Our History and Our Culture
With a rich history spanning ten years (and counting!), The Baron’s Men has grown from a small, creative collaboration into a full-fledged member of the Austin theatre community. Through it all, The Baron’s Men continues to be a labor of passion and fun!
Brian Martin pitched the original idea for an abbreviated performance of Henry V to a few of his friends in 1997. Driven by a shared love for Medieval/Renaissance reenactment through their involvement in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), these original players presented a lean 20 minute program without fanfare, without a stage, and with very few props. The original performance was a hit, and soon the players were asked to reprise their performances. But what should they be called? Taking a cue from Elizabethan theatre troupe styling, The Baron’s Men formed.
Fueled by the Henry V experience, original player Steve Hemphill encouraged the company to expand its scope and ambition. By designing and building a portable 15X20 stage with backdrops and ringing the seating area with pavilions, The Baron’s Men could create a portable theater: this time The Baron’s Men would perform full length productions. The Baron’s Men continued in this mode as a traveling troupe through 2004 with their production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor”.
Fortunes truly changed for The Baron’s Men when, in 2005, computer game legend and long-time friend Richard Garriott approached some of the founders. Having recently seen a play at The Globe in London, Mr. Garriott had decided to build a theater on his property and offered the use of it to The Baron’s Men. Since that time, The Baron’s Men have made their home at The Curtain Theater. The word “home” is important to note, for The Curtain is more than a physical space in which the troupe performs its plays. The Curtain is truly the troupe’s spiritual home, a place we truly love and respect, and we consider ourselves to be custodians of the theater. We work hard to ensure that the theatre is well taken care of, and we are forever grateful to Mr. Garriott for allowing us to call The Curtain home.
2007 Marked the first year a show was staged for the general public rather than just for friends and at SCA events. Much to our delight, over 100 people came out to witness the first public performance, encouraging the troupe to become a more active, visible theatre group in the Austin area. In addition to the troupe’s public performances, The Baron’s Men have also collaborated with other Austin organizations such as Austin Shakespeare Festival (ASF) for events such as Shakespeare’s Birthday. Additionally, we have expanded our outreach to include community outreach with local High School theatre programs.
The Baron’s Men have undergone a great many changes since that first SCA performance around a campfire. Through it all, the most important aspects of The Baron’s Men have not changed: we love performing on stage, we love the history of the theater, we support each other through hard work and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Most importantly, we keep it loose and we have fun doing what we do. After all, if it’s not fun, why do it?