Theatre of the unknown, local troupe explores themes of loss, recovery

VICTORIA, Texas – Monsters, jellyfish and hurricanes are coming to downtown Victoria as part of GOOD & LOST, a collection of five shorts by local theatre collaborative, Here Be Monsters. 

“Some of the stories are very silly and others are heartbreaking,” said Nina Di Leo, co-producer. “Some of the shorts are straight up dramas, one is a series of monologues and another is absurdist.”

The productions will begin at 8 p.m. Friday,  August 17 and Saturday, August 18 at the Five Points Museum of Contemporary Art. Randy Wachtel, co-producer, said he is thankful to craft original pieces of work into experimental theatre in an untraditional theatre space.

“It is a blessing to have a space given to you,” Wachtel, 48, said. “Having a resident museum that invites you in, appreciates the work you do, the art that you do… that’s a real blessing and you have to embrace that regardless of the challenges.” 

The show will incorporate several projectors which were used during a Mark “Scrapdaddy” Bradford exhibit at the Five Points earlier this spring through summer. Wachtel said it was not the troupe’s original intention to use the projectors but after seeing Bradford’s show he was moved to weave them into the set design. 

“The museum technician, Russell Fowler, has been a blessing with the tech work he’s put into the show,” Wachtel said. “We’re doing stuff that we could not do in a traditional space.”

Wachtel, manages the VISD Fine Arts Center, where many school productions and local arts organizations put on their shows. The theatre manager said although he works a full-time job and has started taking college courses this summer, working on this project is important because it speaks to his core as an artist. 

“I’m a creative person and I really need an outlet,” Wachtel said. “We are doing things that we would not have done in my 30 years of traditional theatre experience, this collaborative group keeps me engaged with the art form and out of the box.”

This is the group’s fourth summer working together and this year feels like the most collaborative one they’ve had, Wachtel said. 

“This is collaboration in its purest form,” Wachtel said. “This year it really feels like as a group we’ve helped each other side by side on each of these shorts.”

Wachtel shares the roles of actor, writer and director this year, Di Leo has chosen to step away from directing and focus on acting and writing a few of the shorts. 

The first production the group put on, SHELTER IN PLACE, also carried a hurricane theme in 2016, a year before Hurricane Harvey hammered the Texas coast.  

“It is interesting that we can’t stop telling hurricane stories, it is really a point of connection to our community,” said Di Leo, who wrote and directed SHELTER IN PLACE. “SHELTER IN PLACE was my exorcism of what we experienced with Hurricane Claudette in 2003.”

Di Leo also serves the community as Executive Director of the Victoria Bach Festival and board member of the Victoria ISD Education Foundation. She said although she leads a busy life, the theatre collaborative is also an important part of her life as a creative person.

“A creative person just needs to work and needs to make things,” Di Leo, 46, said. “I was lucky enough to fall in with a group of friends that had similar goals and we work well together. We all have busy lives but we are able to set aside this time for one another once a year by coming up with a show and make some really fun, creative work.”

The museum as a venue is also a big part of the show, Di Leo said. 

“It feels like a very safe space for artists and that makes the work easy for us.” Di Leo said. “It’s a very flexible space.”

The Here Be Monsters theatre collaborative members are ready to serve a South Texas audience with a sampling of different types of theatre styles bundled into one unconventional production.

Go here to reserve your tickets.

  • Writer-director-actors include Nina Di Leo, Mandy Heinold, Randy Pollard, Randy Wachtel and Walter Womack. Additional performers and collaborators include Melissa Balli, Jill Blucher, John Bonner, Debra Chronister, Lisa DeVries, Sam Hankins, Ann Kapp, Meaghan MacKenzie-Rolfe, Hunter Mitchell, Joey Ochoa, Jon Micheal Sparkman, and Brenda Tally.
  • Shorts include WHAT WE LOST IN THE STORM about losses suffered during Hurricane Harvey (written by Here Be Monsters, directed by Randy Wachtel); THE LOST ART OF CONVERSATION about a couple struggling with a loss of communication (written and directed by Mandy Heinold); HOLE PUNCH about a student returning a lost office tool to his former teacher (by Here Be Monsters, directed by Mandy Heinold); POSIEDON’S PAPERWORK about the ruler of the seas’ struggles with declining ocean populations, and with his own past actions (by Nina Di Leo, directed by Randy Wachtel); and EULOGY PRACTICE/ONE TRUE THING about a theater company practicing losing each other (by Nina Di Leo and Here Be Monsters, directed by Randy Pollard).
  • For additional information and to make a free reservation, visit

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