I disagree with Dan Solomon’s review of the play, “Austin Is a Place (You Are Here)” [Exhibitionism
, the Arts, April 26]. If someone is attending the play, they know it is about Austin. I don’t think the problems of a growing population surprise anyone: gentrification, families being squeezed out, increased competition for small business owners, strain on natural resources. The episodes of cedar fever were a brilliant way to mark the passage of time.
The set design was creative: elegant yet simple, contemporary yet nostalgic, symbolic yet concrete. It being set in a former Safeway of my youth was emblematic of the subject at hand.
The play need not elaborate on people’s hopes, dreams, or opportunities. Those are universal themes, yet each person’s dream is unique to themselves. That the performance didn’t specifically enumerate those dreams beyond the basics of family, the creative or productive process, or providing for oneself or family let the viewer transcend the spoken word (or lack thereof), and put themselves into the play – making “Austin Is a Place” utterly accessible.
Residents in many “dream” towns could identify with “Austin Is a Place,” though perhaps without cedar fever. Towns that come to mind include Sedona, Ariz., Taos and Santa Fe, N.M., Portland, Ore., and Boulder, Colo. While visiting those cities, it becomes a bit of a game wondering if I could see myself living there. I remember a gas station attendant in Santa Fe saying to me in 1991, “It’s getting to where the people that are from here can no longer afford to live here.” In wondering where the next Santa Fe was, we have our answer in Taos. So where is the next Taos? Each town has become a victim of its own beauty. Which left me wondering when I left the play, “Where is the next Austin?”