More Strands on the Web

More Austin arts groups are continuing to make a home -- or at least a home page -- for themselves on the World Wide Web. Hardly a week goes by now without some theatre company or artist sending us an invitation to visit his/her/their new Web site. A recent trip to a few of these sites revealed that they not only connect local artists with potential new fans but they push these artists to define themselves in fresh ways and inspire some of them to new forms of creativity.

The Subterranean Theatre Company site at http://www.realtime.net/~kate offers the lowdown on all of the group's productions since its debut in 1988. Katherine Catmull has set up a separate page for every show, each with a photo from the production, a synopsis of the play, a cast list, and excerpts from reviews. The site has some handsome graphics and helpful links to pages for some of the playwrights whose work Subterranean has produced, plus a seductive promo for their next effort in June.

The Monks' Night Out site at http://www.io.com/~hagbard/monks.html greets you with a trio of big brothers (the "monks in the hood"), then gives you the chance to learn everything there is to know about this local comedy group. Jon Wiley has built a clever, funny site that complements the troupe's sensibility without skimping on real info, such as the tantalizing report on "The Big Stinkin' International Improv Festival" the company is producing in April. (How big? Fifteen groups from across the country have already contacted the Monks about coming.)

The RAT Conference home page at http://www.users.interport.net/~thieves.html is not maintained by an Austin group, but it has definite Austin connections and is the center of an interesting discussion about Austin at present. The page, maintained by New York's Thieves Theatre, serves as an online base for the loose affiliation of regional alternative theatres (or raggedy-ass theatres) known as RAT, of which five Austin theatre companies are part. (For more offline info on RAT, see the Chronicle's Oct. 13, 1995 issue or the December American Theatre magazine.) The page contains background on the RAT idea, a summary of/tone poem on the second RAT conference in Seattle, and talk about where the RATs might nest next. A Leap Day meet at the Mall of America was proposed at the Seattle confab (cheap fares, big potential for guerilla theatre), but some folks have since cooled on the idea, the most vocal being Jason Neulander of Salvage Vanguard Theater. In late December, Neulander sent e-mail to the RAT mailing list criticizing the MOA meet and suggesting the group instead pick up on an idea by playwright Erik Ehn for an "Austin rave" in August. Neulander's comments prompted a flurry of responses from RAT constituents, many of them favoring the Texas gathering. As a result, the RAT home page has instituted a dialogue section called "Austin Rave." Details to follow.

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