Theater Troupe Takes On Dostoyevsky at Yale Rep. How Rude!

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It’s hard to describe the theater collective Rude Mechs and its collaborative work on stage.

Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre commissioned the Austin-based group to create a new piece several years back and the result is Field Guide,which will receive its world premiere Jan. 26-Feb. 17 at New Haven’s Yale Repertory Theatre.

It’s a free-wheeling take on Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.Coincidentally one of the Rep’s earliest hits was The Idiots Karamazov in 1974 by Christopher Durang and Albert Innaurato, starring then-student Meryl Streep.

“We found out about that after we started working on it,” says Shawn Sides, one of the five artistic directors of the theater collaborative.

They started by exploring the idea of “how to be a good person” but soon realized they needed a narrative to hold the piece together. That’s when they turned to the Russian novel — “which is famously about how to be a good person” — and even fooled around with the 1958 Hollywood film.

Soon the collaborative’s theater piece became a thing unto itself.

“We all put in ideas for moments and scenes and monologues and text and choreography on note cards in a collage-y way,” says Sides, who also directs the show. “No good art is made without a big stack of notecards. Staples should be a sponsor!”

Sides says they foolishly thought they could arrive at an answer to their initial question. “The search is still there but —spoiler alert — we don’t have the answer on how to be a good person. But hmmm, wait. Maybe we should make the audience think we do have the answer so they’ll hang around for an hour and a half.”