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Houston Matters

Veteran Actors And UH Alums Returning To Their Roots In More Ways Than One

Sally Mayes and Brett Cullen return to their alma mater to produce a new play, Contradiction of the Southern Soul.

Veteran actors and University of Houston alums Sally Mayes and Brett Cullen are returning to their alma mater to produce the new play, Contradiction of the Southern Soul.


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An actress returns to her East Texas hometown after a family tragedy, and she’s forced to make peace with the past. That story line echoes reality in many ways for both Sally Mayes and Brett Cullen.

While it’s the plot of a new play, called Contradiction of the Southern Soul, that synopsis also has roots in the real-life experience of Mayes, the Broadway actress who wrote it. She grew up in East Texas.

And both Mayes and Cullen, a veteran television and film actor, are returning to the Lone Star State and their alma mater to produce the University of Houston’s world premiere of the play. Cullen is directing the show.

Mayes has starred in theatre productions of shows like Steel Magnolias, Urban Cowboy, and Welcome to the Club. And you might recognize Cullen from films like Apollo 13, The Dark Knight Rises, or the Netflix series Narcos.

University of Houston alum Brett Cullen in a scene from the movie Apollo 13.

In the audio above, Houston Matters producer Joshua Zinn talks with Mayes and Cullen about getting started in theatre and how they're approaching this new work.

Contradiction of the Southern Soul will be performed four times this week, May 9-12, at the university’s Quintero Theatre.