Theater LaB Houston
This collection consists of programs, mailers, reviews, and photos of the majority of Theater LaB Houston's 150+ productions. Also included is historical and foundational documentation, architectural drawings of the renovation of 1706 Alamo Street, theater signage, promotional material, documentation about Thespian Park, original set design renderings from Rudy Zarka and Boris Kaplun, needlepoint ornaments by patron Kathleen Gay Peeples, and various autographs, playbills, and other media that inspired productions at the theater.
Missing Productions # 19, 33, 44, 46, 50, 63, 73, 75, 77, 85, 88, 102, 136, 152
- Majority of material found in 1993-2018
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Theater LaB Houston Collection must be obtained from the Houston Metropolitan Research Center or the appropriate copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
Theater LaB Houston (TLH) was a non-profit theater in Houston, Texas that was open from April 1993 to April 2018. It specialized in contemporary “Off-Broadway” productions. TLH was located at 1706 Alamo off Houston Avenue in the historic First Ward. Founder and Production Director, Gerald LaBita, renovated his parents’ old grocery store for the theater space. The venue was designed to be flexible allowing artistic freedom in the production space and set design. The intimate 65-seat arrangement was intended to invite the audience to participate in live theater. Their mission as to “produce and stage the very best in contemporary plays from nationally and internationally renowned playwrights and guest artists performing their original and unique productions.” TLH produced over 150+ productions which encompassed a mix of plays, musicals and special artist appearances. TLH launched Houston’s first and original Houston Fringe Theater Festival in 1997. TLH created the Fiesta Food 1st Ward Children’s Theater Project in 1997 which provided free children’s theater productions at Brock and Crockett Elementary Schools. In 1998 TLH began fundraising efforts for Thespian Park; a 6500 square foot parcel of land directly across from the 1706 Alamo theater building that included a landscaped green space and murals depicting the history of the theater designed by artist Rodolphe Zarka. The Alamo Street venue was sold in 2012 and from November 2013 until March 2017 TLH partnered with Obsidian Art Space and The MATCH – Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston. The final two productions were performed at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center. TLH achieved professional and artistic recognition from national theater publications, and state and local theater critics. The Houston Press in their Best of Houston award series honored TLH with various awards. TLH received awards for Best Theatrical Company, Best Actor (Poor Superman), Best Set Design (Avenue X), Best Theater Season (Britannia Theater), Best Villain (Shopping & Fucking), Best Comeback Actress (Blood Brothers) and Best Ensemble (Hysterical Studs).
Biographical / Historical
Gerald LaBita earned a B.A. in English from St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX and then pursed a career in Human Resources. LaBita served as a Director of Human Resources for 28 years for Finger Furniture Company. For eight years he also served as an adjunct instructor at Houston community college in Human Resources Management. During this time, LaBita was active in local theater, participating in acting, stage managing, directing, lighting and set design. In November 1990 LaBita founded Theater LaB Houston a non-profit theater devoted exclusively to contemporary Off-Broadway productions. LaBita opted to open the theater in the building that once housed his parent’s grocery store. As the building was being renovated, he established a board and developed a business plan for the theater. LaBita traveled through the year to other major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto and Edinburg to seek out, select and negotiate bringing guest artists, plays, and musicals to Theater LaB Houston. LaBita worked various roles within the theater from being the Managing Director, Building Engineer, and Box Office Manager.
12 Linear Feet (9 doc boxes, 3 flat boxes, 2 frames, 1 sign)
Language of Materials
Series 1 Gerald Blaise LaBita
Series 2 History and Development
Series 3 Signage
Series 4 Promotional
Series 5 Seasons and Festivals
Series 6 Productions
Series 7 Thespian Park
Photos associated to productions: ID format: RG E0100 – Production # -Photo #
Photos associated to history of Theater/Space: ID format: RG E 0100-Box # - Folder # - Photo #
Videos associated with productions: ID format: RG E0100 – Production # - Moving Image #
Videos associated with seasons and history of Theater/Space: ID format: RG E 0100 - Moving Image #
Please contact the reference desk to inquire about viewing the videos.
Note on Photo Identification
Processed by Abra Schnur and Claudia Cardenas, Novemeber 2019
- First Ward (Houston, Tex.) Subject Source: Local sources
- Theaters -- Texas -- Houston Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Houston History Research Center Repository