There comes a moment during stage productions where everything just falls into place. “The moment between the audience, the actors and the tech. Everyone in the room is on the same wavelength,” Collin Selman said. “They’re silent, and on the edge of their seat.”
Thus was born the name Silent House Theatre, which Selman and Bradyn Braziel founded in 2020. The two met when they were 12 years old and taking part in Waco Children’s Theatre. (They’re both 22 now). They became best friends at 15, then were a couple and then not a couple and now they’re a couple again.
Braziel had the original idea to begin a new theater company in Waco, and was hoping to start by putting on a small production, maybe with a two-person cast. Selman suggested instead that “if you’re gonna do it, let’s do a big show.” That’s how Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” became the first play the company produced.
“It was a large show to take on early on,” Selman said, and Braziel was fine with the idea as well.
“We kind of were like, ‘We need to do a show that represents something that we love,’” she said. “And it was kind of a selfish endeavor at first because we both just loved the show. We wanted to participate in it, and we wanted all of our friends to do it with us.”
The production was a success, and “we realized that there is a market for this in Waco and we want to continue doing this as a business,” Selman said. “So that’s when we incorporated and became Silent House.”
The name also reflects the company’s inclusion of the deaf community in its productions. Alex Blanton, one of the cast members in Streetcar, is fluent in American Sign Language and wanted to be part of Silent House.
“She said there’s no access [to the arts] for the deaf community in Waco or Central Texas in general,” Selman said. “And she was like, ‘Well, we can be a part of that.’ And we have Alex on our team and she’s our vessel to that community.”
After Streetcar, Silent House produced I and You, by playwright Lauren Gunderson, which Selman directed.
“It was a big switch [from Streetcar], Braziel said. “We used some Baylor actors, and that was Collin’s first true directing debut. He directed the show and it was received really well.”
The majority of Silent House’s productions take place at Mission Waco’s Jubilee Theatre. Braziel’s day job is theater director at Mission Waco, and Jubilee “has this really cool feel,” she said.
“What we go for is underground New York theater type, and that’s what it looks like. It used to be a movie theater, so it’s very narrow. It’s a very small, intimate space, which is really good for our brand, because we don’t need a huge space for what we do. So it’s a perfect fit.”
Silent House Theatre’s next production will be Hedda Gabler, which was written by the Norwegian playwright Henrick Isben. Hedda Gabler premiered on Jan. 31, 1891, at the Residenztheater in Munich, Germany. Silent House’s rendition will star Valerie Davis, the theatre teacher at Lake Air Montessori Magnet School, as “the fascinating Hedda Gabler, who finds herself stranded in a seemingly ordinary buy dangerously imbalance domestic system,” according to the theatre’s website.
Performances will be Oct. 14, 15 and 16, then Oct. 21, 22 and 23, at Mission Waco’s Jubilee Theatre, at 1319 North 15th Street.
After Hedda Gabler, Silent House is staging the musical Company, by George Furth and Stephen Sondheim. It will play for two weekends in November at the Waco Civic Theatre, 1517 Lake Air Drive.