Shawn Sides


Doris Duke Artist Award, 2015
Theatre

Austin, TX

Shawn Sides is performer, director, and Co-Producing Artistic Director of the ensemble-based theatre collective Rude Mechanicals (Rude Mechs) in Austin, TX. She co-founded Rude Mechs in 1995, co-conceiving and directing their first devised work, curst & shrewd (1997). Since then, she has distinguished herself as a director and performer receiving accolades for several Rude Mechs shows, including Stop Hitting Yourself (2014), a commission from LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater, Now Now Oh Now (2012), The Method Gun (2007), and a ‘re-enactment’ of the Performance Group’s Dionysus in 69 (2009, co-directed with Madge Darlington). With Rude Mechs, she has been awarded multiple MAP Fund grants, a NEFA National Theater Project grant (2011), and a Creative Capital grant (2006). She also received the Alpert/Hedgebrook Residency Prize for Women Playwrights (2010). She is currently working with Rude Mechs on Field Guide, a stage adaptation of the film The Brothers Karamazov, an English translation of the great Russian novel.

  • Shawn Sides- Stop Hitting Yourself (2013) : /122125714
    Stop Hitting Yourself (2013)
  • Shawn Sides- Now Now Oh Now (2012) : /122128663
    Now Now Oh Now (2012)
  • Shawn Sides- Method Gun (2008) : /33561503
    Method Gun (2008)
  • Photo Credit: Erin Baiano
    Stop Hitting Yourself (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Jeremy M. Lange
    Now Now Oh Now (2012)
  • Photo Credit: Erin Baiano
    Stop Hitting Yourself (2013)
  • Photo Credit: Erin Baiano
    Stop Hitting Yourself (2013)

What are the creative challenges you face as an artist?

I’m not a painter or musician or dancer, so cultivating a daily practice is almost impossible because, as a theatre director making devised work, making art is never a solitary experience for me. I need a whole cast in a room to “practice.” Trying to negotiate schedules around my and my colleagues’ rococo calendars becomes increasingly difficult. It’s just a given at this point that the entire species is scheduled out of our wits. No one has time for visiting with family or cooking dinner or non-working vacation or seeing other people’s work or taking a shower. So my biggest challenge is setting aside the indispensable time for failure. We can’t make anything good until we make a hundred terrible things and that takes a lot of time; time that, in the moment, feels “wasted.” And we can’t make one hundred failures until we get the whole posse in the room, failing together.