BETA Theater

EATING HOUSTON, BETA THEATER by Traci Lavois Thiebaud

Tucked away in a weird armpit of downtown, where 59 and 45 come together to split apart again, there is a yellow building just off the feeder road on the horizon line of 3rd Ward and the East End. Inside the belly of this yellow building runs leaky pipes, poor electric, and one of the best communities I've ever encountered in Houston or elsewhere. It's called BETA Theater. "BETA started with the goal to create a vast professional performance culture based in Houston.  We wanted to be a reason and an outlet for the best talent to remain in Houston and realize their professional aspirations here.  Houston's incubator for improv chickens." -Jeromy Barber Owner, Founder, ChickenHead BETA Theater is deeply rooted in DIY culture and often, attending a BETA show is like stumbling upon the rowdy underground music venue of the comedy scene. I am proud to say that the community is full of a bunch of weirdos, who, as Jeromy puts it "just get it." We provide a platform for creativity across many disciplines and aim to celebritize local talent. In order to do that, we bring the best in the world of improv and comedy to come teach and perform in Houston. We provide stage time for just about anyone willing to put up a show. We create content for the stage and the web, centered largely around the "yes, and" gospel of improv. For the past three years BETA has been housed under many different roofs and seen many evolutions. Now, we are charging forward stronger than ever. We currently have three improv house teams performing every week, with stand up, sketch, improv, and variety shows every weekend. We run the two largest head-to-head competitions in the city in both improv and stand up, giving away thousands in cash prizes. We offer classes and workshops four days a week and see more people coming through the theater than ever before. We hope to broaden our reach and grow into a larger, more permanent home very soon. A place with at least two rooms, so that we could run shows and classes simultaneously, 7 nights a week. The idea that Houston could become a creative center to rival the big three entertainment cities (New York, LA, & Chicago) seems more and more possible every day. As the metro rail cuts further and further across the city, connecting more people to more places, and as Houston continues to see population growth, it is no surprise that the artists of the city are responding with a roar. For me, BETA is a crucial contributor to this creative monster. We wanna eat the world! BETA values its community and offers a work-study program for our classes. Currently we utilize a pay what you can policy for shows and bar. We treat our talent as professionals and pay performers as often as we can, while also offering generous door splits for shows produced at BETA. "We are lucky to have a space to throw shit against the wall and see what sticks.  To have the luxury of pondering the mystery of why sticky shit is most successful when it stays on the wall. I dunno.  It's fun.  I was like... Wouldn't it be cool if we became the most talented people in the world? And now that's the journey we're on." -Jeromy BETA Theater is: Jeromy Barber Hoja Lopez, Creative Director Traci Lavois Thiebaud, Curriculum Director Kendall Seymour, Theater Manager ... and all the butts in the seats and the chickens onstage.

Photos from Password at BETA Theater by Tasha Gorel




[Password is a DIY game show created and hosted by Jerry Emeka]

Some Notecards Found at BETA Theater