Arts & Culture

Two Houston Fringe Theater Groups Are Joining Forces

The hope is to create a stronger company by pooling their resources.

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  • Obsidian Theater, formerly a drug store, sits on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Harvard St. in The Heights. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tom Stell)
    Obsidian Theater, formerly a drug store, sits on the corner of White Oak Dr. and Harvard St. in The Heights. (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Tom Stell)
  • Atseko Factor and Luis Galindo in Obsidian Theater's "Mofo With the Hat" by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Photo Credit: Pim Lin)
    Atseko Factor and Luis Galindo in Obsidian Theater's "Mofo With the Hat" by Stephen Adly Guirgis (Photo Credit: Pim Lin)
  • Adriana Dominguez and Valentina Olarte in "El Nogalar" by Tanya Saracho (Photo Credit: Pim Lin)
    Adriana Dominguez and Valentina Olarte in "El Nogalar" by Tanya Saracho (Photo Credit: Pim Lin)
  • John Forgy and Justin White in SRO’s production of “American Idiot”  (Photo Credit:  )
    John Forgy and Justin White in SRO’s production of “American Idiot” (Photo Credit: )
  • Simone Gundy, Kiefer Slaton, Justin White, Sarah Konkel in SRO’s production of “Speakeasy.” (Photo Credit: Nicole Nesson)
    Simone Gundy, Kiefer Slaton, Justin White, Sarah Konkel in SRO’s production of “Speakeasy.” (Photo Credit: Nicole Nesson)
  • Simone Gundy in SRO’s production of “Speakeasy.” (Photo Credit: Nicole Nesson)
    Simone Gundy in SRO’s production of “Speakeasy.” (Photo Credit: Nicole Nesson)
  • Cast members in SRO’s production of “Silence!” (Photo Credit: Nicole Nesson)
    Cast members in SRO’s production of “Silence!” (Photo Credit: Nicole Nesson)

There's no perfect formula for staying sustainable as a small theater company. But in the case of Houston-based Obsidian Theater and Standing Room Only Productions, the idea is to become stronger as one. For Obsidian's Executive Director Tom Stell, the extra help from SRO's staff could increase productivity and opportunity. "Those people will be helping us on all the shows this next coming year, whether they be musicals or plays," Stell says. "So we'll just have a lot more bandwidth, artistically and businesswise."

Each company specializes in fringe theatre – which is usually less mainstream and more experimental. They're both about six years old, but only Obsidian has been non-profit. SRO has operated as an LLC, but that changes with the merger. "By merging with [Obsidian], we're going to be part of that non-profit," explains SRO's Artistic Director Rachel Landon. "And we're going to enjoy the benefits of being a non-profit." Some of those benefits include becoming eligible for other sources of funding, such as grant money. While the merger means Obsidian will lose revenue from renting the venue to SRO for their musicals, Stell is confident they can make up the loss. "I think we're hoping to leverage those larger audiences we get from the musicals to support the plays," he says.

The groups will call themselves Obsidian Theater in association with SRO Productions to assist in the transition for the first season. After that, the group will become known as Obsidian Theater.

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