This is Our Town

I am something of an Austin theatre scene booster. I haven’t been at all shy about that. I am rightfully proud of the raw amount of theatre (and art in general) that goes on in a town that has a population only about 30% of Brooklyn’s’. One of my criticisms of the scene is the lack of a regional theatre to anchor the identity of the region and serve as an importer/exporter to the nexus of American theatre. There is justreally no place to grow to.

Of course that’s also a strength in what is a D-I-Y town, do your thing and make it on your own.

It also means that there isn’t a Big Boy in town to root against. There isn’t a Giant in town that is sucking the air out of the room for the indies. There are two larger theatres that pay better, but they’re really just older successful versions of what everyone in town is doing. One a little less adventurous and one a bit more, but how do you root against the theater that sits in the big boy seat and has as it’s “In Trouble Need to Make Money” season:

Rent
Hairspray
The Break-Up Notebook
Fiction written and directed by Steven Dietz
The Book of Grace written and directed by Suzan-Lori Parks
August: Osage County
and the yearly Santaland Diaries

Yeah. That’s a tough life. Absolutely there are commercial choices, but they have salaries to pay. And there are commercial choices and there are COMMERCIAL choices.

Way to go Zach! thank you for challenging yourselves every year.

 
 

 
 

  • dansolomon

    That is a shockingly progressive calendar. A world premiere from Suzan Lori Parks in Austin? Holy cow. Is she teaching at UT next year?

    –d

  • I haven't seen that she is, though I wouldn't be surprised to see a lecture fellowship pop up to help support her stay.

  • monicareida

    While Suzan-Lori Parks directing and writing a new play seems progressive, the rest of this is really commercial. Just having Rent, Hairspray and Santaland Diaries is really commercial.

  • But that's what I mean by commerical v. COMMERCIAL.

    Rent and Hairspray are commercial but they're NOT Oklahoma and Birdie. and Santaland isn't Christmas Carol.

  • Robert Faires

    It's also worth pointing out that Zach is about to double the size of its mainstage and will be needing to fill more than 400 seats a night instead of 230. Some of those commercial choices are Dave Steakley figuring out how to do that and still be true to his personal aesthetic, a lot of which is bound up in pop-rock music. Not pretending to be an impartial observer, since my wife is on staff there and I've worked there, but that's one more piece of the Zach puzzle right now.

    And re: Suzan-Lori. Her play won't be premiering here; it just had a run at the Public in New York. But she will be directing it for the first time. And there aren't any UT ties. She really likes Austin and Zach and Dave (based on 365 Days/Plays) and feels like this is one of the places where she could develop work. And he's cultivating that relationship.