As most of you know, this is Puck's name for the group of amateur thespians who are rehearsing a play in the woods. They to please their Duke with a performance on his wedding day at night. "Rude" means "crude," and "mechanicals" refers to those who do manual labor. The Athenian gang includes a master carpenter, a weaver, a specialist carpenter (a "joiner'), a tinker, and a bellows-mender. There's is a name, like so many in Shakespeare, that sticks in the mind--especially in the minds of theatre folk. The Rude Mechanicals is the name of at least three working American theatre companies: one in New York, one in Michigan, one in Austin. Of course the Rude Mechanicals can''t compete with THEATREWORKS--a friend tells me there are 17 of those right now. We weren't the first when we came up with the name over 30 years ago, but we thought we were. A group of us were sitting around our kitchen on Tejon street thinking about starting a theatre company. We had no idea what to call it, and rejected any number of possibilities before THEATREWORKS flashed up and took us all by storm. Straightforward, industrial, hardworking, reliable, profitable and necessary as the Colorado Springs Utilities. Almost as soon as we had our name we had our first image: Shakespeare in a hard hat. No doubt this kind of spontaneous combustion occured nearly simultaneously in 17 other kitchens in America in 1975. If we had thought of the Rude Mechanicals we might have gone there too. Our production meetings often raise exactly the same questions as Shakespeare's gang: How are we going to make moonshine? How can we bring in a wall? Wouldn't a real lion on stage be too scary? Well, actually the lion hasn't come up yet. I won't say our mechanicals look exactly like our staff though they are about the same size and some would say they bear a famiuly resemblance--but I think the mechanicals are far too alert and enterprising a group to pass for a regional theatre company, don't you?
And believe it or not, this gang puts on a really good show, too.
Khris Lewin, August 18, 2009: It's nice to hear a little about the genesis of the THEATREWORKS moniker. I've often wondered about it, especially since it seems to be about the most popular name out there for theatrical outfits. I like the juxtaposition with a utility... it all comes together for me now. I'd like to see that Shakespeare in a hard hat image come back... warriors for the working-day and all that.