in San Antonio, with attendance at the past ten events averaging 300, highly animated audience members. PKN veterans might know the drill, but for newbies, here’s the scoop.

PK11 Flyer

PechaKucha Night gives eight presenters the chance to expound their passions over the course of 20 slides, each on display for just 20 seconds. The brainchild of Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture, this format premiered in Tokyo in 2003. The creative duo hoped to create a space for young designers to publicly share their work and ideas. Today, more than 500 cities across the globe host PechaKucha Nights – including San Antonio.

The first nine PechaKuchas took place at the Center for Architecture in the Pearl. Volume 10 moved to the former Museo Alameda turned Casa Rosa, no longer called that, and number 11 unfolds at yet another new venue,  the venerable Josephine Theatre.

Photo by Staci Myers, via Flickr.
Photo by Staci Myers         (via Flickr).

The Josephine opened in September of 1974 as an 850-seat, single screen, neighborhood movie theater. Executive director (and upcoming PechaKucha presenter) Thomas Miller spent many summer days at the theater.

“My mother and grandmother would drop my brother and I off at the theater in the morning and pick us up in the afternoon,” he recalled, laughing.

The small establishment played family friendly movies until the early 1980s, when it went out of business due to crushing competition from new multiplexes in the area. In 1987, it reopened as a playhouse. “We’ve been here ever since,” said Miller.

Frida Kahlo at the Josephine Theatre.
Frida Kahlo at the Theatre.

Miller served as music director for three years before transitioning to president of the board and executive director, positions he’s held for the last five. Prior to his tenure at the top of the Josephine totem pole, his sister, a talented choreographer, captained the ship. Miller and his team have embraced some creative strategies to keep the small theater afloat.

“We have to be a true community theater; to be about the community, not just in it. We provide opportunities to be in plays, … we screen movies, bring film festivals, magic shows, acrobatic cat shows,” and more, he said.

Diversified, non-traditional programming at the Josephine Theatre.
The Theatre’s diversified, non-traditional programming.

Miller elaborated on some of the challenges facing the Josephine and similar theatres. “In 2010, 15 theaters like this closed,” he said, “We’ve diversified (our programming) – and have the lowest electric bills in history.” He explained that many of the more traditional genres of theater, while important and enjoyable to produce, are difficult to sell. “If we try to mount a season of regular musical theater, we’d probably really get hurt badly,” he said. Conversely, “Elvis tribute artists can sell out a show instantly, and the Acrocats do well, because everybody loves animals.”

The theater survives on ticket sales and donations from individuals. As Miller continues to fill out the Theatre’s schedule, he hopes to see a membership program emerge as a regular season is established.

In an effort to not steal Miller’s thunder – he’ll expand on the past and present of the Josephine Theatre at PechaKucha – we’ll leave it here for now. On to the bios! (Note: names and titles below are linked to the presenter’s personal/professional website for more information.)


Thomas Miller
Thomas Miller

Thomas Miller, Theatre Director

A native San Antonian, Thomas Miller has spent the bulk of his career in music and musical theatre, while simultaneously practicing massage therapy and alternative healing therapies. He attended Roosevelt High School in its earliest days, served in the Fifth Army Band, and attended Texas Southern University in Houston.

Jennifer Datchuk
Jennifer Datchuk

Jennifer Datchuk, Ceramic Artist

Jennifer Ling Datchuk is a ceramic artist, born in Ohio, raised in New York, and transplanted to San Antonio in 2008. She and husband Ryan Takaba, a fellow ceramic artist, created “dim and sum,” a line of porcelain items for the home.

Chris Davila
Chris Davila

Chris Davila, Art Consultant

Formerly employed by two of the city’s key cultural and artistic establishments, the McNay Art Museum and the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, Chris Davila is an art consultant/arts advocate based who strives to develop and promote San Antonio art and artists. She also hosts an online interview series called “Chris’ Connection,” focusing on art in San Antonio.

Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell
Anne Ng and Jeremy Mandrell

Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng, Chefs

Jeremy Mandrell and Anne Ng are the chefs behind one of the tastiest new additions to San Antonio’s foodscape: Bakery Lorraine. They met in Napa Valley’s Bouchon Bakery and moved to San Antonio three years ago. In 2011, they started Bakery Lorraine at the Quarry Farmers and Ranchers Market. After partnering with local entrepreneur Charlie Biedenharn in 2012, they grew the business into a brick and mortar pastry shop – much to the delight of everyone, everywhere.

David Alcantar
David Alcantar

David Alcantar, Artist

Artist and native Texan David Alcantar’s artistic interests focus on negotiation behavior: “how relationships are formed and cultivated (or better, negotiated) between people, environments, and experiences.” Much of his work explores the challenge of reconciling the time-based nature of negotiation and the static nature of paintings.

Jeff Mulholland
Jeff Mulholland

Jeff Mulholland, Community Activist

In an effort to strengthen San Antonio’s cultural capital, support the growing young professional population, and cultivate the family friendly qualities of the city, Jeff Mulholland co-founded the microgrant organization Awesome SA. The native San Antonian sees the organization as not only a way to improve the city, but to cultivate a new generation of philanthropists.

Jeret Pena
Jeret Peña

Jeret Peña, Cocktailian

Jeret Peña was born and raised in San Antonio, and has been involved with some of the city’s most beloved and most iconic restaurants and bars, including Bohanan’s and the Esquire Tavern. In 2012, he left his post as leader of the Esquire mixology department and established his own bar, the Brooklynite. He also founded an organization called the Spirits Enthusiasts of Texas, a group that aims “cultivate a cocktail culture by the means of education.”

Richard Reed
Richard Reed

Richard Reed, Anthropologist

Anthropologist and Trinity University professor Richard Reed has spent much of his career working in the forests of eastern Paraguay with the Guaraní Indians, a people group whose native area faces the almost constant threat of deforestation and destruction. His most recent work follows the Guaraní refugees into the squalid cities of Paraguay. Reed’s career began with indigenous rights organization Cultural Survival and today he heads the Environmental Studies Program within the Trinity University department of sociology and anthropology.

Miriam Sitz works for Accion Texas Inc., the nation’s largest non-profit microlender. A graduate of Trinity University, she blogs on Miriam210.com and sells handmade goods on TinderboxGoods.com. Follow her on Twitter at @miriamsitz.  Click here for more stories from Miriam Sitz on the Rivard Report.

Related Stories:

PechaKucha 10: Sonic Waves and Children’s Stories at Casa Rosa (May 2013)

PechaKucha 10 Preview: Welcome to the Casa Rosa (May 2013)

PechaKucha 9: “A fine line between a good time and a family brawl.” (February 2013)

Preview of PechaKucha 9: All is Fair in Love and… Work? (February 2013)

PechaKucha Night Vol. 8: The Care and Feeding of a Full and Hungry House (November 2012)

A Preview: PechaKucha Night Volume 8 (November 2012)

PechaKucha 7: From Hawaii to Vietnam, Singing in the Rain (and Milk) (August 2012)

Prelude to PechaKucha Night 7: 20 slides, 20 seconds (August 2012)

PechaKucha 6: “Ladies, Pick Your Bull Carefully” (May 2012)

Creative class in session: PechaKucha 5 at the Pearl (February 2012)

Miriam Sitz writes about urbanism, architecture, design, and more. Follow her on Twitter at @MiriamSitz