A Tuna Almanac: Facts About the Shows and Their Creators

Facts about the Tuna shows and their creators, and a guide to the characters in the plays.

Joe Sears is a native of Bartlesville, Okla., and a graduate of Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.

Jaston Williams grew up in Crosbyton, Texas, and attended San Jacinto Junior College in Houston.

The two met in 1973 at the First Repertory Company of San Antonio, at auditions for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Director Ed Howard bankrolled the first production of Greater Tuna with his life savings: $10,000.

Three months after opening Greater Tuna off-Broadway at Circle in the Square, Sears and Williams were booked on Late Night With David Letterman (Jan. 5, 1983).

In 1985 and 1986, Greater Tuna was the most performed play in the U.S.

Joe and Jaston played a command performance for George and Barbara Bush at the White House in 1989, then again for Barbara Bush and a party of congressional wives in 1990.

Following a December 1994 run of A Tuna Christmas on Broadway, Joe Sears received a 1995 Tony Award nomination for best actor in a play.

Sears and Williams have performed Greater Tuna at least 2,750 times and A Tuna Christmas more than 1,300 times.

In 2000, Sears and Williams wrote the libretto to a new opera, Ocheata's Wedding, commissioned by the OK Mozart International Music Festival.

  • More of the Story

  • The Secret History of Tuna

    Tuna isn't the only Texas town with which actor-writers Jaston Williams and Joe Sears can be closely identified. Austin has played a significant role in the development of their town, and in return Sears and Williams have changed the face of the capital city.
  • Who's Who in Tuna

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle