I went to Austin, Texas this months to do a recce for David Leddy’s show, Susurrus. I loved the city and found it a heady blend of wonderful Southern hospitality and kindness mixed with inspiring liberal and progressive politics and an ardent determination to “Keep Austin Weird”
While I was there, I met with Lana Lesley, one of the Artistic Directors of a theatre company called the Rude Mechanicals. Lana and the others I met were warm and generous with their time and we talked about everything from narrative theatre to the cost of prescriptions on the NHS.
Before I went to meet with her, I did a bit of research into her company. In their “About” section, I found a brilliant bit of writing, which I am sharing here because it continues to inspire me and because it resonates with a clang to me, here in Glasgow.
We are hard on this city of ours, sometimes. Reading things like this makes me appreciate Glasgow with fresh eyes and renewed determination to keep working, keep building and keep Glasgow weird.
“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.”
You can read more about the Rude Mechs by clicking here.