Eric Dyer has an interview with the folks from Austin’s Rude Mechanicals in BOMB Magazine, timed to arrive with the Rude Mechs’ “re-construction” of the Performance Group’s 1968 production Dionysus in 69 at New York Live Arts.
The Rude Mechs were a big deal for me back when I lived in Austin. Kirk Lynn was the first playwright I’d ever seen who worked with a collective to shape a devised theater piece; Lipstick Traces was an amazingly theatrical play that I still vividly remember; and Sarah Richardson was involved with both the Rude Mechs and Frontera@Hyde Park Theater (the theater where I briefly ran the literary department) and had this scrappy “let’s just put on a damn show” vibe that was super-inspirational.
The interview was, according to Dyer, “pieced together from many fragments: emails, poorly recorded phone calls, and letters exchanged through the mail (remember that?). The conversation is not linear and reflects the compositional process more or less characteristic of Radiohole and the Rude Mechanicals.”
Read the whole thing, but here’s a taste:
Eric Dyer What was your impulse at this time in your lives to take on Dionysus in 69 in this particular way, as a re-creation?
Lana Lesley We felt a need to contextualize our work for our audience. While it is not particularly experimental — to us it is very accessible — people tend to approach it as if they were not going to understand it and, therefore, they don’t. (laughter) We felt the need to contest this notion.
So Shawn came up with this idea to have a spaghetti dinner once a month; we could show people videos of works that influenced us and talk about why we do what we do the way we do it…but it became quickly apparent that actually there was not a lot of documentation of the work that has influenced us.
Madge Darlington Even when the documentation does exist, watching live performance on film or video is not ideal. With our “Contemporary Classics” series — where we re-perform seminal works — we are archiving theater in a different way, more like it’s traditionally done in dance. We’re embodying a repertoire of experimental theater.