About Us: Mission / History
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Rude Mechs is an ensemble-based theatre collective from Austin, TX, committed to:
- Creating original, live performance for the new canon;
- Serving as cultural ambassadors for our home city and state as we tour nationally and internationally;
- Mentoring emerging theatre artists;
- Articulating the practice of collaborative creation and advocating for devised work in the field;
- Sharing material resources with the community;
- Providing free or low-cost work space for artists of all disciplines;
- Keeping our productions and programs affordable;
- Engaging the audience as collaborators in our art-making process; and
- Fostering confidence and creativity in young women through the power of performance.
Since 1995, Rude Mechs has created a mercurial slate of original theatrical productions that represent a genre-defying cocktail of big ideas, cheap laughs, and dizzying spectacle. What these works hold in common are the use of play to make performance, the use of theaters as meeting places for audiences and artists, and the use of humor as tool for intellectual investigation. We tour these performances nationally and abroad; maintain The Off Center, a performance venue in Austin for arts groups of every discipline; present nationally recognized artists; and run Grrl Action, a year-round arts mentoring program for teenage girls.
As we create new works for adventurous theatre-goers, we seek to demystify the art-making process, and we work hard to foster real communication with and responsiveness to our patrons by holding workshops, talkbacks, and open rehearsals along the way. We remain adamant that we will not make work we ourselves could not afford to go see and continue to offer sliding scale and pay-what-you--can nights to keep our work accessible to all, regardless of economic status.
In 1999, Rude Mechs assumed the management of The Off Center, a performance warehouse in East Austin. The Off Center houses a flexible 100-seat theatre, the administrative offices of Rude Mechs, and studios for visual artists. In 2010, we renovated and opened The Off Shoot, a classroom dedicated to the work of Grrl Action, our year-round arts mentoring program for teenaged girls. The quality and innovation of the company’s theatrical productions have firmly established Rude Mechs as one of Austin’s most highly valued cultural assets.
Rude Mechs is an ensemble-based theatre company that operates with a full company of 28 members. We create original plays that we produce in Austin, TX, and tour nationally and internationally. Our touring productions include "The Method Gun", “Get Your War On”, “How Late It Was, How Late”, “Cherrywood”, and “Lipstick Traces.” Our Off-Broadway productions include “Get Your War On” and “Lipstick Traces.” Our production "The Method Gun" was selected for the 34th Annual Humana Festival of New American Plays.
Rude Mechs has received over 180 local and national awards and nominations for our work. We’ve enjoyed two Off-Broadway premieres and toured to top national venues such as The Walker Arts Center (Minneapolis, MN), The Wexner Center (Columbus, OH), and Woolly Mammoth (Washington D.C.). We seek to participate in the international community of artists by contributing to festivals such Austria’s SommerSzene, the Galway Arts Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (winner Total Theatre Award for Best New Play by an Ensemble), the Kiasma Festival, the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival, and the Under the Radar Festival in NYC. Our emergence into this community was marked by a feature in the New York Times that identified Rude Mechs as one of three companies in the country “making theatre that matters.” We are deeply proud to represent Texas as a home for cutting-edge theatrical practice.
The artistic directors of Rude Mechs often compare ourselves to a cycling team because of the fluid manner with which we switch roles—when one of us is having a hard time another swoops in to take the lead. We often compare the full company to a band because of the various harmonies you get when you combine the talents of the individual members and their particular training, histories, and experiences. But perhaps the most astonishing description is the one that lacks all metaphorical drapery—Rude Mechanicals is made up of six artistic directors who have chosen, day after day, to commit to each other for 15 years. As a company of almost 30 actors, designers, and crew we apprentice ourselves to the idea that the best work is made by combining the depth of multiple points of view with the discipline to speak as a single voice.
We are lucky to live in Austin. We are lucky to live in a city where the press engages the arts in ways that are deep and supportive.
We are lucky to live in a community this creative and hard working and confident and intelligent. All this new work and all these open minds. We are lucky to live in a community where artists support one another, rather than compete with one another – where we lift each other up instead of trying to tear each other down.
We are lucky to have so many amazing creative people that can make work with us, that are interested in making new work of their own, that understand failure is a symptom of working well and working hard and working right, not a predictor of future success.
We are lucky to live in a city where the audience is well-read and has a good sense of humor and brags on itself and yet somehow doesn’t take itself too seriously. We are lucky to have an audience that wants to participate in the creation of the play – that knows it isn’t finished until they show up and bring their own associations and dreams to the piece. And yet an audience that holds us accountable – with honesty but never dismissiveness.
We are lucky to live in a city that is full of bands and reads a lot of books and likes the outdoors and knows that a creative community isn’t just the money-generating ‘movers and shakers’ but also the teenage punk rockers and the quirky artist who builds spaces from trash and the hippies with their butterfly bicycles and the students making films and plays and music and their own new thing, whatever the new form will be.
We are always asked why we chose to live in Austin, so far from the artistic meccas on the coasts. Why would we have chosen anywhere else? Here we have friends and colleagues who know the value of a life lived making art with comrades and taking time to relax on the patio and share a beer and not get all het up about ‘making it’ because ‘making it’ isn’t how much money is in your bank account or how famous you are, or how ‘respected’ or ‘hot’. But how rich the hours in your day are, surrounded by people you love and admire, in a beautiful place that is both a safety net and the trapeze high above it.
If you would like a copy of our Form 990 Return, contact us at our offices or via email at info AT rudemechs DOT com, or look it up on the Foundation Center website.
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