Three World Premieres Set for The Catastrophic Theatre's 2017-18 Season
The Catastrophic Theatre has announced its 2017-2018 season, which is slated to be the theatre's most ambitious season yet. The new season includes three world premieres, an avant-garde classic, and more.
Artistic director Jason Nodler says, "May 6, 2018 is the 25th anniversary of the first play Tamarie and I made together, and it feels really appropriate that we should be producing our most exciting, most ambitious season in all those 25 years.
"We begin with a one-two punch from Wallace Shawn's latest play, which has a lot to say about the dangers of the current political climate, and the anti-fascist Ionesco comedy that set me on this course when I read it at 14 years old. Next, we introduce Houston to a thrilling new voice, the emerging playwright Chana Porter, a writer so singular that we will produce her work again and again. Tamarie rounds out the season by making good on a request she's received over and over again: she's 'bringing back the bus' from TAMALALIA 2 over 20 years ago!
"When I think of rolling out these plays, one after the other, and reflect on how this season took 25 years to achieve-seven plays that celebrate everything that Catastrophic does best-I cannot wait to share each and every one with our audience."
EVENING AT THE TALK HOUSE by Wallace Shawn
September 29 - October 21, 2017
In an imagined near future, the creative team behind a critically lauded but ultimately unsuccessful play called "Midnight in a Clearing With Moon and Stars" have gathered at their old haunt, The Talk House. It's the ten-year anniversary of what turned out to be one of the last plays ever performed. Over the course of a night spent snacking, drinking, and reminiscing, the characters begin revealing disturbing secrets about what their lives have become. The unnamed country they live in is ruled by a charming but frightening autocrat, and many people are finding themselves increasingly complicit and morally compromised in surprising and ominous ways.
Catastrophic artistic director Jason Nodler directs this new, darker-than-dark comedy by Catastrophic favorite Wallace Shawn (THE DESIGNATED MOURNER, MARIE AND BRUCE, OUR LATE NIGHT). EVENING AT THE TALK HOUSE features a powerhouse cast of Houston favorites: JeAnne Harris, Jovan Jackson, Sean Patrick Judge, Becky Randall, Drake Simpson, Charlie Scott, Kyle Sturdivant, and Anne Quackenbush. Sets by Ryan McGettigan, Lights by Hudson Davis, Costumes by Macy Lyne, Sound by Shawn St. John, and Props by Tina Montgomery. This production will be the third ever, after the London (2015) and New York (2017) premieres.
RHINOCEROS by Eugene Ionesco
November 17 - December 10, 2017
A rhinoceros suddenly appears in a sleepy town, trampling through the peaceful streets. Soon another appears, and another, and another until it becomes clear that ordinary citizens are actually transforming into beasts as they learn to "move with the times."
The Catastrophic Theatre continues its tradition of presenting avant-garde classics with Eugene Ionesco's anti-fascist, absurdist comedy RHINOCEROS. Full of biting wit and nightmarish anxiety, RHINOCEROS is a modern masterpiece that comments on the plight of the human condition, made tolerable only by self- delusion.
Despite its canonical status, the play has received relatively few professional productions in the U.S. The Catastrophic Theatre's production will be co-directed by Catastrophic founders Jason Nodler and Tamarie Cooper who first fell in love with the play when they were students at Houston's High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.
LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR by Chana Porter
*World Premiere *
February 9 - March 4, 2018
Margie was raised to be a good girl, but Margie has a secret: she wants to be a lion. LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR traces one woman's highly theatrical, time-hopping search for adventure, for love, and for her true self. Packed with wildly eccentric family members and unpredictable lovers, Margie's journey is at turns uproariously funny and probingly melancholic. Her fierce insistence that she can discover her most fundamental nature takes her across the globe in a romantic and bewildering whirlwind.
The Catastrophic Theatre's world premiere production of LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR continues the theatre's long history of being ahead of the curve in identifying and championing the most exciting, emerging voices in American theatre. Porter's plays have been developed and produced at La MaMa, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Primary Stages, Movement Research, PS122, and The White Bear in London. However, this is the first full production of Porter's work.
Two time Obie Award-winning playwright and director Craig Lucas says of LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR: "No one else is doing what Chana Porter is doing- unhinging logic and time from their outward solidity, revealing enduring landscapes within the scenes resembling life but doing it one better each time."
Wallace Shawn, who acted in a workshop version, was moved to write, "There will never be another play like this one."
LEAP AND THE NET WILL APPEAR will be directed by Porter's collaborator, New York City-based director Tara Ahmadinejad. You don't want to miss it.
SMALL BALL by Mickle Maher (book & lyrics)
Merel Van Dijk and Anthony Barilla (composers)
April 12 - May 13, 2018
We've redacted virtually everything about this enormous project. What we can tell you is that it's been two years in the making and it kicks off a three-play Mickle Maher festival of plays. All else will be revealed shortly after Labor Day weekend.
THE STRANGERER by Mickle Maher
May 11 - June 3, 2017
George W. Bush wants to kill PBS newsman Jim Lehrer. He wants to kill him right on the stage of his first presidential debate with John Kerry. A surreal reimagining of real events, THE STRANGERER delves deeply into the minds of the three characters, especially Bush, in surprising, often hilarious, and sometimes unsettling ways. Partly inspired by the works of author-philosopher Albert Camus-particularly Camus' novel THE STRANGER-which the real Bush once placed on his summer reading list-Catastrophic Theatre favorite Mickle Maher (SONG ABOUT HIMSELF, THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS, THERE IS A HAPPINESS THAT MORNING IS) explores the fascinating ground between murder and philosophy.
This production reunites the cast of The Catastrophic Theatre's 2008 production of THE STRANGERER: Paul Locklear as Bush, Troy Schulze as Kerry, and Seán Patrick Judge as Lehrer. Catastrophic Theatre artistic director Jason Nodler returns to direct. Of the original production The Houston Chronicle wrote, "The Strangerer may be Theatre of the Absurd - yet it's also the funniest and most acutely meaningful example of the genre I've encountered in ages." The Houston Press called the play "a must-see" and raved: "Locklear gives the performance of his life, nailing W. with his weird pauses and malaprops.... He glides through the difficult non sequitur monologues, giving Bush a comprehensible, maddening humanity. Just as spot-on are Judge and Schulze. Matter of fact, the entire production is incredibly realized. 'Perfectness,' as W. might say."
THE STRANGERER is presented in repertory with two other Mickle Maher plays, both directed by Nodler: the original musical SMALL BALL and JIM LEHRER AND THE THEATRE AND ITS DOUBLE AND JIM LEHRER'S DOUBLE.
JIM LEHRER AND THE THEATER AND ITS DOUBLE AND JIM LEHRER'S DOUBLE by Mickle Maher
May 12 - June 2, 2018
Jim Lehrer, legendary PBS news anchor and presidential debate moderator, is now retired and sitting alone on a gloomy evening in his suburban Washington, DC home. Suddenly his double, Jim Lehrer the aspiring playwright, bursts in, having narrowly escaped the rabidly angry audience from the opening night of his first produced play. Lehrer II must now convince his twin their lives are in danger from the mysteriously incensed mob. At the same time, something-or someone-keeps making odd noises from deep within the house. This gothic horror-comedy uniquely blends the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and mad theatre genius Antonin Artaud with the politics and theatre of our day.
The Catastrophic Theatre's mini-festival of Mickle Maher plays continues with this wildly inventive sequel to THE STRANGERER, Maher's play that combines the existentialist writings of Albert Camus with the first 2004 presidential debate between George W. Bush and John Kerry and moderated by Jim Lehrer. Both plays, presented together in repertory, feature Seán Patrick Judge as Lehrer and are directed by Catastrophic Theatre artistic director Jason Nodler.
For the 21st installment in Tamarie Cooper's series of wildly popular summer shows, Tamarie is getting back to her roots. The first of her shows was one of the earliest instances of 'immersive theatre' in Houston, way back in 1996. Her second show was legendary for taking the audience on a field trip on an actual school bus to experience performances in the unlikeliest places. This year Tamarie's bringing back the bus and you're all invited!
Audiences will board the bus from Catastrophic's home base, MATCH, then travel around town and deep into Tamarie's own twisted psyche, dreams and lamentations. Tour a gallery of bad ideas! Take a whirl around Tamarie's mid-life crisis! Go to the bathroom with Tamarie! Original songs, a live band, tap dancing, games, tasty treats, and a motley crew of some of Houston's finest, funniest performers are all part of the 21st of Tamarie's original summer musicals. Make sure to bring your permission slips. This will be one amazing ride!
Formed in 2007 by Jason Nodler, Tamarie Cooper, The Catastrophic Theatre is Houston's premier creator and producer of new work for the theatre. The nationally acclaimed organization is dedicated to developing productions that foster a meaningful exchange between artists and audiences. A recipient of two prestigious MAP Fund commissioning grants, the theatre has gained an international reputation for its original pieces, which have attracted audiences from across the United States, Europe, and Australia. Artistic director Jason Nodler is the recipient of a NEA/MacDowell Colony fellowship, a Houston Press Mastermind award, and an unsolicited and unrestricted creative grant from Creative Capital. Named Houston's Best Theatre Company by the Houston Press in 2009, The Catastrophic Theatre offers Houston audiences a repertoire of challenging, innovative work that can't be seen anywhere else in the country.
All performances are held at The Midtown Arts Theatre Center (MATCH). Tickets can be ordered online (catastrophictheatre.com OR matchouston.org) or by phone (713-521-4533). ALL PERFORMANCES ARE PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN.