4th Wall Theatre Company was founded in 2011 by Kim Tobin-Lehl and Philip Lehl. The name was changed from Stark Naked Theatre Company in 2016 to 4th Wall Theatre Company partly to address a misconception among the public about what to expect when attending a production.
4th Wall produces a season of four full productions. The plays are chosen first with our aesthetic of acting in mind, and then with an eye toward material that has not been seen in Houston, or has not been seen here in a long time.
Our productions are often rewarded with critical acclaim and awards of excellence. In our eight years of existence, the Houston Press has twice named one of our shows the “Best Play” of the season. (GOD OF CARNAGE in 2013 and LOBBY HERO in 2017.) Many of our actors and designers have been nominated for or won awards, and our artistic directors have been nominated several times, and once won, the Press’s award for “Best Artistic Director.”
In 2018 4th Wall hired its first-ever managing director, Tim Richey.
Future plans include expanding the season to five or more full productions, and attaining the long-term goal of paying a living wage to all artists who work at the theatre.
Over the last five years, 4th Wall has increased pay for artists as follows: Equity actors 24%; non-Equity actors 54%; Stage Managers 23%; Directors 36%; Designers 91%.
We are in negotiations with Actor’s Equity Association to be a recognized Equity theatre by 2019, one of eight in Houston. We use the Small Professional Theatre-2 Equity agreement and pay above specified minimum wages. Health care and pension contributions are included with every union hire. We regularly raise pay, and pay above the rates of similar-sized theatres.
We focus on choosing plays that are Houston premieres. All four of our current season’s plays have never been produced in Houston, despite the fact that three of them were Pulitzer finalists and were met with critical and box office success in their original runs.
In past seasons, we premiered two productions from New York-based BEDLAM Theatre: SAINT JOAN and CRY HAVOC!
Last season, our production of DISGRACED by Ayad Akhtar was not only a huge critical success but was also one of our best-attended shows ever, despite opening just two weeks after Hurricane Harvey.
In 2018 4th Wall hired its first-ever managing director, Tim Richey. He is in his first full season with the company and has already transformed how business is done.
Future plans include implementing new financial controls, fundraising practices, and beginning work on a long-term strategic plan. In addition, we plan on expanding the season to five or more full productions, and attaining the long-term goal of actually paying a living wage to all artists who work at the theatre.
Our most recent reading series focused on an under served theatrical community. It was titled Women’s Voices and was comprised of four plays by female playwrights.
Tim Richey joined 4th Wall after almost six years at the Alley Theatre and five years at the Houston Symphony, working in development for both organizations. In addition, his arts expertise includes box office and ticketing management having worked in the box offices of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, the Georgia Ensemble Theatre in Roswell, Georgia, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts in Vienna, Virginia, and the Midland Center for the Arts in Midland, Michigan. He holds a BA in Business Management from Southern Illinois University and an MA in Sport Administration from Central Michigan University.
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