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HowlRound Spotlights Austin Theatre

The online national theatre journal devotes a week to Austin
Robert Faires, 4:20pm, Thu. Apr. 18, 2013

Is Austin a theatre town? That's the question being pondered all week on HowlRound, a fascinating online center for theatre practitioners and thinkers to discuss the art of the stage – where it's headed and how its resources can be shared to better advance the art form.

As part of an ongoing series that examines how theatre is made and viewed in individual cities across the U.S., a series of essays was commissioned about theatre in Austin. Not surprisingly, Travis Bedard, who has logged more hours in the online national conversation about theatre than anyone else in town, was tapped to curate the series. He then invited a half-dozen past and present members of the local stage scene, including this writer, to contribute their thoughts, and the results have been posted throughout the week.

Bedard got the ball rolling with his own extremely perceptive take on the city's maker culture, "Call a Thing by Its Proper Name." That was followed by actor/tech guru Robert Matney tracking local progress in integrating technology in stage productions, "Hacking Theater in a Networked World." Caroline Reck of Glass Half Full Theatre has weighed in on Austin's puppet revolution and how it isn't necessarily a revolution at all. The Rude Mechanicals have explained why they consider themselves lucky to live and make work in Austin. Austin expat playwright/performer Daniel Alexander Jones recounts, in his characteristically lush and lyrical way, his love affair with the city and its theatre community in the Nineties. Still to come are musings from lighting designer Megan Reilly, director/ScriptWorks director/FronteraFest producer Christina Moore, and, in the cleanup spot, yours truly.

The pieces are of interest individually to anyone with an interest in what's happening on local stages, but taken together, they provide a valuable overview of the theatre scene from the Eighties through the present – what makes Austin theatre distinctive on the national scene.

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