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Rude Mechs is crazy proud to announce our 20th anniversary season. That’s twenty years of championing collectivity and new work through ambitious ensemble-based experimental theatre productions, the management of our performance space, The Off Center, our education, outreach and community programs, and a strong creative relationship with our audience and artistic community in Austin and around the country. We want to continue to make a deep and positive cultural impact on our city.Hannah_logo

In 1996, we embarked on 20 years of loving, fighting, breaking up, getting back together, getting counseling, more fighting, more loving, and within and on top: a constant flurry of building killer art, touring it around, and bringing it back home again. In 1999, we took over The Off Center from Morgan Knicely and Steve Jones. Under our management, each year about 150 music, theatre, dance, film and visual artists present work to roughly 16,000 patrons.

Rude Mechs, a full company of 28 members, is led today by four of its co-founders, Darlington, Lesley, Lynn and Sides, along with Thomas Graves, who joined as Co-Producing Artistic Director in 2008 after four years of company membership. Two decades into this experiment, we remain a woman-led organization that has outlasted housing bubbles, tech bubbles, the Intel shell, the “sharing economy,” and Uber. We’ve survived as an experimental theatre company based in the State of Texas, in the face of its prohibitive policies on everything from education to reproductive rights, and in spite of its profound lack of public and private funding for the performing arts, and we are crazy proud of that.

A final year in The Off Center

In 2012, we signed our last 5-year lease term due to escalating rental rates. We will leave The Off Center on May 15, 2017. The performance community is facing the stark realities of Austin’s blistering real estate climate as we lose space after space, and we’re all bracing ourselves against the imminent uprooting of The Off Center. But do not despair. Instead, look for exciting news of our relocation to the next beautiful venue. We haven’t found it yet, but know this – we will not be chased out of our own hometown. We will not be destroyed. We are the Phoenix and we SHALL RISE!

By the end of this 20th anniversary season, you will have helped Rude Mechs to:

  • collaboratively created and produced 27 original full-length plays;
  • toured 49 times around the US and abroad with nine of our productions;
  • produced six plays written/created by other people;
  • co-presented shows by 23 solo-performance artists in our Throws Like a Girl series and Crossing Borders;
  • co-produced 24 shows in our Rude Fusion and Second Stage series;
  • hosted Black Arts Movement Festival for four years and Fusebox Festival for ten years;
  • managed a multi-disciplinary arts and culture venue in the heart of East Austin, providing the most affordable rental rates in town for 17 years;
  • served as the venue for over 120 independent performances per year by local Austin theatre and dance companies and performers, with an annual audience total of roughly 16,000.


Let’s put the arts at the center of Austin’s civic life.

We’ve been asked repeatedly what’s next? What new radical new amazing new thing will we do? How will we “re-brand” ourselves? We won’t. We think staying dedicated to collective art-making and creating original, live performance for the new canon is pretty fucking radical, so we’re sticking with it. And while we are doing this, we will also continue to create jobs for artists of all disciplines in Austin and to pay artists fair wages; to mentor and co-produce the work of emerging artists of all disciplines in Austin; to keep our programs, productions, and creative spaces affordable because economic status should not determine access to the arts; to manage a performing arts venue to keep our citizenry in the room together; and to establish sustainable practices for art-makers in Austin, TX. We are committed to making a deep and positive cultural impact on our city, and to embodying a model of collective creative leadership that results in kick-ass art.


Rude Mechs is scheduled to move out of The Off Center on May 15, 2017. We negotiated away our final ten years in the space in return for limiting our rent increase to just triple its original rate.

In the face of this change, and in response to a professional life of building a home for artists in Austin, and visiting artistic homes around the world as we tour our work, we are launching a new artistic vision called crushAUSTIN, and we are going to do exactly that—CRUSH IT, really really good. The kind of crushing that is so good it is transformative. We want to re-insert creativity into every nook and cranny of Austin. We want to create a state-of-the-art performance space that will serve as a generator for the very best new independent cultural productions. Not palatable fare, but the kind of shit that curls your toes and takes your breath away and makes you lose your mind. We want to scour its backside for inspiration in sites of actual cultural production and join forces with others in making work that matters. We want a forum for conversations between artists and audiences about the shape of things to come

crushAUSTIN will focus on “the city” as a collective and as a collaborative structure. Austin, for sale to the highest bidder, is in need of a refresher course in what matters. Austin has raised us, made us who we are, but now it needs some looking after, some care and attention as Austinites try to figure out who we are, what we value, and what our civic life looks like. When space is valued in dollars and cents, when the future is reduced to capital accrued, our most important contribution as an arts organization is to provide alternative ways of engaging in the now. Our mission has always been to find the humor, the sacred, and the how-it-could-be-otherwise, and to shake up how problems are approached. And while we are at it, we will reclaim the term “creative” and remind people that it is an adjective not a noun. It describes risk-taking, not risky investment. It is a dance that makes others laugh, or a confession that draws us together, or a challenging idea that threatens to offend with the boldness of its proposal.

Join the 20th Anniversary Giving Brigade By Donating Today

Go to our Support page to learn more about how we will use your hard-earned cash.

The 2016/2017 Schedule of Events

The company is overjoyed to have made it this far together, and we are commemorating our 20th year by celebrating with our community each month from October 2016 to June 2017. Join us!

We’re bringing back our old-school annual fundraiser “The Eye Ball”

A staged reading of Kirk Lynn’s latest stab at fixing Shakespeare’s worst plays

December 1 – 18: REQUIEM FOR TESLA
or I’ve Never Been So Happy, or something else awesome, we aren’t sure, so stay tuned…

A night of boozy games and screenings of Rude Mechs chestnuts

Let’s talk about why it’s radical to just make art together

A first look at the 27th original play from Rude Mechs

April 13 – 16: GUERILLA ARTIFACTS PROJECT (shhhhh)

May 12: BUH-BYE “BONFIRE” PARTY @ The Off Center

Our award-winning theatre camp for teens


A look back at productions 2001-2011