Jaston Williams is an American humorist, playwright, actor, director, producer, essayist and novelist. He is best known as the co-author and co-actor of the Greater Tuna quartet of plays. Greater Tuna is the first in a series of four comedic plays (followed by A Tuna Christmas, Red, White and Tuna, and Tuna Does Vegas), are each set in the fictional town of Tuna, Texas, the "third-smallest" town in the state.
In 1971, Williams left Texas Tech University and moved to San Antonio to begin his acting career, where he joined the "First Repertory Company in San Antonio." He gained footing in the industry with the Taos Magic Mirror Players and TransAct Theatre of Austin. Along the way, he collected material for volumes of plays, essays and other writings. One of his popular true-to-life stories featured in his one-man show, I'm Not Lying, is a counterculture experience involving Williams wearing a chicken suit and performing at a Renaissance Fair at Dennis Hopper's mansion in Taos.
Williams' performances have played on and off Broadway at the Kennedy Center, the Edinburgh International Arts Festival, the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. and all over America. Jaston received the L.A. Dramalogue Award for both Greater Tuna and A Tuna Christmas. A Tuna Christmas was published in "Best Plays of 1995." For several years, he toured in Larry Shue's The Foreigner. He performed in The Fantasticks and directed the musical, Bad Girls Upset by The Truth. Jaston received the Texas Governor's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by a Native Texan, and has performed command performances at the White House on three occasions. He has appeared at the State Theatre in Eugene Ionesco's The Chairs and at Zachary Scott Theatre in Jay Preston Allen's Tru, for which he received the Austin Critics Table Award for Best Actor in a drama. He appeared at Zachary Scott Theatre in The Laramie Project.
Awards and nominations
In 2018, Williams received the national Marquee Award, a lifetime achievement award, from the League of Historic American Theatres.
Williams has received five nominations for the Helen Hayes Award in Washington, D. C., the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award for acting and writing, the San Francisco Bay Critics Award for acting and writing, He has also received the Distinguished Alumni Award at Texas Tech University (2015), the Texas Governor's Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts, and, along with Joe Sears, the first Paramount Theatre Marquee Walk of Fame Award. Jaston is the recipient of the 2013 Texas Medal of the Arts and has been inducted into the Buddy Holly Walk of Fame in Lubbock.
Jaston is the son of a West Texas farmer and a school teacher, (James P. Williams and Vivian Lindley), He was born in El Paso, Texas, and spent his first six years on a farm between Valentine and Van Horn, Texas. His family moved to Olton, Texas, and then to Crosbyton, where he graduated from Crosbyton High School. He attended San Jacinto College, Texas State University and Texas Tech University. Williams was married to his high school girlfriend, Larita Stephens from 1971 to1973, and they had one son, Patrick Shane Williams (b.May 9, 1971). Patrick died in an automobile accident on December 27, 1995. Jaston's older brother, Corky Williams, was a cowboy poet, actor and writer.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Williams reminisces about his late mother, "one of the toughest, funniest and occasionally meanest people I've ever known"; his brother, who "talks like Yosemite Sam"; his mother's best girlfriend, a pilot with emphysema who had to stop smoking for months every time she wanted to fly (something about the oxygen); and that lady's son, a hairdresser who worked in the big city but regularly came back home and fixed all the women up with identical helmet hair ("you need it, what with that wind!").
In 2007, Williams married Dr. Kevin Mooney, a musicologist who teaches at Texas State University, and they have one son, Song Williams. “Here was a jazz musician who had never smoked weed, never been arrested,” Williams says of his husband, Kevin. “And I had never had a boyfriend who hadn’t been on the Post Office wall.” But it worked out, and the two eventually adopted a 7-year-old Chinese boy with special needs. Song, 21, graduated from Lockhart (Texas) High School in 2019, lives with his fathers, and is the light of their lives. Williams says that they got the best child in China, out of millions.