Keep Austin Weird! And go there to make theater! Read my piece on the Austin theater scene over at Backstage.
In recent decades the population of Austin, Texas, has exploded almost as much as its craving for groundbreaking theater. Thanks to booming tech and entertainment industries, there is a higher demand for art than there are arts organizations producing it. If you’re an actor who marches to the beat of your own drum, pack up your wildest artistic impulse and take it to Austin.
“Austin has grown so much and so fast,” says Nathan Jerkins, associate artistic director of Penfold Theatre Company. “We need more places to produce, so if you can’t find it, you make it.” Many artists refer to Austin as a “maker’s town,” a breeding ground for emerging talent with a distinctly offbeat charm. Much like its renowned music scene, the city’s theaters—from the eccentric devised work of the Rude Mechanicals to ZACH Theatre, the state’s oldest continuously operating company—are fueled by a youthful, entrepreneurial energy. Many burgeoning artists find creative outlets in the city’s parks, warehouses, and bar basements.