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Arts In the round 

News and notes from the San Antonio theater scene

January is never a good month for local theater. Most companies have just closed whatever show they felt obliged to put on to attempt to get in on the holiday spending spree. Organizations with overhead can’t allow their spaces to be dark, and so will soldier on with some sort of programming, but the juices don’t really get flowing again until February. This is a time of exhaustion and introspection. Even though the theater season is only half-over, we’re culturally programmed to spend this month looking back on the previous year, resting on laurels or licking wounds.

There’s a reason the Harlequin Dinner Theatre, for example, produces an Agatha Christie at this time of year (Black Coffee opens January 11, 222-9694). Audiences are sunk in post-holiday apathy, and this is a time to appeal to your base. So it should be no surprise that the Josephine will be revue-ing (Smokey Joe’s Café opens January 7, 734-4646), San Pedro Playhouse will be running a classic (well, semi-classic anyway) musical (Best Little Whorehouse in Texas opens January 20, 733-7258), and the Steven Stoli Playhouse is doing something about nuns — oops, wait, it’s that other religion this time (Alan Brandt’s family dramedy 2 1/2 Jews opens January 6, 408-0116).

In the meantime, perhaps you found your 2005 financial situation would have improved with a few more charitable deductions. Or maybe you’re just making a New Year’s resolution to get more involved. Let me suggest helping out your local theater community.

Donate to the newest theater-specific endowment on the scene: the Mary Denman Endowment Fund for the Benefit of the San Pedro Playhouse, which will honor Denman’s wishes by contributing to the un-sexy but vital maintenance of the city’s oldest theater, and will be professionally managed by the San Antonio Area Foundation (225-2243).

Donate to the San Antonio Theatre Coalition, a 10-year-old grassroots, non-profit organization that supports and promotes theater in the San Antonio area, and represents most of the 30-some local companies. Find out more about the coalition, and the theaters it represents, at satheatre.com.

Any of those theaters could also use individual donations of money, time, and energy. Call one whose mission appeals to you and see how you can help. I guarantee they can find some use for you.

We get the cultural vitality we deserve. If that stings a bit, try this: Demand quality theater. Support quality theater. Now there’s a New Year’s resolution.

Laurie Dietrich


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