Silent House Theatre Company Takes Center Stage
The theater house lights go down, the curtain on the stage opens, and a figure appears. With collective anticipation, audience members lean imperceptibly forward in their seats and ask themselves, “What will happen next?”
Thanks to the newly formed Silent House Theatre Company, Waco has yet another option for live theater.
The “Uneasy” Theater Experience
The group got its start in June as the Waco Drama Troupe with a well-received, multi-week production of A Streetcar Named Desire at Mission Waco’s Jubilee Theatre. Subsequently reorganized as Silent House Theatre Company, co-owners Collin Selman and Bradyn Braziel saw an opening for a theater experience that isn’t “disposable.”
“You know, you watch a show, and you’re like, ‘Oh, that was nice. Okay, I’m gonna go on with my day and never think about this again,’” Braziel explains. “Or, ‘I’m more concerned about what I’m going to eat after the show.’”
In contrast, Silent House’s goal is to have audiences leave a show unable to stop thinking about it.
Braziel says, “We don’t want them to ever be too comfortable. We want them to be thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe that just happened. And what did that mean?’ and perhaps feeling a little bit uneasy. We want people to be entertained, but also like, ‘Oh my god, what am I going to do with this information?’”
So why the name “Silent House“?
“Our big thing is we want to create ‘the silent house moment’ — which is our company’s thing — the moment when the audience and the actors and actresses are so locked in that everything else slips away,” Braziel says.
I and You
Silent House’s first production is the two-person I and You in October. Written by playwright Lauren Gunderson, it’s the story of Anthony and Caroline, two high schoolers working on a project about Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. While the initial premise seems straightforward, as the story unfolds the audience will realize things are not what they seem.
In fact, given the play’s resolution, Braziel is confident people will need — and want — to see it more than once: “You’re going to see it and be like, ‘Wait, now I have to see it again, to make sure I get everything.’”
Ashley-Kate Sanchez, who plays Caroline, adds: “Right, there’s a little bit of abstract surrealism mixed into it.”
Sanchez, a theater major at Baylor University, was also drawn to the play’s contemporary setting: “It feels so much more real to me because I live in its life right now. And what I love about contemporary pieces is that the audience can take that away. You’re not watching something that feels far away. It feels right at home.”
Sanchez is joined in the show by Jack Counseller, also a Baylor theater major, who plays Anthony.
Coming Next from Silent House
For its Christmas show in December, Silent House will tackle Reckless by Craig Lucas. Again, it will challenge audiences expecting traditional holiday fare. The New York Times described the play as “a bittersweet Christmas fable for our time. It’s a Wonderful Life as it might be reimagined for a bruising contemporary America in which homelessness may be a pervasive spiritual condition rather than a sociological crisis.”
The play follows Rachel, whose “perfect” life falls apart on Christmas Eve after her husband tells her he’s hired a hitman to kill her but is having second thoughts. Wearing only a nightgown and slippers, she flees her home during a blizzard and then endures an ongoing series of semi-comic misadventures.
“It’s crazy, definitely a different type of crazy than I and You,” Braziel says, “which again is exciting because it’s a dark comedy, a crazy Christmas show that’s definitely not typical.”
Looking ahead to next year — and beyond — Silent House’s plans include a well-rounded selection of productions with a “sprinkle of everything” from classics to perhaps even a musical. Group member Alex Blanton is also working on deaf outreach with interpreters at some shows as well as providing acting opportunities for the hearing impaired. And while the Jubilee Theatre is home to its current shows, Braziel wants to have performances at area schools and pop-ups around Waco that require only “an empty space.”
Tickets are now available for Silent House’s production of I and You that runs from October 1 – 3 and 8 – 10 at Mission Waco’s Jubilee Theatre.
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