More bad bank news is undercutting sunny predictions that our housing-crunch recession has bottomed out, and our city isn’t exactly regarded as a booming performing-arts metropolis in the best of economic times. To hell with it — why shouldn’t Andy Thornton ditch a stable living in favor of a full-time acting career in the Alamo City?
The San Antonio native, who has garnered critical acclaim in local productions of Lincolnesque and The Pillowman, recently resigned his post as a theater instructor at Churchill High School with the hopes of making his living in San Antonio footlights. Thornton, 40, explained the reasoning — and timing — of such a move in a conversation with the Current.
How much thought did you give to the risk of ditching a stable job in favor of something far less certain, particularly with the state of our
That did go through my head, but I’m just idealistic enough to allow my heart to win out over my wallet. Of course, I enjoy having a place to live and enough money to buy food, but I really think the kind of security and comfort that a secure job affords isn’t worth it if you’re not fulfilled in the work itself. I could make all the money in the world, but if I was doing something I didn’t love to do, it wouldn’t be worth it.
So, the plan is to work exclusively in San Antonio?
I always thought I’d move away from here. There’s a stereotype of San Antonio, that it’s not friendly to theater, and in some parts that stereotype is true. If you look around at the other big cities in Texas, they all have `Actors’ Equity Association` theaters — theaters where actors are paid at least scale. Because of that, actors tend to move away from here. But I’ve experienced in the last few months a real tangible desire to form several different theater companies to turn the tide and establish an Equity theater in San Antonio where actors can earn a living wage. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it could happen, but even beyond that, I feel like it is happening. I haven’t discounted the idea of moving away, but if there’s any way to do theater and make a living here in San Antonio, I’d love to do that.
What are some of those theater companies you expect to make an impact in San Antonio?
The AtticRep at Trinity is doing really exciting work. I’ve talked to two other companies, and both are starting out. One is the Classic Theatre Company, and the other is the Overtime Theater ... There is another theater company comprised of Churchill alumni — the Convergent. All of these young companies are excited about doing classics in a new way.
Was there a catalyst in your decision to pursue acting full-time?
If I had to pinpoint a moment that solidified my choice, it was doing The Pillowman at San Pedro Playhouse. The experience of being in that show made me a better teacher. I learned a lot about acting, and it made me want to act. I don’t have any dependents, not married, no kids, so I thought to myself, “If not now, then when am I going to do this?” I have a good, secure job, but I wanted more of a challenge.
The school year is `ending`, so what do you have on the horizon?
I’m going to direct a play at the Overtime Theater called The Good Samaritan, and that’s going up in August. I’m also in consideration to be in a play with the Classic Theatre Company and AtticRep. I have things lined up in terms of theater work, but the challenge is to make a living doing this. I’m ready for it. •
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