Photo by Fluid Frames Dance Photography
14 years ago I moved to Houston from Grand Rapids, Michigan. All I had at the time was a broken down truck, 2 plastic bins full of clothing and keepsakes – and the deep desire to resume my work in the creative arts. It took about 3 years to get financially stable – and once I was, I went searching for opportunities. I sent multiple emails to the Alley Theater, TUTs, and other local theaters requesting any and all volunteer opportunities and eventually got a response from Joe Angel Babb, who at the time was part of the Alley Theater administration. He recommended me to another group he was a part of: Unhinged Productions. For them I did volunteer work, served on the board of directors, and in a fluke of circumstance – made my debut performance in Houston – performing drag in their fundraising Drag Brunch. I also had the honor of performing in their last production, a collaboration with Talento Bilingue de Houston, Kiss of the Spider Woman, a performance that gave me my first nomination for Best Actor by the Houston Press’ Theater Awards.
While working with Unhinged Productions – I met and became friends with Dennis Draper who recommended me to The Catastrophic Theatre and Tamarie Cooper when she was looking for some new performers for her show, The United States of Tamarie! Little did I know that that chance suggestion would set me on my artistic career in Houston and make me part of The Catastrophic Theatre family. Since that first production back in 2011 – I’ve been involved in over 26 productions and events with Catastrophic – working onstage, backstage, in fundraising and charity events, featuring in their first film project (Greg Dean’s HERZSTÜCK), and even producing my own work. I’m so grateful for being able to forge my identity as an artist, and having Catastrophic as a home base means very much to me. I hope to continue to give back as much to them as they’ve given to me.
And while my work with Catastrophic is far from over – it’s also been a launching point for so many other projects and jobs that I’m so very grateful for. During the pandemic alone, I’m so very happy to have not only continued working with Catastrophic’s Drama Squad series, but also with many other organizations and individuals within Houston’s artistic community, including stage managing another Catastrophic alum’s work, Candice D’Meza’s “Fatherland” in collaboration with Stages Houston; stage managing/event coordinating Frame Dance Productions’ 11th anniversary performance of “Speak Softly Like Flowers” in Houston’s McGovern Centennial Gardens; coordinating the online music video premiere livestream of Call Me Ann: The Ann Richards Rock Opera; performing in local film projects throughout Houston, zoom reading/performances for many different organizations; and most recently getting to perform in Mildred’s Umbrella’s regional debut of Charise Castro Smith’s El Huracan.
Catastrophic and all the folks within have seen me through so much over the past decade. Throughout my struggles and challenges, I’ve had the great luck to have an artistic home to grow and test my strength in. I’m proud to call myself an artist and I know that I help contribute to the artistic community around me in many ways. I’ll always be grateful to the Houston theatre community who accepted me at my most vulnerable – and especially to Catastrophic who gave me the chances to prove myself even when I doubted my own capabilities.
Abe’s audition tape for Herzstück, or My Heart Hit the Floor and Shattered Into 10,000 Pieces.