The Hune Company Brings Intimate Theatre to Montrose
When Matt Hune moved from Chicago back to his hometown of Houston last year, he knew he wanted to start a theater company. What he didn’t know was where this company would stage their plays. Then he had an idea—rather than rent out an auditorium for each performance, why not produce the plays in the triplex Montrose townhouse he and his wife had just purchased? With the help of a few friends, he transformed his second-floor living room into an intimate performance space, with chairs on wooden risers in front of a stage, all surrounded by black curtains.
“A lot of energy gets spent by some companies in scheduling performance space and setting up auditions and rehearsals,” Hune said, adding that that small companies spend upwards of 70 to 80 percent of their budgets on the venue. We were sitting on padded chairs in front of the makeshift stage, which had been transformed into the interior of a messy, claustrophobic Upper West Side apartment for the Hune Company’s current production, a revival of American playwright Kenneth Lonergan’s 1996 Off-Broadway play This Is Our Youth. It’s the second play in the company’s four-play “Living Room” series, which runs through December. Also included in the series are Not Mad, a contemporary adaptation of King Lear that ran this summer; Blackbird, an emotional play about the aftermath of a love affair between older man and a younger woman, starring well-known local actor Greg Dean; and a series of short plays by local playwrights about the experience of coming home for Christmas.
Each of the plays centers around generational conflict. This Is Our Youth, set in 1982, features three characters in their early 20s trying to figure out what to do with their lives. It’s a subject that resonates with Hune, now 31, who grew up in Houston before attending theater school at DePaul University in Chicago. After graduating, he and about seven of his friends founded a theater company called The Inconvenience. They lived and worked in a giant warehouse in Chicago, where there were individual living spaces but also communal areas where plays could be staged. “Everyone was involved in every aspect of each play,” he remembered. “There’s this amazing energy when everyone has a stake in the work, and that’s exciting for me.”
Hune’s return to Houston began when he won small roles in productions at the Alley Theatre and the Houston Grand Opera (a non-singing part, he notes). He was asked to teach at both institutions, so he and his wife decided that it made sense to move here full-time. (Hune now teaches theater at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.) His experience with The Inconvenience inspired him to take an experimental approach to his newly founded company. And although the company is starting in his living room, he hasn’t ruled out staging plays in more traditional venues in the future.
“It started out as an experiment,” he said. “I wanted to do professional shows in a very small setting in Montrose, because this is where I live and where I grew up. It’s small, it’s intimate—I’m inviting people into my home. And wherever I go next, I want that feeling to come with us.”
This Is Our Youth runs through October 3. Buy tickets at hunecompany.com