Mission and History

The Catastrophic Theatre is an ensemble-based theatre company dedicated to creating a meaningful exchange between artists and audiences through the creation and performance of new work of all sorts.


History

The Catastrophic Theatre was founded in 2007 by veteran Houston theatre artists Jason Nodler and Tamarie Cooper who brought together an ensemble of trained and untrained artists of all disciplines, many of whom have been collaborating for more than 15 years. Best known as the co-founders of the nationally acclaimed Infernal Bridegroom Productions, Jason and Tamarie have written, directed, and in Tamarie’s case starred in some of Houston’s most memorable theatrical productions.  Managing Director Kirk Markley joined the staff in 2009. 

The Catastrophic Theatre imagines, commissions, develops, and produces new work, with a pronounced emphasis on emotional experience, that encourages diverse interpretations and personal associations, through a focus on mystery, poetry and a considered preference for questions rather than answers. We challenge audiences and artists to rethink questions of form, style, and the value of art in our lives; examine the human experience in all its wild, myriad glories; and promote Houston’s profile as a cultural arts destination.

If art is a conversation a community has with itself, the value of that conversation depends on the breadth, depth, and variety of its subject matter. Catastrophic’s programming meaningfully expands the artistic conversation by presenting plays not otherwise available in Houston. Beyond simply presenting more plays, our focus on plays that emphasize emotional truth over topicality and lyrical and poetic forms over plot invites constructive contrasts with more journalistic theatre and comparisons with other art forms (dance and music come to mind). The arts community as a whole, both creators and consumers, benefit from a wider context in which to understand and judge the artistic endeavors of themselves and others.

The Catastrophic Theatre is Houston’s premiere creator and producer of new work for the theatre.  New work in general reflects contemporary concerns and ensures the continued relevancy of theatre as an art form. But beyond that, internally-developed works are often more collaborative (Tamarie Cooper’s shows, for instance, are mostly group-written), frequently reflect, incorporate and promote local aesthetics (for example through collaboration with notable local musicians), and contribute meaningfully to Houston’s stature as a creative center (for example the national and international attention to Bluefinger).

Since its first production in 2008, the company has received two prestigious MAP Fund commissioning grants, has created new work in collaboration with international music stars Black Francis and Daniel Johnston, has appeared twice in American Theatre magazine's annual feature naming the most anticipated plays of the coming season, has attracted audiences from The Netherlands, The United Kingdom, Australia and across the United States, and has been featured in over 100 theatre and music stories worldwide. 

The Catastrophic Theatre was named Houston’s Best Theatre Company by the Houston Press in 2009 and has won awards for Best Original Play, Best Actress and Best Actor.  Artistic Director Jason Nodler has recently received a NEA/MacDowell Colony fellowship, a Houston Press Mastermind award, and an unsolicited and unrestricted creative grant from Creative Capital.