Just about everyone in Texas knows the name of Jaston Williams, as one of the two men who are famous for bringing Tuna, Texas to life on stages across the nation. Jaston has been performing for over 30 years all over the United States, from Broadway to the White House and back home to Texas. Recently, Jaston has performed a series of one man shows about his experiences as an openly gay actor in Texas, the follies of his youth, and creating one of the most icon series of plays in Texas history. Now Jaston is back on the boards in an incredibly bold, and insightful new play about the personalities you find in any neighborhood bar, titled “A Wolverine Walks Into A Bar.” So we at Austin Entertainment Weekly took the time to ask Jaston Williams some questions about “A Wolverine Walks Into A Bar”
AEW: Jaston you have written many shows inspired by your upbringing in Texas, what specifically inspired A Wolverine Walks Into A Bar?
Jaston: I was fortunate enough to have a home in the French Quarter in New Orleans for a part of my life and I am sure the germ of this show started there, although I certainly didn’t know it at the time. Bars, which serve as the setting for this show, have much in common with psychiatrist couches. I sometimes wonder if the shrinks ought to knock back a few rounds with their patients but people get touchy about ethics and such. The characters that Lauren and I play are not all drinkers but they all have something to say and being in a bar atmosphere makes it easier for them to open up and be themselves. For the most part, a bar will let you in regardless of your opinions or beliefs. Of course, you may get tossed out on your ass in the street if you express such beliefs in too colorful a way. It’s always interesting. On the other hand, some people really love to be the only sober person in the room. Don’t try it during Mardi Gras. It will scare the hell out of you.
AEW: What can fans of Tuna look forward to in this? Any familiar faces or character types?
Jaston: None of these are Tuna characters at all. Tuna is a satire. These characters, although not without their humor, are real. I don’t even want to think about Tuna characters at the moment. Except for Petey, they would have voted for Trump. Let’s just say we’re not speaking at the moment.
AEW: What part of creating a show do you love? What do you the about the process?
Jaston: The creative part I like the most is working with people I love and care for and the group in Wolverine is the best. They are a Godsend.
AEW: When you create a show what is the first thing you start with?
Jaston: I try to start by attempting to connect with a seed of humanity and see where that may lead.
AEW: What other things are on the horizon for you as an actor, author, director?
I will be appearing as Scrooge in A Christmas Carol at ZACH. We open just after Wolverine closes. I will be appearing on the Blues Cruise for a week in January with my friend Kimmie Rhodes. I am completing a novel and working with a project with my old friend Gary P. Nunn.
AEW: What Advice would you give to younger theatre artists who want to follow your footsteps?
Jaston: I give them the same advice that was given to me by the renowned British actor, Ronald Ibbs, “ If you can do anything else and be happy then do it.” Then he added, “I know that you can’t.” He was right.