Leap and the Net Will Appear is the story of Margie, a good girl with a secret desire to become a lion. So, as any longing-to-be-feline woman does, she goes off on a time-hopping, globetrotting journey of self-discovery.
Chana Porter, the playwright, knows a thing or two about self-discovery, as her own sense of herself paralleled the writing of the play. She wrote the first draft in seven days on a silent retreat.
“I was in my late 20s and I had received a lot of ideas of what being a woman should be and was thinking about what it would mean to be a wife and a mother, as well as being an artist," she says. "I think there is a lot of that in this play.”
She did readings and workshops for the piece in New York, where it came to the attention of acclaimed playwright Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss, Reckless), who championed it as a project for Houston's Catastrophic Theatre in an over-the-top letter.
“No one else is doing what Chana Porter is doing—unhinging logic and time from their outward solidity, revealing that enduring landscapes within the scenes resembling life but doing it one better each time,” he wrote in the letter. “Her play has to be experienced to be appreciated. I want to see it now! I would give it to strangers. I would shove it in the faces of Meryl Streep and Carrie Mulligan and Stephen Colbert and any great actors with a deep, confounded, tormented, and sexy nature. You must produce this play.”
Heeding that advice, Catastrophic launches Leap February 9 as part of what Porter says is a rolling world premiere; the show goes back to New York next year. During technical rehearsals last week and this, the playwright says she’s excited to see the piece come together. Directed by Tara Ahmadinejad and with music from composter Andrew Lynch, Leap veers from the funny to the poignant, touching on ideas about how people find who they are meant to be.
“I want the audience to laugh so hard they’ll be surprised by the depth of emotions they’re feeling,” Porter says.
As she’s revised the script across its life so far, she says she feels Catastrophic is the perfect place for its first full production.
“There is such an incredible cast, and Andrew’s music brings a lot to the emotional life of the play,” she says. “This is the best possible way I thought the premiere would go.”
Leap and the Net Will Appear, thru March 4. MATCH, 3400 Main St. 713-522-2723. More info and tickets at catastrophictheatre.com.