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Our Block-Out-Bad-News Pick of the Week: Catastrophic Theatre's THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS

Our Block-Out-Bad-News Pick of the Week: Catastrophic Theatre's THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS

Art is important. Periodt, as the kids (at home with us) say. Which is why we're thrilled to offer readers our Block-Out-Bad-News Pick of the Week: an art-related activity/moment of joy during these dark times, available to you within the comfort of your home, absolutely free of charge.

We have long admired Catastrophic Theatre's mission of making theatre available to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. And now the Catastrophic team is working hard to make free content available through virtual mediums, continuously striving to make connections, however possible.

To that end, they have posted a FREE production of Mickle Maher's THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS, directed by Greg Dean, and starring Greg Dean and Jeff Miller, for your viewing pleasure, and are hosting a virtual Q&A with the playwright and cast this week.

In THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS, noted composer Ludwig van Beethoven and noted hunchback Quasimodo team up to chair a panel on sound design. More specifically, they are explaining their fruitless efforts to create the impossible cue: that baffling sound effect described at the end of Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. The panel follows the pair's frustrated efforts, complicated by the fact that they are both quite deaf.

Thematically, the play explores the creative impulse and the question of artistic endeavor. Is it a noble thing to continue to try in the face of inevitable failure or is it better to simply remain silent? In short, this is the most Mickle-ish play of all time, deeply deserving of your time, and our pick for Best Way to Block-Out-Bad-News this week!

Here's the plan: at your leisure, watch THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS HERE. You'll laugh a lot. You deserve that. Then join Catastrophic Theatre LIVE on the web on Wednesday, April 1 at 6:00pm for Hunchback Happy Hour, a Q&A with playwright Mickle Maher, director and actor Greg Dean, actor Jeff Miller and more - moderated by the director of UH School of Theatre & Dance, Dr. Rob Shimko. FYI - this is one of Catastrophic's favorite plays - this recording was made in 2015, the second time they mounted this production... this is a theatre that thrives on new work, so to repeat a production is significant.

For those new to Mickle Maher's work, he is a cofounder of Chicago's Theater Oobleck and the author of numerous plays, including An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening, and The Hunchback Variations. Recent plays include The Strangerer, Spirits to Enforce (Theater Oobleck), Cyrano (translator) and The Cabinet (Redmoon Theater), and Lady Madeline (Steppenwolf). His plays have appeared Off-Broadway and in numerous theaters around the world. He is published by Hope and Nonthings. He has been the recipient of a Creative Capital grant (for The Strangerer) and, recently, an NEA grant to develop his Hunchback Variations into an opera. He currently teaches at the University of Chicago.

Do your part: Art is valuable. It is hard work and expensive. The Catastrophic Theatre relies on you paying what you can for tickets, and still each of their plays costs more to produce than it earns in ticket sales. "We feel compelled to do the plays we do, but it is only possible through the generosity of the Houston community. We need your support. Your donation will help ensure that we can continue developing new plays, supporting artists, and producing work unlike anything else seen on Houston stages. We can't do it without you."

For those who are able to contribute, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to help keep The Catastrophic Theatre going during these challenging times.

Our Block-Out-Bad-News Pick of the Week: Catastrophic Theatre's THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS

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From This Author Pnina Topham