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Interview: Greater Tuna's Jaston Williams on Art and Activism

Phil Konstantin, via Wikipedia



The Texas Cultural Trust hosts the Texas Medal of Arts AwardsMarch 4-5 in Austin.  Since 2001, the awards have spotlighted highly creative Texans and generous patrons of the arts.

KUT News spoke with Jaston Williams, one of this year’s honorees. Williams and his collaborator Joe Sears are being recognized for writing and starring in the legendary satiric play series "Greater Tuna."

  • On how it feel to be selected for a 2013 Medal award:
“It’s marvelous. I’m a native Texan. I was born here. I realized personally, when my ship came in, when the Tuna stuff started to happen, and I had the kind of personal and financial security to live anywhere, you realize you’re where you want to be.”

  • Why Vera Carp – one of Williams' characters in Greater Tuna – is not very happy about this award:
“She’s not happy about it at all, you know, because she didn’t get it…she won’t get near it. No, no, no. She called me last night and gave me her lawyer’s number. She’s litigious. She went to TCU. She’s a TCU girl. They get a little bitter, you know, after the first face lift.”

  • On how important these awards are to the cultural life of Texas:
“They are vital. When I think that we will be up there with the likes of, historically, Robert Rauschenberg, the Asleep at the Wheel folk, Tommy Lee Jones, on and on … This year, Steve Miller is being recognized …one of my favorite musicians back when I first met Joe … the Kimbell Museum people, my favorite museum in the world.”

  • On the forms activism has taken in Williams’ work:
"This is the thing about Texans. We get involved…Our activism has been total…everything we sold went to fight AIDS. We were on the streets early on when the politicians wouldn’t mention it…Just our writing itself is a form of political activism."