From massive to minuscule, loss is the theme of “Good and Lost,” a series of five short plays being performed by members of Here Be Monsters, a local theater ensemble, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art.
“What We Lost in the Storm,” the first of the plays, addresses losses created by Hurricane Harvey.
“We take on issues that are important to us,” said Nina di Leo, executive director for the Bach Festival and one of five core members of the ensemble. “And we create something never seen before.”
The ensemble has produced one original play each summer since 2016. Last year, Crossroads residents began approaching the ensemble wanting to learn more about its productions, so the members decided to take the next step and choose a name. Here Be Monsters refers to the mythical creatures drawn on maps by medieval cartographers to represent the danger that might lurk in uncharted territories.
“Going into the unknown, creating newly written work and that spirit of exploration” prompted the group to select the name, Di Leo said. The original plays are written, directed and performed by “all kinds of wonderful artists” in the Crossroads. Choreographers, videographers and photographers work with writers, directors and about 20 actors to produce the performances.
“I think Victoria, for being such a small city, has a lot of creativity and opportunities to make new work, and we’re very excited about that,” Di Leo said. “And we welcome new voices and more actors.”
Each year, the ensemble puts a call out to local playwrights and many “wonderful plays” arrive. Short and full-length absurdist plays, dramas, comedies, farces and any works with a different style that tell a new story are welcome. Auditions are held in the spring or early summer.
However, none were the right fit this year, so members of the ensemble’s core group composed a series of five short plays.
In addition to “What We Lost in the Storm,” composed by the ensemble and directed by Randy Wachtel, the plays include “The Lost Art of Conversation,” written and directed by Mandy Heinold, about a couple struggling with a loss of communication; and “Hole Punch,” composed by the group and directed by Heinold, which centers around a student returning a lost office tool to his former teacher. The last two in the series are “Poseidon’s Paperwork,” written by Di Leo and directed by Wachtel, which involves the ruler of the sea’s struggles with the loss of ocean populations as well as his past actions; and “Eulogy Practice/One True Thing,” composed by Di Leo and directed by Randy Pollard, about a theater company practicing losing each other.
The core group includes Di Leo, Wachtel, manager of the Victoria Fine Arts Center who has a long history of directing theater in other Texas towns, and Heinold, theater teacher at Victoria East High School who was recently named VISD Secondary Teacher of the Year. Pollard, owner of On the Edge Photography, and Walter Womack, an area rancher, both with longtime ties to community theater, round out the quintet.
This is the third season that the actors will perform on a stage installed in the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art complete with sets and props. Di Leo expressed her gratitude to the museum, which she called “wonderful in their support of artists and the creation of new work.”
“We saw an interest in the community to write and create new work, and now we’re in year four,” Di Leo said. “We learn a lot every time we do it, and this year is a new step for us, having a name and reaching a point of feeling like a company.”