They’re back and it’s your fault! You know them! You went to school with them and lived next door to them for years. You learned more about their lives over the dinner table than you ever cared to and still year after year you want to see more and more of them. Face it; you just can’t get enough of the twenty-four hysterical residents of the imaginary town of Tuna, Texas. Well, you got your wish because co-authors Joe Sears and Jaston Williams are coming to TPAC December 6-11 with “A Tuna Christmas”. You’ll never be able to look at Charles Dickens in quite the same light again. While waiting to do a one night only performance in Baton Rouge as the first performing troupe in the Gulf Coast area in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina, Jaston Williams took time to talk with O&AN about his work. For more information or to order tickets visit www.tpac.org, www.ticketmaster.com and www.greatertuna.com.
DK: Do you remember the first performance you ever had in Nashville?
JW: That was over ten years ago I do know that. Probably more like 12. We love coming there. Nashville is one of the places that really excites me when I see it on the itinerary.
Not only is the city a great place to be but TPAC is also one of the best venues in the country. The people who run it are phenomenal. We have hired a number of people onto our crew after we met them at TPAC.
DK: How long has it been since you have been to Nashville?
JW: We were here for the “Foreigner” two years ago this spring. Nashville is a big stop for us. We really love coming here so much that we try to get as much rest as possible before coming to town because we know so many people here.
DK: There aren’t many people who are able to make a 26-year partnership like the one that you and Joe Sears share work. What is the secret to your amazing chemistry onstage after all this time?
JW: I really think that the only reason that it has worked so long is because we had a really strong friendship in place before we ever started working together. We had already gone through all of the friendship experiences so we were well prepared beforehand. Many of the people in the company that we work in have been with us from the beginning as well. We’re all a very close family with all the good and bad that entails.
DK: What is the inspiration behind your phenomenal material?
JW: We wanted to take on the moral majority and their idiotic mentality so we initially started creating a satire. We both grew up in a small town so we had affection for these people and their varied personalities. We loved their pleasant sides in spite of their failings.
DK: You have been performing these works since 1982. How do you feel it relates to the current state of affairs in the world?
JW: If you want to know where we get our material just read the paper! The moral majority was kind of on the ropes for a while but these idiots have come back in force. I really think we’ve got them on the ropes again. We’re building new prisons down here in Texas to handle all the politicians that are going to jail here soon.
DK: With the rich rivers of material that are being presented to you in the news these days do you perhaps see yourself writing a fourth Tuna project?
JW: The idea has been tossed around for a while now so it is very possible. Being a satirist today is the easiest job there is. It’s very tempting. There was a time when I had said definitely no more, but we have so much fun on the road and on the stage.
DK: Theatergoers in Nashville are always happy to see you perform any of the three Tuna pieces with Joe Sears, but will we ever get a chance to see any of your other one-man works?
JW: I wrote an autobiographical one-man show last year called “I’m Not Lying” dealing with being a Texan and being a gay Texan and everything else that entails. People come up to me afterwards and ask me how much of it is true, and I have to tell them every bit. They always seem shocked.
I really am lucky to be alive. I survived the ’70s! I’ve been telling people these stories for years and someone finally told me that I needed to write it all down and copyright it so that’s what I did. I also have another one that I’ve been working on in the same vein called “Cowboy Noises” that I’m sure Nashville will adore, so maybe soon I’ll get to show them here.
DK: You probably stay very busy as a father as well.
JW: I do. I have an eight-year-old adoptive son and he keeps me on my toes. When I’m not doing theatre I’m trying desperately to catch up with him as he runs though the house.