“I like to make things up, It’s the healthiest thing I do.”
Cast & Personnel
An all-time Catastrophic favorite returns! The original rock opera, based entirely on the songs of legendary outsider musician and artist Daniel Johnston, was originally performed to rave reviews in 2006. This first-ever revival, directed by Catastrophic’s Associate Artistic Director, Tamarie Cooper, reunites much of the original creative team along with an updated script by Catastrophic’s Artistic Director Jason Nodler. According to Nodler, Daniel Johnston “is the best-kept secret in the history of pop music. […] His music is tremendously accessible. People who are familiar with his stuff will really go for the show. But our target audience is people who’ve never heard of him before.”
SPEEDING MOTORCYCLE takes audiences deep into the astounding, hilarious, and heartbreaking world of one of America’s most compelling cult musicians. The story concerns a man named Joe Boxer—played by multiple actors to echo his fractured personality—who loses his mind when he’s rejected by the woman he loves so she can marry an undertaker and become his assistant. Joe decides the only way to be with her is to die, so she’ll prepare his body for burial. That’s the first half of the story: He resolves to die. The second half is his afterlife, after the funeral. What does he do next?
The original 2006 production received glowing coverage in the New Yorks Times music section which noted how the score “ricochets from toe-tapping, feel-good songs to discordant, despairing dirges, a reflection of Mr. Johnston’s bipolar disorder.” The Houston Press also raved about the original production: “Johnston…writes often of unrequited love, deep despair and death. So it is a strange and altogether wonderful surprise that the story Nodler has constructed out of Johnston’s powerful music is nothing if not uplifting. […] It’s a world where death can be a nice place, and unrequited love can cut down to the spine and fill you with satisfying pain all at once.”
JASON NODLER founded The Catastrophic Theatre with Tamarie Cooper in 2007. His original plays include Bluefinger: The Fall and Rise of Herman Brood, Life is Happy and Sad, Speeding Motorcycle, Meatbar, King Ubu is King, and In the Under Thunderloo. He has directed more than 50 productions in Houston, Austin, Atlanta, Providence, Pittsburgh, and New York. For The Catastrophic Theatre he directed Song About Himself, Thom Pain (based on nothing), Marie and Bruce, The Pine, Waiting for Godot, Fleaven, American Falls, Endgame, Anna Bella Eema,There Is A Happiness That Morning Is, Crave, Bluefinger, The Designated Mourner, Our Late Night, Life is Happy and Sad, Hunter Gatherers, Spirits to Enforce,The Strangerer, and Big Death and Little Death. Jason was recently awarded the Best Artistic Director Award by The Houston Press, is a NEA/MacDowell Colony fellow, a four-time MAP Fund grantee and recipient of an individual artist grant from Creative Capital. He was artistic director of Infernal Bridegroom Productions for ten years.
DANIEL JOHNSTON is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and visual artist who is regarded as a significant figure in outsider, lo-fi, and alternative music scenes. Most of his work consists of cassettes he recorded alone in his home. Johnston spent extended periods of his life in psychiatric institutions and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and manic depression.
Johnston's music is frequently cited for its "pure and childlike soul". He gathered a local following in the 1980s by passing out tapes of his music while working at a McDonald's in Austin, Texas. His notoriety among underground circles was launched once Nirvana's Kurt Cobain began wearing a T-shirt that featured artwork from Johnston's 1983 album Hi, How Are You. In 2005, Johnston was the subject of the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston.
TAMARIE COOPER has been performing her entire life. She is associate director of The Catastrophic Theatre, which she co-founded in 2007 with longtime collaborator and dear friend, Jason Nodler. Originally trained in dance, she began working in theatre at HSPVA and helped to found the Infernal Bridegroom company in 1993, where she worked for fourteen years. She is a seasoned actor, director, designer, choreographer and occasional writer, best known for her original musicals, which enjoy highly successful runs and a cult-like following in Houston. Tamarie has been featured in national trade magazine Stage Directions and has received various "Best of Houston" awards from The Houston Press for her performances and original work. In addition to her original work, favorite roles/productions include: Leap and the Net Will Appear (Simon), Rhinoceros (director), Trevor (Director),
Song About Himself (Carol), Marie and Bruce (Marie), Fleaven(choreographer), Hide Town (Miss Iva), Medea (Medea), A Soap Opera (Andrea), We Have Some Planes, Fucking A (Hester), Happy Days (Winnie), Guys and Dolls (Adelaide). Tamarie is married to Zach Elkins, a custom furniture designer. They are the proud parents of Rose, the most wonderful little girl in the world.