SMU alumni put a twist on theater production

Joy, beer, and prosecco – that’s what you’ll find at any event hosted by House Party Theatre. The group was founded early this year by SMU alumni Chris McCreary, Sarah Hamilton, and Ted Gwara, who were seeking a new way to bring theater to younger generations.

“We decided that we needed to do something that was more accessible to people who are young and that aren’t your average theater goer – we wanted to do something that was more like a house party,” said Hamilton.

The group puts on productions in warehouses, basements, and houses. But it’s not a traditional theater group – the members call it an event company since the theater productions are just the cherry on top of their house party setting. These events bring to life the atmosphere of a house party while also incorporating the creativity behind theater productions.

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House Party Theatre warehouse Photo credit: Jessika Roude

Their most recent production, titled “#basic,” tackled the modern-day struggle of trying to stay “relevant” in a society that is constantly seeking the next trend. The play, written by the playwright Brigham Mosley, took place in an industrial-style warehouse off of the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge.

“Our events are designed to bring people together so that they can share a unique experience that is more diverse than what you would have going to a traditional theatre,” said Gwara.

It’s this sort of approach that sets House Party Theatre apart from other event companies. The events are run by passionate people that put their love for the arts and entertainment above anything else. Though the members have day jobs in various fields, they still dedicate their time to putting on shows that they can be proud of. The group has used the help of their friends, family, and alumni connections to get the company off the ground.

“#basic,” which ran through Oct. 19, was unlike your traditional theater production. It began with a party, with the crew handing out free beer, prosecco, and snacks. The audience took the time before the show to dance, mingle, and enjoy the music being played throughout the warehouse. There were no formal seats, which was done on purpose so that everyone could move around during the show and interact with the actors.

“I thought that the fact that it was all really minimalist really made you look at what was happening in the play and relate to it more,” said audience member and SMU dance major Cayla Simeson.

The cast is largely made up of SMU graduates, all of whom dedicate their time to bring to life their favorite aspects of the theater.

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House Party Theatre actors performing #basic Photo credit: Jessika Roude

“I love working on these plays. They’re so witty and relevant and give people so much to think about themselves and the world around them,” said Kristen Kelso, and SMU grad and one of the actresses in the group.

House Party Theatre is about giving the audience the chance to experience everything that drove these Mustang alums to fall in love with the theater. And if this doesn’t get people to come, the drinks, snacks, and inexpensive tickets that they have at every event will.

“It’s about creating engaging theater with people that we love and trust, and also about having an amazing time while we do it,” said Gwara.

For more information about House Party Theatre
and their upcoming events, visit their Facebook page here.

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