Feb 7, 2016

Pics from #Tarantubears

Dani Martin as Crossbow Joan
Miller Pyke as Samantha and Whitney Holotik as Dr. Betruger
Kasey Tackett as Anderson and Miller Pyke as Samantha

Brian Witkowicz as Colin

Jan 25, 2016

TARANTUBEARS in TheaterJones

It's Got Legs! 
At the Margo Jones Theatre, Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez's Night of the Tarantubears has more depth than you might expect. 

by David Novinski | TheaterJones.com | Monday, January 25, 2016

Dani Martin as Crossbow Joan in NIGHT OF THE TARANTUBEARS

Dallas — With a title like Night of the Tarantubears, audiences might be tempted to think this is a lesser offering in the artistic panoply of Metroplex theater, but the schlocky spoof title is part of the devious smokescreen devised by cowriters Jeff Hernandez and Brad McEntire (who also directed it). While the masses think they’re just indulging in jump scares and apocalyptic fantasy, they’re really being exposed to high quality theater.

Well, played Audacity Theatre Lab. Well, played.

The scheme starts with preshow music of matinee sci-fi flicks interrupted by radio talk show callers describing troubles with the half-bear/half-tarantulas that started out as a fad pet. The Margo Jones Theatre plays itself with furniture and rehearsal blocks thrown about in ad hoc barricades. Part of the fun of imagining the end of the world is envisioning everything you know torn apart, after all. Director/designer McEntire doesn’t disappoint, even employing the doors and lobby for some of the action. This performance happened at sundown, which conveniently coincided with the plot. As gimmicky as the site-specific references to Fair Park may sound, there were genuine shivers as the last light of the day left the lobby.

Kasey Tackett plays the ubiquitous narrator/survivor. As Anderson, he rattles off what seems like inconsequential commentary on our society’s preoccupation with cat videos. The ingenious link is that the unthinking fascination with those videos is the same reason the bearantulas, er, tarantubears took off. In this way, the writers follow a long tradition of sci-fi/horror authors taking society’s ills to an extreme. The old trope of an old man staring into a hobo fire saying, “Nobody knows how it started” is here replaced by a young guy shaking his head in wonder at the viral growth of a fad.

Before things get that cerebral, though, the character Crossbow Joan bolts into Anderson’s hideout at the theatre. Dani Martin plays her with surprising honesty, which sets the stage literally for the scenes to come. The second couple to find refuge in the Margo Jones coincidentally is Collin (Brian Witkowicz) and Samantha (Miller Pyke). She has recently broken up with him and even more coincidentally has gone on a date with Anderson. To round out the fun, far-fetched nature of this whole endeavor, Whitney Holotik plays a thick accented Government biologist, Dr. BetrĂ¼ger. There are lots of flashbacks and narration, but all in all the storytelling tightly mounts the tension, even employing giant spider legs at times.

Despite the perfectly hokey effects (provided by Ruth Engel-McEntire), this cast plays the show with high stakes. Better effects would actually work against the magic of the evening. The unabashed theatrical tricks leave the audience more susceptible to the intensity of the acting. Which is made possible by the efficacy of the scenarios dreamt up by the writers and the capable cast’s dedication. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tackett and Pyke’s chemistry was well established in their self-produced, self-written one-acts last year. And then, of course, Witkowicz has his loser-trying-to-rise-above-his-limits type of character well honed. And, Holotik, who doubles as the girlfriend to Crossbow Joan, has proven adept at creating chemistry on area stages. Taken all together it should come as no surprise how easily this evening appears.

With a few tweaks this fun script could make regional rounds, but the real success would depend on the people involved. That is unless, of course, the creators could bottle the essence of the cast. It’s not as strange as it sounds.

They are Audacity Theatre…LAB!

Cue lightning.

Cue thunder.

Original post... HERE

Jan 24, 2016

Audacity Theatre Lab in DallasNews.com

A magnificent seven: a look at small theaters with big ideas

Nancy Churnin | DallasNews.com | January 24, 2016

Kasey Tackett and Miller Pyke in NIGHT OF THE TARANTUBEARS
Small theater companies can have big ideas.
While some have theater homes and annual seasons, others pop up with individual shows in unexpected places, making it a challenge to keep up with their work. Ochre House Theater, MBS Productions and Rover Dramawerks have long histories of producing original work. Theatre Rapscallions and Proper Hijinx are new and led by ambitious young talent.
Some, like Noelle Chesney, founder and artistic director of the new Brick Road Theatre, aspire to move from non-Equity to professional musical theater productions. Others, like Brad McEntire, founder and artistic director of the established Audacity Theatre Lab, take pride in keeping a company small.
“I am an advocate for small, indie theater,” McEntire says. “I believe it can be done with high quality and at low cost. It is not necessarily a stepping stone to bigger endeavors. The goal actually is the small, flexible and independent.”
Still, being small can make it a challenge to get the word out. The lean annual operating budget of $15,000 for Brick Road Theatre, compared with the $12 million budget for 2016 at the Dallas Theater Center, doesn’t leave room to hire staff. That’s why you’re likely to be exchanging emails with founders when they have time between their day jobs. In the case of Shakespeare in a Bar, founded by Dylan Key, Katherine Bourne and Alia Tavakolian in 2014 to present barely rehearsed productions of Shakespeare in local bars and breweries, you’re asked to follow updates about new shows on its Facebook page.
These companies can’t count on anything, least of all the support of a subscription audience, yet they keep producing because they’re passionate about what they do. Here’s a look at some of those players and their current plans.
Audacity Theatre Lab. Founded as Audacity Productions in 1999, it dissolved in 2006 and re-formed as Audacity Theatre Lab in 2008. The company presents the world premiere of Night of the Tarantubears, a horror-comedy about genetic mutations written by Audacity founder Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez, at the Margo Jones Theatre at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park. Audacity is usually at the Margo Jones, but it also pops up at Bath House Cultural Center, WaterTower Theatre, Teatro Dallas, the Ochre House, Starbucks and in apartment building lobbies.
Original post... HERE

Jan 8, 2016

The Tarantubears are coming...

A New Horror-Comedy by
Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez
Directed by Brad McEntire 

A genetic experiment surfaces as a seemingly harmless viral internet sensation. Part bear, part spider hybrids are the latest trend. But what happens when our passing fascinations grow and things begin to go horribly horribly wrong. Five survivors hole up in an abandoned theatre, while the city is over-run by genetic monstrosities. Who will survive the night? 

Featuring Miller Pyke, Dani Martin, Whitney Holotik, Brian Witkowicz and Kasey Tackett 

Playing January 21-31, 2016 
 at the Margo Jones Theatre in historic Fair Park 1121 First Ave., Dallas, TX 75210

Online tickets... HERE 
For more information visit... HERE

Jan 3, 2016

New Year’s is like a witches’ sabbath for us list makers. New Year’s is both absolution and excuse to dream. On New Year’s Day, we throw out our past failures like shards of broken champagne bottles. We wipe off our old faces like tired lipstick. 
New Year’s Day has the purity of hotel sheets. Its a fresh page in a notebook, waiting to be besmirched by plans. 

Dec 28, 2015

Looking Back at 2015

Usually, by the end of the year I just don’t remember a lot of what happened.  Too much work, adventure and travel makes time go really fast.  The blog posts I put on this site serve as little reminders that things happened, theatre was created, bourbon consumed, adventures were had. For the last few years I've been using this site as a portfolio of sorts and doing a little summation of the year that ends (here's 2012,2013 and 2014). So, here’s some stuff I did in 2015...
CHOP at the Margo Jones Theatre
In late January into early February I mounted my solo show CHOP for a proper two-weekend run. It was well-recieved, though attendance wa spotty. I was glad to give it a solid two-week run here in Dallas. It felt like a neat bookend to premiering it in 2010 in the area and then taking it all over the country the last five years.

I also launched a new podcast project with my friend Jeff Hernandez. It is called The Rumbleshanks Tapes. It is the "lost" archives of conversations between a cyborg mad genius named Captain Ulysseus Rumbleshanks and his dogged interrogator Agent Hanson. Hernandez and I made 4 episodes over the year and hope to make a few more.

In February I redesigned TheSoloPerformer.com website I moderate. I also "re-launched" my YouTube channel. There's anow a focus on theatre topics (history, thoughts, theories, etc.) and little behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries about my traveling solo shows.

I also launched a new section of this website called The Book Shelf where I have begun to compile a list of the all-time most beneficial books that have helped me as a person and as an artist. I am slowly rolling out "book reports" on some of the most influential.

CYRANO A-GO-GO at the Out of the Loop
In March I remounted a reworked version of CYRANO A-GO-GO at the Addison Water Tower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. It was a bit rough, but I did win a Best of Fest Award for it (this was the second year in a row I won that award!).

At the end of March I also performed a five-show engagement at Tarrant County College, where I am an adjunct. This was more of a for-the-students run, though the public was welcomed. I had a crew of student stage hands helping. I love performing the show and I might do it again in the future, but I am moving on to other projects. I am putting CHOP on the back-burner for a while.

In June the 2nd Annual Dallas Solo Fest played at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. It was pretty successful. I produced it and Ruth helped out with hospitality and ran the box office. It was more difficult to get press coverage than the first year. I guess the first year had novelty. The second year is a bit of “Oh, that again…” Dallas likes new stuff.

In July we started an intense period of travel. First to Orlando, where my folks got the family together in the Walt Disney World resort. We were there to celebrate my niece, Kylie’s birthday. She turned ten. It was really fun and we spent several days visiting theme parks, eating really well, and riding rides.

Right after we returned from Florida, Ruth and I car tripped out to California, where we hung out with her sister Christine and her family. They live about an hour east of Los Angeles in a place called Yucaipa. Besides seeing a lot of Ruth’s extended family, we spent a few days in Anaheim for a big YouTube conference called VidCon (creating YouTube videos is one of my growing interests). My friend Jeff Hernandez drove out to attend as well. It was fun and informative, though we noticed that outside of the organizers we were some of the oldest people there. And of course, we went to Disneyland while we were out there. Two Disneys in one summer…

Back to Texas for a few days, then I headed off to Seattle. My friend Grant and I were meeting there before driving up to Naniamo (north of Victoria) in Canada. I was in a fringe theatre festival up there, performing my solo show CYRANO A-GO-GO. Ruth stayed home and started setting up the new rental house.

From Canada, Grant and I drove back to Seattle, then on to Fresno, California. In Fresno, I performed at a sort of mini-fringe event, again with my CYRANO show. It was an epic three week-long adventure that is too jam-packed to go into here in this letter, but I did make some new friends/colleagues, performed to several standing ovations and had a blast. I missed Ruth. The adventures are not quite the same without her.

At the beginning of November, Ruth and I set off for Scranton, Pennsylvania. I performed my solo show ROBERT’S ETERNAL GOLDFISH at the first ever Scranton Fringe. It was a good trip, though the festival was brand new and had a ways to go with audience attendance. On the plus side, the festival organizers put Ruth and I up in a neat hotel in the center of Scranton. It was a hotel that had been converted from an old railway station.

In late October my play DINOSAUR AND ROBOT STOP A TRAIN saw the light of day again. It was a co-production between my group Audacity and a tiny theatre outfit up in Denton, Texas called Sundown. DINOSAUR AND ROBOT STOP ATRAIN played in Denton and in Dallas over four weekends. The actors worked really hard. Unfortunately, there was spotty attendance in both cities.

In December, I started rehearsals on NIGHT OF THE TARNATUBEARS a horror-comedy I co-wrote with my friend Hernandez. I’m directing and producing with my own outfit, Audacity, it should be awesome. Opens in late January.

I had one or two other small triumphs at the end of the year. I published my first ebook on Amazon Kindle… my one-act solo show I BROUGHT HOME A CHUPACABRA. The feedback on it was overwhelmingly positive. I will try to publish more works in 2016. My little playlet THE YETI IN THE AIRPORT LOUNGE was included in a collection of holiday themed one-acts put on by Nouveau 47 Theatre in December. It got good reviews.

The above does not include the comics I drew over on DribbleFunkComics.com, handful of illustrations I created, the interviews and articles I did over on TheSoloPerformer.com, miscellaneous workshops I taught and the half dozen or so podcasts I co-hosted for Sensational Adventure Club's Bike Soccer Jamboree.

All in all, 2015 was a productive and far-flung year.