Arts » Arts Stories & Interviews

Trinity University Academics Bring Theatrical Meditation on Islam and American Politics to the Tobin Center


  • Anh-Viet Dinh
Academic research doesn't usually make its way into the public eye unless a news outlet can find a way to give it a clickbait headline.

But three professors at Trinity University have found a unique way to buck this trend — instead of writing yet another academic article, they adapted their body of work into a play.

To Be Honest: Voices on Islam from an American City first premiered at Trinity's Attic Theatre in 2017. The play draws from 200 hours of interviews conducted in the summer of 2016 by professors Sarah Beth Kaufman, Habiba Noor and William Christ with the aid of student researchers Hanna Niner, Iris Baughman, Savannah Wagner and Matthew Long.

The group spoke with 172 San Antonians from diverse backgrounds about their perspectives on Islam and the vitriol about Islam and Muslims that arose during the 2016 Presidential election cycle.

As they compiled the interviews, Kaufman, Noor and Christ realized that the power of these collected words was something that they believed should be shared as widely as possible. They narrowed the wide swath of interviews into excerpts that they compiled into a script and gathered actors from the Trinity community and beyond to bring the work to the stage.

"The play reflects the variety of perceptions San Antonians hold about Islam," says Christ. "We invite people to experience the performance and learn about their fellow citizens."

After performances held at Trinity, the McNay Art Museum and the Carver Center, To Be Honest has now moved to the Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts.

"We wanted to reach out to interfaith groups. social justice groups, educators and people who care about where this country is going," Christ adds. "The Tobin's Carlo Alvarez Studio Theater is an excellent, intimate, safe space for talking about volatile issues."

Free, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, September 21 and 2 p.m. Sunday, September 22, Carlos Alvarez Studio Theater, Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, 100 Auditorium Circle, (210) 223-8624,

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