Written by Richard Rosen, Executive Director
The Magik Theatre was created as a voice for young people and families throughout the region. It began in 1994 as an offshoot of The Commerce Street Stage, a professional theatre for both adults and youth. About a year after the Commerce Street Stage began, I decided the city needed a full time professional theatre for youth and their families. This was what we were meant to be, and so, the Magik Theatre was born. With a staff of actors who had little experience producing theatre for youth, we had the freedom to be completely unique in the work we did. Our canvas was blank and our creativity had no boundaries.
A Promise To Our Audience and Staff
At The Magik Theatre’s inception, I made a few promises that were never easy to keep: 1) We would turn no one away because they didn’t have the money to buy a ticket, and 2) we would only hire people if we were able to pay them. At first our pay was meager, yet slowly but surely we began to attract audiences in large numbers, as well as foundations willing to grant us money. Dan McLaughlin, one of our founding members, and I discovered an organization called ASSITEJ, an international group of theatres committed to creating theatre for youth. After attending one of the first national meetings, we gained knowledge and shared information with other people doing similar work, setting us apart from anyone producing theatre for youth in San Antonio.
What Sets Us Apart
The decision to only produce plays that were based on books children were reading in schools is what sets us apart. Each show is accompanied by study guides, stimulating children to think clearly and creatively. As an Executive Director with a background in writing, we were able to write our own plays, thus developing our own style of theatre that couldn’t be found anywhere else in San Antonio. Adding a full time Music Director ensured that all of our productions were enriched with music.
Another thing that sets us apart is our distinct philosophy built on the teachings and work of Dr. Paul Baker, one of the two greatest influences on professional theatre in Texas. Our real goal was always to astonish our audiences. We did this by creating work like nothing our audiences had ever experienced.
The courage to reach out into the community to offer different kinds of programs other than just doing plays was also crucial to The Magik’s development. We now offer summer camps, an acting and creativity Academy, programs with the Cindy Krier Juvenile Detention center, Shakespeare In The Park, workshops in schools all over the region, a touring company that brings unique and original theatre to schools, and most importantly, an open door willing to listen to any idea that will better the lives of young people and families.
I’m often asked. “What is The Magik Theatre?” I have a simple answer. The Magik Theatre is a community center built to educate people of all ages by using the unique philosophy of theatre that we have created in fourteen short years of existence. We listen to anyone who has an idea. We seek the best way to help teachers do the best they can to educate young people. We hire artists who are willing to constantly challenge themselves and we keep them by providing a place they can do their art with little interference while getting paid to do what they love.
And The Rest is History...
We began life in a little store front with children watching plays, sitting on carpet squares on the floor. Now our home in historic Hemisfair Park seats 600 people, and is one of the most beautiful theatres in the city and perhaps the state. Even so, we seek additional space because our dreams need more room to come true. I think back and it’s pretty amazing that we’ve come this far, this fast, all because a few actors, myself being one of them, had children who weren’t getting the chance to see great theatre created especially for them. I knew then just as I know now, that once I filled the needs of actors, designers, and musicians, treated them fairly and honestly as well as treating our audience with respect, dignity, and honesty, there was no limit to how far we could go and how large we could grow.