Monthly Archives: September 2011

Interesting Facts About RUST

Did you know?

Here’s a few interesting things about the folks that help make productions like RUST happen:

Austin Bunn, who is also one of the cast members of RUST, has recently had his short story, “How to Win an Unwinnable War” published in The Atlantic.

Cast member Torrence O’Haire is also West Michigan’s own “The Starving Artist,” a private chef who is appearing all over town at local dining events.

RUST written by Austin Bunn, with Working Group Theatre features original music composed by Jared Wekenman from Paucity and Alex Hamel.  Check out some of Paucity‘s music here:

Spectrum Theatre (the location on the Grand Rapids Community College campus where Actors’ Theatre performs,) is also an ArtPrize venue.  When you come to see RUST, be sure an arrive a little early to take a look!

RUST is sponsored by Wyoming’s own Godwin Plumbing and American Standard.  These companies help make productions like this possible!

Tickets for RUST can be purchased at the Actors’ Theatre website ( or at the Box Office by calling (616)234-3946.  (Box office hours are 1:00PM – 5:00PM)

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RUST Review in The Grand Rapids Press

It was a fantastic opening night for RUST!  And the word is getting out – don’t miss this show!  RUST explores events that took place here in our hometown and takes a look at how the auto industry has effected the people in our community.

In honor of REVUE Magazine’s Beer Issue, publisher Brian Edwards recommended beer pairings for each of this weekend’s Best Bets: Grand Haven’s Art Walk, Actors’ Theatre Grand Rapids has RUST, Prospecto Musical Showcase & Sonic Experience, Boiling Pot Festival, and Mid-Life Crisis benefit for Kid’s Food Basket.  Check out the Best Bets recommendations on Fox 17.

The Grand Rapids Press writer Sue Merrell was at Actors’ for opening night – she gives RUST at Actors’ Theatre 3 stars out of 4!

‘Rust’ shines: Play tells story of GM plant closure in Wyoming
Published: Friday, September 30, 2011, 7:22 AM
By Sue Merrell | The Grand Rapids Press

Photo credit: Katie Greene | The Grand Rapids Press Dramatic threads: Relationships built around factory life help 'Rust' show how a workplace also becomes a community.

GRAND RAPIDS — The rhythmic pounding of a stamping machine could be heard in the background as a nearly full house of about 200 people gathered Thursday at Spectrum Theater for the debut performance of “Rust,” an ethnographic play about the 2008 closing of the General Motors plant in Wyoming.

The sound continued through the first scene or two, then it stopped. You couldn’t help but feel the void, like a giant heartbeat silenced.

Created by Grand Valley State University writing professor Austin Bunn and the Working Group Theatre, the play isn’t overly sad or maudlin, and it even has a few light moments.

But there is a towering sense of frustration and loss that runs through the comments of workers, even retired corporate executives, that Bunn interviewed.

Bunn portrays himself as this sort of bungling storyteller, who had an idealized vision of what the story should be and slowly discovered a different story, a resilience and transformation he hadn’t expected.

The remaining eight members of the ensemble portray various voices from workers to family and community members. Bernice Houseward gives a great portrayal of a history teacher who credits the auto industry with creating the middle class and transforming family life by giving people more independence and options.


Be sure and read the rest of the review, here on To get more information on RUST and to order your tickets online, go to the Actors’ Theatre website at

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RUST on WGVU Morning Show

Opening Tonight: RUST written by Austin Bunn, with Working Group Theatre. Last night’s enthusiastic final dress rehearsal crowd will tell you this is one Actors’ production not to be missed! Be sure and get your tickets right away – seats are going fast!  The Spectrum Theatre Box Office opens today at 1PM – (616) 234-2946

Want to learn more? Be sure and check out this interview with Shelly Irwin of The WGVU Morning Show.  (Click here to listen in on Shelley Irwin’s interview with cast members Austin Bunn and Bernice Houseward of RUST.)

Front page of the GR Press from Friday, December 20, 1935. The Wyoming plant would announce its closing in 2008.  Learn more about the lives of the West Michigan people that worked there, tonight in RUST at Actors’ Theatre.

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Actors’ Theatre in Revue Magazine

Reminder:  Tonight is Final Dress for RUST.  Tickets are just $5.  If you’re on a budget and want to see a great piece of theatre, you can’t miss this deal! Show starts at 8:00PM.

Want to know more about RUST?  Check out this great article in Revue:

Actors’ Theatre Debuts Rust
Written by Charlsie Dewey, Garrett Dennert

RustThis month, Actors’ Theatre will debut a brand new work, Rust, written by Playwright and Grand Valley State University Professor Austin Bunn.

Bunn said his play is a piece of documentary theatre in the style of The Laramie Project, and came out of several interviews he conducted with former workers following the closing of the General Motors Stamping Plant in Wyoming. Bunn said he was interested in answering the question, “What happens to the people that make things when we stop making things?”

“One of the general themes is the wages of loyalty,” Bunn said. “We talk about the wages of war, but the wages of loyalty is really strong here, because many of these people are second or third generation [workers] at GM. One fellow we interviewed, he’s the third generation to work in that very plant. His grandfather started working there when it opened.”

Bunn says the play also explores the movement from a culture that makes things and works with their hands to a culture removed from physical work.

“I think we are very disconnected from the idea of work in America,” Bunn said. “We have moved from a culture where we were really interested in how things got made to a culture where we are very interested in how things get bought.”


Check out the complete article on  RUST opens Thursday, Sept. 29th and runs 9/29 – Oct. 1 and Oct. 6 – 8.  All performances are at 8:00PM.  Get more information at

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RUST at Actors’ Theatre in The GR Press

Hot Off the Presses – Sue Merrell of The Grand Rapids Press interviews the playwright and director of RUST:

‘Rust’ at Actors’ Theatre focuses on Wyoming GM plant closing

Published: Sunday, September 25, 2011, 11:34 AM
By Sue Merrell | The Grand Rapids Press

Photo Credit: T.J. Hamilton | The Grand Rapids Press Cast in “Rust”: From left, Austin Bunn, Bernice Houseward, Wayne Swezey, Kieren Smith, Ella Swift, Jared Wekenman, Paul Arnold, Rena Dam and Chris Nye.

Austin Bunn didn’t know much about the auto industry, but as a magazine journalist in the New York City area, he had been part of a declining business. He knows how it feels when your training is outmoded, when they don’t need what you do anymore, and it’s time to train for another career.

That career change brought him to Grand Rapids in 2008 to teach creative writing at Grand Valley State University.

“I was struck by the number of empty buildings in Grand Rapids and thought it might be fun to do a piece of theater in a closed factory,” Bunn said. “I love the mixture of theater and journalism. Theater sometimes feels isolated from relevancy. I love it when creativity meets real life.”

In October, 2008, General Motors announced it was closing its stamping plant on 36th Street in Wyoming. The 75-year-old plant was to be torn down and 1,500 people would lose their jobs. Bunn decided to tell their story. “Rust,” a play based on his interviews with dozens of employees, opens Thursday at Actors’ Theatre.  (…)

Read the rest of the article, on  Rust opens this Thursday – go to the Actors’ Theatre website for more information and to order tickets.

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