Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews



You won't see Sister catching her breath or gathering her wits as she waxes nostalgic about the heyday of the pre-Vatican II Catholic church - unless Kathleen Stefano wants you to. A veteran stage and film actor, Stefano applies improvisational talent to her role as "Sister," a didactic, yet endearing teacher who loves a good audience like she loves the Good Word. Stefano is among a small group of actors who portray Sister in traveling productions of Vicki Quade's and Maripat Donovan's play, which was first staged in Chicago in 1993.

The show is scripted like a Catholic comedy routine, and each show is unique to its audience, whose participation is mandatory. (You try saying "no" to Sister.) The interaction allows for some of Stefano's finest moments: One man asked Sister what she thought of priests in the Catholic church marrying, to which she replied, unflinching: "Well, if they're really in love ..." Yet it can also warrant some on-the-spot discomfort. Throughout the first act of the show I attended, Stefano (and the audience) had to contend with a woman who would have tried the good Lord's patience. Without breaking character, Stefano sternly reprimanded the obnoxious audience member - who continually interrupted the show with inane comments - even working her nemesis into the show: "Three of these `marks on the blackboard`, and you'll have to go to the principal's office." The woman finally sobered up in the second act, but not before a merciful Sister let her know that she could be escorted out - and refunded her money for the "class."

Sister is a staunch, no-nonsense nun. If your head is in the clouds during catechism, you had better be thinking about God. And come quick with responses to her rapid-fire Q&A; Sister rewards correct answers - given in complete sentences beginning and ending in "Sister" - with glow-in-the-dark rosaries, laminated saint cards, dashboard Jesus and Mary figurines, and the coveted crucifix with a built-in penknife.

8pm Tuesday-Friday, 2&8pm Sunday, 2&7:30pm Sunday
Through January 26
The Empire Theatre
226 N. St. Mary's Street
224-9600 (Ticketmaster)

Support Local Journalism.
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the San Antonio Press Club for as little as $5 a month.