This week we bring the Austin, Texas based Rude Mechs to Boston for the first time. I traveled there last year to witness the work of this young company about which I had heard so much and with such enthusiasm. I wasn’t disappointed. The piece I saw, a carefully crafted revival of Richard Schechner’s famous 60’s staging of DIONYSUS IN 69, connects in many ways to what they will be performing here, THE METHOD GUN. It provides a glimpse into the sensibilities of this special ensemble.
Why, you might ask, would anyone wish to recreate DIONYSUS IN 69? If ever there was a piece designed to rock the sensitivities of a particular decade, it’s DIONYSUS IN 69 with it’s attempt to break down the barrier between the performer and the spectator and including, in the spirit of a bacchanal, a good deal of nudity while cloaked in the respectability of its roots in Euripides’ THE BACCHAE.
This was not a contemporary 2009 interpretation of the 1968 work, but rather a faithful reenactment of it. They carefully scrutinized Schechner and Brian De Palma’s film, DIONYSUS, which included excerpts of the stage production and even brought Schectner, the long-time head of the Performance Studies Department at New York University (NYU) and a truly seminal figure in the history of American Theater in the past half century, to Austin to supervise the final phase of the rehearsal.
So why do it? Well, it turns out that at least one of the members of the Rude Mechs ensemble studied under Schechner at NYU, and others in the group deservedly respected Schehners teaching and considerable body of work. They wanted to revive the project to gain a better understanding and insight into Richard Schechner’s genius and to pay their respects to someone who has inspired their work – to celebrate a mentor.
That sentiment carries over to what you will see in Boston. When you enter the theatre for the Rude Mech’s performance of METHOD GUN, you will find on your seat a 3 by 5 card and pencil. Soon you’ll be asked to write the name of someone who had a profound influence on your life. Anyone. A teacher, coach, parent, friend, relative… the performance turns out to be a homage to them all.
And the Rude Mech’s turn out to be one of those special young ensembles that explore (as every generation must) the future boundaries of the theatre by examining, respecting, and transforming the past into their own current aesthetic.
It all carries forward in METHIOD GUN, the final 20 minutes of which I guarantee will both dazzle and move you in surprising ways that you will not soon forget.