Rude Mechs

They've never been so happy

Need more proof that Austin's own Rude Mechanicals are on the national radar for making new theatre? Try this: The collective has just received a prestigious little grant of $20,000 to support its next homegrown production. What makes it noteworthy – on top of that five-figure dollar amount – is that it's from the National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development Program, a new initiative launched by the federal agency in partnership with the Washington, D.C., theatre Arena Stage. It's intended to form, according to NEA Chair Dana Gioia, "a small but superb national network to develop new works from across the country." From 120 applicants, only five companies were chosen for NPDP's inaugural round of Distinguished New Play Development Projects.

The project that earned the Rudes this distinction is titled I've Never Been So Happy. As usual at this stage of development, the company is somewhat vague on what the show will be – maybe it's about the American folktale and "the frontier of parenthood" or maybe a sort of Western carnival with maybe a documentary film about the Rude Mechs' parents and maybe a margarita and/or salsa competition and maybe a dachshund race and maybe ... well, you get the idea. About all that's set at present is that it's a musical with a score by Peter Stopschinski and book and lyrics by Kirk Lynn and that it's being workshopped in parts: scenes two, four, and seven (the father-daughter story) in December; scenes one, three, and six (the mother-son story) in April. The whole show, including a climactic scene nine, is scheduled to premiere in September 2009. Then in the fall of 2010, it will be presented at Arena Stage, along with the other four projects chosen for the first round of the NEA Distinguished New Play Development Project.

Lynn won another sweet slice of recognition from the NEA program: His play The Wrestling Patient, a collaboration with Obie Award-winning Austin director Katie Pearl and Boston actress Anne Gottlieb, was one of nine finalists for NEA Outstanding New American Plays. Alas, grants were awarded only to two of the nine, but the honor stands, Kirk! The Wrestling Patient, produced by SpeakEasy Stage Company, premieres next March in Boston.

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Rude Mechs, Kirk Lynn, I've Never Been So Happy, National Endowment for the Arts, Peter Stopschinski, Katie Pearl

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