'Pale Idiot': Return to the Rudeness That Started It All

As a celebration of 10 years of rudeness, the Rude Mechanicals are reviving the show that started it all, Kirk Lynn's absurdist comedy 'Pale Idiot'

Going on 10 years ago, a group of friends wanted to start a new Austin theatre company. They asked playwright Kirk Lynn to write something especially for them that they could do on the cheap, and Lynn penned Pale Idiot, a dark absurdist comedy that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the plays of Ionesco and Beckett. Thus began the Rude Mechanicals, Austin's now nationally known theatre collective, the purveyors of the perennially popular Lipstick Traces, Requiem for Tesla, and How Late It Was, How Late. As a kind of remembrance and celebration, the company is reviving the show that started it all, and we asked director Michael Mergen about this latest, very special production.

Austin Chronicle: So what prompted the revival?

Michael Mergen: I saw the original production, and it stuck in my imagination. I was a UT film student at the time, and since then, the more theatre I've done the more it's come back to me, and I've just wanted to attack it. I must have talked about this with Kirk at least once a year, and I was talking with him about it last year when Lana Lesley [one of the Rudes' five co-producing artistic directors – "copads"] heard us and walked up and said, "OK, then do it."

AC: Any changes in the script or the show that reflect how far the Rude Mechs have come?

MM: Company members fill four of the six roles, but they're newer company members, which was kind of a choice I made. When I was thinking about the casting for this, the company for the first time in a couple of years had just invited a bunch of new artists in that we'd recently worked with – most of them on Cherrywood, people like Heather Hanna and Jodi Jinx. Because it's the 10th season, we have all these new artists that weren't here 10 years ago, and because it's a Second Stage production, which is kind of a playground for newer company members, it was an idea that the copads got behind and really liked.

AC: What was it about the play that stuck with you all this time?

MM: That there's institutional idiocy everywhere and that the people in charge are really kind of scary and not all-there, and yet somehow are incredibly appealing on some level for that very reason. It reminds me of the best Marx Brothers comedies. It's that classic absurd comedy where everything makes perfect sense, but when you look at it closely, nothing makes sense. You get caught up in the logic of the words and you arrive at these incredibly bizarre conclusions wondering, 'How did I get here?'


Pale Idiot runs Dec. 1-17, Thursday-Saturday, 8pm, at the Off Center, 2211-A Hidalgo. For more information, call 476-RUDE or visit www.rudemechs.com.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Kirk Lynn, Pale Idiot, Rude Mechanicals, Lipstick Traces, Requiem for Tesla, How Late It Was, How Late, Michael Mergen, Lana Lesley, Cherrywood, Heather Hanna, Jodi Jinx

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