What's the deal with this beer and ice cream thing?

I’m going to be honest with you. When I first heard about the 2nd Annual Beer & Ice Cream Social, I was skeptical. I am a part time teacher, and I’m not rich. Who am I to go to fundraiser, especially when it’s raising funds for the space where I work?

Okay okay, but It's not the hoity-toity thing that I associate with fundraisers. It’s more like a FUNdraiser. Right?! Cause, listen, it’s hot dogs. Hot dogs AND ice cream. Hot dogs AND ice cream AND 8th Wonder Beer. Hot dogs AND ice cream AND 8th Wonder Beer AND a silent art auction AND comedy shows AND live music AND all the people I love under one roof. So you can bet your sweet ass that I will be there and that I will be bidding on all the super bad ass art that’s gonna be hanging on those pristine white walls.

Plus, it’s $25, y'all. Let’s break that down:

Hot Dogs made by Eatsie Boys’ own Matt Marcus.  Regular price for one: $6.95. And we all know that, as American’s, we eat at least two gourmet hot dogs in one sitting. So, that’s about $14.00.

Ice Cream from a legit AF ice cream cart run by resident weirdo, Dano Colón. Probably like $2 a pop. So, that puts us up to $16.00.

An 8th Wonder Beer. We sell that for $5.00 a can at Rec Room. So assuming you come to Rec Room to get your beer (which you should), that’s $21.00.

Then there’s 7 shows. SEVEN shows, my dudes. Our tickets generally cost $10. So at the very least, that's $70 worth of entertainment.  

For the price of one $25 ticket, you are getting $91 worth of awesome.

Not to mention the fact that your ticket pays for our non-profit arts organization so it's tax deductible! Artists, space, lights, costumes, topo chico, etc. It’s going to be a good, fun, ridiculously cool time and you should absolutely come.

March 25th at 8pm. I’ll be there.


Written by Grace Rosenwinkel Cunyus

On Being Bad

I babysat Iris Wachs on Monday night. If you haven’t been keeping up with this stellar blog, first of all, fuck you; second, Iris Wachs is Rec Room co-owner Stephanie Wachs’s three-year-old daughter. (What a sentence!) She was also the subject of last week’s blog. Sorry to bombard you with toddler activity, but this little whipper-snapper is such a powerful force of nature (not unlike her mother) that two blogs seemed necessary.

So, Iris and I were blowing bubbles in the backyard. Actually, we were having an all out war on the bubbles. While other three-year-olds might like dancing around with beautiful bouncy balls of soap, Iris enjoyed stomping them into the ground while screaming. She would lift her hands up as they rose, usher them down gently, then attack, full force.

At first I was like, am I allowing violence in this child? Will she one day cut people to pieces and say it was all because her babysitter at three let her destroy bubbles? But I went along with it because she was having such unadulterated toddler fun, and soon I was too. We pounced around the yard, screaming our heads off, pissing off the neighbors.

If a bubble went unnoticed at first glance, either Iris or I would quickly find it. We’d bend over the thing, watch it resting peacefully and say to each other, ‘aww look at the pretty bubble!” Then she would scream and stamp it out. Her war cry, which I soon adopted, was ‘SEIZE THEM!’ It was hilariously out of context for her cherubic face.

“You know what Grace?” Iris said, mid-stomp. “We’re just pretending to be bad guys.”

Once she said that, I understood why we were popping bubbles and not dancing with them.

The world is scary right now, especially our country sized pocket. In Iris’s young life, and in my older one, our backyards have never been quite as vulnerable. Iris is not fully aware of this, but she does have the same instinct to be harsher. To be hard. To be punchy and angry and a ‘bad guy.’

Her bubble-brazenness did not, however, change who she was. Iris is a sensitive, loving, hilarious, good-hearted person. But right at this moment, she needed to pretend to be bad.

As a country, are protesting and yelling and punching Nazis. We are accessing a side of ourselves, especially as liberals (to be clear, I am a radical liberal which doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Rec Room) that we haven’t before. We are being "bad." That doesn’t change what we stand for: peace and justice.

At Rec Room and other theaters across the nation, we are taking a stand against injustice. It’s not perfect. Sometimes we have to just make money. Sometimes we have to make statements that push patrons away. Sometimes we take our frustrations out on each other. Sometimes we have to be bad. But it doesn’t change who we are, we are a company of well meaning people who want to make art more accessible, and we will.

“It’s just pretend.” Iris said, putting her little hand on my arm. I had been quiet for too long. I looked down at her and realized that it was time to be affirming for my little bestie. To empower this small part of the next generation to access her powerful, bad side.

“Yeah, we’re just pretending.” I stomped a bubble. “It’s fun to be bad sometimes!”

Written by Grace Rosnenwinkel Cunyus

Iris WITTELS Wachs: An Expose

The real owner of Rec Room is not Matt Hune or Stephanie Wittels Wachs, it’s three-year-old Iris.

Iris is ambition and spunk incarnate. She is an honest and no-bullshit employer. She know’s the game and know’s how to play it. When confronted with things that don’t make sense, she taps her foot and rolls her eyes.

My first interview with Ms. Wachs was short lived because she understands the short-lived nature of political talk. On the night of the election (right after our Donald Trump piñata almost crushed her), when asked who she predicted would be the next president of our United States, Wachs estimated that popular TV personality Sophia the First would be filling the ultimate position in the Oval Office.

I was impressed. Sophia is a national celebrity, akin to our current Cheeto, and a woman, akin to Hillary of the Clinton variety. Sophia, while not running at that moment, represents a lot of American values: wholesome in the family, singing to solve problems, loving all people no matter their creed. Her answer caused me to eagerly await the day that I will be able to vote Iris Wachs for president, it’ll come y’all. Get ready.

But, who is Iris? What thoughts go on behind that skeptical punim covered in masses of curly brunette locks? This reporter (blogger) is set out to discover the Iris behind the scenes.

I sat down with her, well, I sat and she and her posse (fellow three year olds Levi and Jack) ran around and screamed, after she saw a dress rehearsal of Rec Room’s upcoming children’s show Garbage Island. I eagerly awaited her esteemed opinion, as well as the opinions of her peers.

Iris did her best to hold her opinion from me, she has a lot going on. When asked what the name of the show we just saw was Iris said, “Puppets.” When asked what the play was about, she said, “puppets.” To be clear, there is only one puppet in the show. His name is Ant Man and he makes a great impression.

All three of the three year olds were energized by the performance. They showed their enthusiasm with shouts and screams and screeches.  They ran around the stage, hugging the performers and each other. I tried to get a comment about the show, but it was difficult.

“Who was your favorite person in the show?”

Levi stared at me for a second, and just when I thought I would have to repeat the question, he proceeded to point to all five actors. That is the best review ever.

“Do you know what trash is?” I asked the bouncy bunch.

“Yes,” said Jack, matter of fact, before running up and hugging Tasha Gorel who plays a bunch of fun characters.

The one thing that was abundantly clear was that these kids LOVED these actors who are devoted to educating kids about recycling and, moreover, about being good people. What’s more valuable than that?

PS: We will have an open bar during the show, your welcome moms and dads.

Written by Grace Rosenwinkel Cunyus


Why Houston?

In my freshman Production Practice class at DePaul University we were trained what to say when our families asked why we hadn’t gone to New York for school. When people hear theater, they think New York. Broadway, the Tony’s, etc. New York, sparkling streets where the young ingénue from Texas can get off a bus and become a star. Or a hooker. Whatever floats her boat. Chicagoans are fiercely against this perception. You can be a theater person even BIGGER and BETTER in Chicago. You can be a hooker as good in Illinois as in New York! It’s hard to be a person living in ‘the Second City.

This is what my darling professor told us to say: New York was commercial, Chicago was avant garde. New York was Broadway and money and Producers, Chicago was Steppenwolf and Second City and Free Street, in New York we’d sell out, in Chicago we could be edgy. We could make it in Chicago. Chicago was not, in fact, a second city. It was the first city. Chicago strong. Chicago forever.

I was smarter than that. Sure, Chicago is a better place to be for a young artist than New York, but Houston is better than both. Far better.

My senior year I had to do informational interviews with people who had the job I wanted. My first thought was Matt Hune, co-founder of Rec Room (a fact I was barely even aware of at the time). I called him because he had gone to the same high school (HSPVA) and same college (DePaul University) as I. My playwriting professors (Dean Corrin and Carlos Murillo) fawned over him, and his picture was featured prominently on my route from Playwriting class to rehearsal.

My conversation with Matt was life changing. At the time I had doubts about moving back to Houston. Was it the right thing? Matt said yes. He told me that Houston is the wild west of theater. As a ninth generation Texan this appealed to my instinctual existence. Houston, with it’s potential for great avant-garde work and endless supply of young oil money, was my mecca. Where else is there money flowing right now? Where else is the theater scene not dominated by huge money making theaters? I flew back in June with unending excitement.

Of course, like any young artist, I was nervous. Was there any really any money left in the arts? Was there any reason I should realistically be able to make a living off of my work? I had a job set up at Main Street Theater’s Summer Camp, but where would I get to playwright? Where would I get to enhance theater? Where would my four years of suffering through college pay off?

The answer was sent to me via Facebook message from my former high school theater teacher, Stephanie Wittels Wachs (co-founder of Rec Room with Matt Hune). Stephanie asked me to stage manage and help write Dead Rockstar Sing-A-Long Club 2016. I said yes, duh yes.

Now, six months later, my life is dedicated to Rec Room. My career is dedicated to Rec Room. When I’m not teaching theater (which is also great, I love Main Street, but this about Rec Room) I’m either co-working or bartending or running lights/sound or stage managing or hanging with Iris Wachs (Steph’s 3 year old) at 100 Jackson Street.

Why Houston? Because there is a place here where my voice matters.


Written by Grace Rosenwinkel Cunyus, Production and Literary Fellow

A Day In the Life of Rec Room

Friday morning, 10:03am the bell rings at the middle school where I teach drama. Unlike the unfortunate souls who still have 8+ years of school left, I’m done for the day and am off to co-work at Rec Room. 

I come through the double doors and am greeted by Mike Wachs, husband of co-owner Stephanie Wittels Wachs. He offers me 19-layer dip leftover from filming the Rec Room Super Bowl Commercial (come hang with us, we’ve got good beer, good wine, and a giant screen to watch burly guys barrel into each other for hours on end.)

After brewing a big pot of ridiculously good cinnamon coffee from La Guadalupana  (leave it to the Wittels Wachs's to find the best coffee in town), my ten pounds of stuff and I settle in for some good old-fashioned, co-working.

People come in and out all day, paying $10 for unlimited coffee, Wi-Fi, and ten free pages of black and white printing. The coffee impresses everyone. Most people have declined the offer of beer or wine that is also available at 10am, but one day maybe one of these days we'll get some early drinkers. 

While the record player blasts David Bowie's Hunky Dory, morning fades to afternoon and the two Gregs (Greg Cote and Greg Starbird) and co-owner Matt Hune come in and work in the space, rec-novating (a term I coined when we did our big theater renovation a couple months ago). Both Gregs are fantastic people. Cote’s good for a back massage and Starbird is good for knowing how the heck to turn on a microphone! Matt is good for a dad joke or an inspirational quote.

Early afternoon, Rec Room resident Laura Gutierrez comes out of the back room looking radiant as always. She’s been rehearsing with Houston Ballet's Chun Wai Chan on an original, site-specific interactive dance piece which will premier on February 16th and 17th. Tickets here! Like most people at Rec Room, she seems pretty stoked to be there.

As 5:00pm creeps up, Tasha Gorel in all of her glory swings open the double glass doors. Tasha, hair in a gravity defying up do, is Rec Room’s house manager. She's the one who greets you from behind the box office counter whenever you come to see a show. Her lipstick game is stronger than Kylie Jenner’s. For now, she’s headed behind the bar to open up for Happy Hour. Our bar opens at 5pm every day and stays open until midnight. People come in and out and partake in whatever live event is going on in the theater. Sometimes it’s a play, sometimes it’s music, sometimes it’s standup comedy. There are no limits here!

My favorite show is Hump Night, a live dating show where we pull people from the audience to set up on a date with a pre-determined human who sits behind a screen on stage. Hilarious stuff.

At the end of the night Rec Room is quiet. Downtown Houston is dark and pretty. I make sure all the counters are wiped down, the floor swept, the trash emptied. The last thing I see before I lock up is our ghost-light. Lit a week ago in the name of keeping our space a safe and inviting one.


Written by Grace Rosenwinkel Cunyus, Production and Literary Fellow