The Catastrophic Theatre Announces 2022-23 Season
Celebrating 30 Years of Avant-Garde Theatre
The Catastrophic Theatre is pleased to announce its 2022-23 season, highlighting the work that has made it, along with its forerunner Infernal Bridegroom Productions (IBP), Houston’s premier avant-garde theatre for three dang decades. Catastrophic is also known for its commitment to locally developed new work, having premiered at least two new works per season. Between Catastrophic and IBP that’s 139 productions, 57 of which were all-new. This season features three world premieres and plays by three playwrights that, as much as any others, have made us who we are.
Happy Days by Samuel Beckett
“Here all is strange.”
Beckett’s existential tragicomedy Happy Days concerns itself with the plight of Winnie, a middle-class, middle-aged woman who is quite literally stuck, buried to her waist in crusted earth. Her husband Willie lives in a hole behind her mound, physically and emotionally out of reach. Even in his company she is hopelessly alone. Armed with a shopping bag of everyday items and routines, a series of half-remembered stories, songs, and prayers, and a heroic capacity for optimism, she presses through an endless series of unforgiving days to the merciful night to come. The bell rings again and when the blazing sun comes charging back, she is buried up to her neck.
Her last resources depleted, her arms and body sunk and gone, her predicament is irreversible, hellish, seemingly eternal. Through it all she perseveres, struggling with that which remains to make real her impossibly hopeful exclamation: “Oh this will be another happy day!”
Tamarie Cooper plays Winnie and Jason Nodler directs, reprising their roles from the Infernal Bridegroom production 22 years ago.
September 23 – October 15, 2022
They Do Not Move by Brian Jucha with the Catastrophic ensemble
Using found text, music, stylized physicality, and an abundance of pop culture references They Do Not Move winds its way through an imagined American future in which democracy has been defeated and a disorganized band of vagrants, waifs, and strays are hunted by monarchist forces.
Their only defense? An expressionist cavalcade of song and dance. There will be a beauty pageant. There will be a sitcom. There will be conversion therapy. Horror movies, cancel culture, and Texas law feature prominently in this oddly moving, spastically funny love letter to our city, a devised dance-theatre piece that could only come from the mind of Brian Jucha.
Like each of his works, They Do Not Move is sublimely derivative and apropos of everything. Jucha previously collaborated with IBP and Catastrophic to create Last Rites (1997), We Have Some Planes (2002), and Toast (2019). In its cover story, American Theatre magazine called We Have
Some Planes “darkly hilarious and compelling… like the best of remembered dreams” and said, “Jucha and the extraordinary Infernal Bridegroom company have given us a way to open our eyes.”
November 18 – December 10, 2022
Eddie Goes to Poetry City by Richard Foreman
“You’re a mirror, Eddie.”
Eddie dreams of escape—from the office where he suffers at the hands of his co-workers, from a doctor whose treatments seem far worse than any possible disease, perhaps from even the play itself! He dreams of escaping to Poetry City, a place he imagines to be Paradise. When he arrives, however, he finds that Poetry City “melts language,” and totally disrupts the normal laws of cause-and-effect. Entirely disoriented, Eddie attempts to navigate this new and bewildering reality, and slowly comes to consider that his confusion, struggles, and failures may comprise a sort of poetry in themselves and may provide access to Paradise after all. Not in Poetry City, but right here and now, hidden in between moments, but accessible to those who know where to look.
Foreman’s plays, particularly under the direction of Catastrophic core artist Greg Dean, are imagination machines. They provoke laughter or even tears from places so deep within, you didn’t know they were there. They poke and yank at the nerves and thrust you, id-first, into waking dreams. When you wander back into the world, you’ll find yourself awake in ways you hadn’t realized possible and you might find yourself in a new world, one vibrating with new possibilities.
February 10 – March 4, 2023
Cleansed by Sarah Kane
“Love me or kill me.”
Sarah Kane’s brief, boundary breaking career prompted the terms “a theatre of extremes” and “an ethics of catastrophe.” In a former university, society’s “undesirables” are imprisoned and subjected to a series of tortures designed to test the limits of human love on the battlefield of the human body.
Explosively aching, hauntingly poetic, and disarmingly tender, Cleansed is a fever-dream fable of unimaginable brutality and miraculous beauty. This whiplash for the soul comes soaked through with hope. Cleansed is undeniably a love story. Given this country’s immediate threat to the bodies
and lives of those that look, live, or love in ways that deviate from the most conservative societal ‘norms’, 25 years after it was written, Cleansed feels nightmarishly prescient.
The regional premiere of Cleansed is co-directed by Jason Nodler and T Lavois Thiebaud with production design by Afsaneh Aayani and James Templeton, reuniting the team that created last season’s production of Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, which The Houston Press called “an imaginative
bulldozer of a production” and “a testament to the collaborative work that happens when two theater artists [Thiebaud and Nodler] are performing at the top of their game.”
March 31 – April 22, 2023
A Maroon’s Guide to Time and Space by Candice D’Meza
The latest work by local interdisciplinary theatre artist Candice D’Meza is a genre blending, experiential exploration of the quantum mechanics that use imagination to liberate oneself from the confines of linear time. A thematic continuation of D’Meza’s surreal, Afrofuturist film series 30 Ways to Get Free, also produced by Catastrophic, A Maroon’s Guide uses film,
technology, performance, and audience imagination to create the perfect environment to escape into space—where a new and better world is waiting for us.
A Maroon’s Guide is D’Meza’s third original performance piece, following Fatherland at Stages, 30 Ways to Get Free, and Wail at Diverseworks Artspace. A consummate theatre artist and self-described “artivist,” D’Meza’s first performed at Catastrophic in 2014 but she has dazzled on most Houston stages and her acting plaudits are many. As a creator of new work for the theatre, her star is on a meteoric rise.
May 26 – June 17, 2023
Tamarie’s TOTALLY TRUE Revue (plus lies too)! by Tamarie Cooper & Patrick Reynolds
Tamarie and her cast of musical comedy maniacs are back for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth in the 26th installment of her hit original musical series juggernaut! In a time when truth is often stranger than fiction, Tamarie’s chock full of veracity, spouting truths about her
show, politics, society, basically the whole stinking world. And also her flossing habits. Tamarie and her mostly fearless, occasionally fearsome crew will snark, sing, and dance their way through truth serums, bullshit detectors, twisted encounters with Pinocchio and his nose, Mr. Liar Liar Pants on Fire, and Tamarie’s psychic high school attendance clerk, Mrs. Jones, who could catch you in any lie (and find stuff you lost too). Tamarie’s got some personal stuff to tell you too. Some real, some fake. Depends on where you get your news.
If you’ve seen a Tamarie Cooper Show you’re unlikely ever to have missed another one and, if you haven’t, The Totally True Revue is the perfect opportunity to hop on board. Truth.
June 23 – August 5, 2023
Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston
All tickets are Pay-What-You-Can