Jun 11, 2019

Pics of CYRANO A-GO-GO at the 2019 Dallas Solo Fest

Here are a few photos of Cyrano A-Go-Go in its latest incarnation. The show played June 7-9 at the 2019 Dallas Solo Fest.




#   #   #

Perhaps you would be interested in adding more excitement and romance, adventure and intrigue to your life. If that's the case, I don't know what to tell you. But I would suggest you subscribe to my newsletter. I mean, who knows? Life is full of surprises. I only send stuff out occassionally, but it is good stuff. Hit the button below...


Leave a comment. If you are a robot or a blatant marketer trolling Blogger, then you will be deleted. Humans only, please.




Jun 10, 2019

Sharing Lessons I've Learned the Hard Way...


Marketing for Performers Workshop

June 23 @ 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm | $30
At Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre,
1350 Manufacturing St #109 Dallas, TX 75207
[Map]

The days of a performer showing up to simply act in a show and thinking his or her job is done is quickly becoming a fading memory. With the decline of traditional press outlets, the rise of digital media and the struggle for attention in a media-saturated landscape, performers are expected to pull their weight a lot more nowadays. The trouble is, a lot of performers either simply don’t know how to effectively get the word out about their projects (the word for this is marketing) or they prefer not to. If you are the latter, this workshop won’t help you. But if you wanna make yourself more appealing when it comes to casting (theaters now pay attention to this as a factor) and help both the folks you collaborate with as well as your own career, then this workshop is for YOU. Learn that marketing is not icing on the cake, but part of the cake itself... especially nowadays.

Learn that being a bit more entrepreneurial in spirit can only help you in this fun, concise workshop with performer/playwright/producer and improviser Brad McEntire and Dallas CultureMap’s Director of Promoted Content Lindsey Wilson.

More info and to sign up... click HERE



#   #   #

Perhaps you would be interested in adding more excitement and romance, adventure and intrigue to your life. If that's the case, I don't know what to tell you. But I would suggest you subscribe to my newsletter. I mean, who knows? Life is full of surprises. I only send stuff out occassionally, but it is good stuff. Hit the button below...


Leave a comment. If you are a robot or a blatant marketer trolling Blogger, then you will be deleted. Humans only, please.



Jun 8, 2019

Q-and-A on TheSoloPerformer

My friend and colleague Grant Knutson of Minion Productions conducted a pretty nice little interview with me over on TheSoloPerformer.com website. I'm reposting it here. Explains a lot about me and my solo shows...



Guest Contributor Grant Knutson of Minion Productions offers a brief Q-and-A with solo performer and producer Brad McEntire.

~ ~ ~

I'm excited that I get to introduce Brad McEntire: solo performer, festival producer and founder of this very website, TheSoloPerformer.com. He is the founding director of the Dallas Solo Fest and will be participating as a performer this year. 

I've been working on the Dallas Solo Fest since it began in 2014, but Brad and I first met nearly a decade ago when he was performing his show Chop at the (now sadly defunct) New Orleans Fringe Festival. 

Since then, he's been kind enough to bring his shows to several events I've produced on the West Coast. And I've been lucky enough to travel with him a few times as he performs at festivals around North America. 

Unlike some solo performers, Brad's various shows are widely different in style. In fact, he has this sort of restlessness that pervades both of his work and his personality. What ties his shows all together is that they present big ideas that make you think, but with an understated delivery that makes it feel as natural as a conversation. 

Let's dive right in...

Q: Please give us a little bit of background? How did you get involved in the theatre?

A: I was always interested in the arts. When I was a little kid, I liked to draw and I thought for a long time I’d be a graphic designer or fine artist when I grew up. I have also been a voracious life-long reader. I fell into theatre in high school because I had a crush on a girl in one of the theatre classes. In college, I got a theatre scholarship, so the plan was to study theatre, but major in art. I got totally hooked by that time and ended up getting my BFA in Theatre and Performance Arts (emphasis in Acting).

I went to a wonderful, sadly now-defunct university called the College of Santa Fe. It was such an isolated place, but I had fantastic teachers there. They really equipped me to tackle the theatre by the time I was done. While in college, I indulged in pursuing all kinds of things. I played the clarinet (badly), wrote horrible poetry, directed, edited and acted in little student movies – both on film and on video - and did everything there was to do in the theatre. I built sets, costumed, directed, acted, designed lights and swept the stage. It was like a little wonder world of chances to play both in and around the theatre.

 After college I spent time living, working and being poor in New York and London. I started the precursor to the theatre I now artistic direct. I ran a suburban public high school theatre department for a few years. I lived in Hong Kong for a year teaching high school kids ESL through drama games. I eventually got my Masters degree in theatre (with an emphasis on playwriting). I became an adjunct theatre teacher at community colleges. That’s my sort of “day job” nowadays.

Artistically, I rolled from one thing into another continually curious and continually working. I studied clowning – both American circus style and Eurporean - and was a birthday party clown for a short while. I got into sketch comedy, which lead to improvisation. I did children’s theatre for a while. I did murder mysteries on a river boat. I acted in a lot of things across the board, from very traditional theatre to crazy experimental stuff. I put in my 10,000 hours, so to speak.

I have built up a unique skill set. Now, I still act from time to time (mostly in my own stuff), direct on occasion and produce. My scope of experience allows me to understand and converse with a lot of different kinds of other artists. I consider myself that old term one doesn’t see much anymore, “a man of the theatre.”


Q: What event or desire brought you specifically into the world of solo performance?

A: At the tail end of my time in Hong Kong, I began tinkering on a one-person show that eventually became my first proper touring production, Chop. It is about isolation, culture shock and the romance of the unknown. I came back to the States and continued working on it with a great director friend of my, Andy Merkel. He helped me shape it into a real show. I started doing the fringe circuit for real back in 2010.

I was particularly drawn to the DIY and personal nature of solo performance. In an ensemble show, ideally (though I will admit this isn’t always the case), the emphasis is on trying to make as tight a final product as possible. The emphasis is on perfection. The cast, crew, designers and director are working to all get on the same page and make the show - the end result - as good as it can be. The goal is to bend the collaborations and interpretations into a coherent whole and to make it as impactful as the playwright or director means it to be.

Solo performance is not a format that lends itself to the strive towards perfection. The aim it to be as idiosyncratic and as novel as possible. I wrote an essay about this years ago. This little excerpt says it well.
The Collective works, ultimately, towards perfection. My idea of an Individual working in the Theatre is different. The goal is not perfection. The Individual Theatre-maker (such as a solo performer) is working ultimately for the most personal outcome. Originality trumps perfection.

Q: Could you tell us about some of your particular kind of solo work?

A: Sure. Like the rest of my works for the stage, my solo shows are a mix of weighty thematic explorations together with fluffy retro/pop-culture weirdness. It has been called “kitsch with significance.”

So, though the backbones of many pieces involve the search for identity, place, love, respect, revenge and other substantial age-old thematic universals, the plays are also filled with chupacabras, rocket packs, time travel, carnival barkers, dinosaurs, robots, unkillable goldfish and so on.

That play I mentioned above, Chop, is a darkly comic gothic love story about an extremely isolated and lonely man finding his place in the world. That place just happens to be at the center of an amputation fetish group.

Brad McEntire's show Chop
Q: Could you tell us about some about the show you are currently touring?

A: Sure. I am currently, for the summer, touring and performing my show Cyrano A-Go-Go. It is the closest thing I have to a TED-talk/Spalding Gray/ Mike Daisey style monologue show. What I mean by this is that I essentially play myself, talking to an audience that is playing an actual audience. Most of my other shows are structured more like narrative plays, with me playing fictional characters. This makes it my most personal work, too.

The show traces my development in the theatre and in life from the time I read my first play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. I also tie in a lot about the themes of that play, a behind-the-scenes look at its history and touch on the real-life historical figure of Cyrano de Bergerac.

My hope is that my show is jam-packed with just as much action, poetry and tragic romance as the swashbuckling play that serves as the subject of my exploration.


Q: What inspired Cyrano A-Go-Go?

A: I have been a sort of armchair scholar obsessed with Rostand’s play for years. It also struck me that a lot of how I perceive theatre comes from Cyrano, such was the impression it made. You know how your first encounter with something affects your views of that thing. Remember the first time you went a certain place for vacation, or the first book in a certain genre? The first song from a certain band?

I was also deeply influenced by TJ Dawe’s fringe show Totem Figures. He talks about the influences on him growing up and the things that would be in his “personal Mt. Rushmore.” I only ever heard a recording of it, but I totally deconstructed it to see how he had put it together and I tweaked that structure to put this show together. Before hearing Totem Figures, I was dead-set against doing a talky monologue show where I play myself onstage. Up until then, I usually found autobiographical shows kind of narratively weak and overly confessional. Hearing him set up thematic ideas and then compound on them was a light bulb moment for me. It was like hearing a theatrical essay. Though we have never met, I owe him a great debt for the inspiration.

Brad McEntire in Cyrano A-Go-Go

Q: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?

A: Solo performance actually brings me joy. I am not sure about other people, but I hear that advice to do what makes you happy and I always think, “Okay, great, but I don’t know what makes me happy.”

The list of activities and experiences that bring me actual, genuine joy is very, very short. Honestly, and I know this sounds horrible, but I really just tolerate most things. Many things in the world bother or upset me. At least of the things I can actively identify that make me happy (and that can be done publicly, in front of other people), creating and performing solo shows is near the top of the list..

I genuinely love crafting and then touring my one-person shows. I enjoy the travel and networking and sharing my work with far-flung audiences. I enjoy the intimate nature of it. You don’t need a huge audience for a one-person show (I’m not against that, by the way, but it is not a deal-breaker). You just need a cozy room full of folks who listen and who you can engage with.

The whole thing still has a veneer of romance to it and I am, sadly, seldom romantic about anything anymore. Age has given me a pervasive cynicism. And this romance appears despite how incredibly difficult the work itself is.

I sometimes say, when faced with a ridiculously absurd or challenging situation, "If it were easy, it wouldn't be any fun." For solo performance, the non-ease is actually one of the things I really like about. And it is never easy. At least, not for me.

The making of the work is always difficult and challenging and I always feel like I have to venture into the belly of the beast to craft something worthwhile and entertaining and original. And when I am waist-deep into creating a new piece, I sometimes want to give up, but then I remember that out of all the hardships of life, I chose this particular struggle. I chose to make this thing. Choosing to do something difficult is a special thing. The world hurls difficulty at us right and left and usually gives us very little choice in the matter, but getting to choose your struggle, that is sort of a sacred, wonderful thing.

And when I complete a show, at least enough to show to people, I feel an immense sense of achievement. I had to work for it. A lot of things these days offer only shallow instant gratification. Making a one-person show is not one of those things.


Q: Besides TJ Dawes, who are some of your influences on your work?

A: As far as solo performers go, I like the work of Bremner Duthie. I like the energy that Martin Dockery gives to his pieces. I like the archival recordings of Ruth Draper.

In the theatre, I am a die-hard Peter Brook fan. His books (particularly The Empty Space) have been hugely influential on me. I like the playwrights Samuel Beckett, George S. Kaufman, Sarah Ruhl and Mickle Maher. I like some of Dan Dietz’s plays and some of Sheila Callaghan’s work. I like Shakespeare, of course, and some Goldoni. I like some of Oscar Wilde. I like the work of my friend Lin-Manuel Miranda. And, of course, Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac.

I know this sounds like a horrible mish-mash, but I take inspiration from wherever I can get it. It all goes in the mix and adds to the fodder of my imagination.

Brad McEntire in his show Robert's Eternal Goldfish

Q: What prompted you to start this site, TheSoloPerformer.com?

A: As a solo performer, I was looking for resources online about solo performance back in 2010. Back then, there just wasn't much on the internet yet about solo performers, their processes, clips or shows and so on. There are a lot more resources now and a lot more performers have individual websites. 

Since I couldn't find as much as I wanted back in 2010, I just decided to start this little Blogger site and just started compiling stuff. It has become a place to put essays and opinions, opportunities and profiles. 

In 2013 I was interviewed by Adam Szymkowicz for his wonderful website I Interview Playwrights. He did the whole thing over email and the format he used became a sort of an inspiration. I began doing a silimiar thing with solo performers here on this site.

TheSoloPerformer has just been a side hobby, but nine years in, it has become a neat little compendium of information on the world of solo performance.

Q: How do you bridge the gap between the creative and the business side of solo theatre?

A: Not great yet, but I’m learning. It took me a long time to realize, like everything else, marketing and PR are things that could be learned. It would take time, but I was not powerless to acquire the skills and knowledge I needed to sell my shows. I have only really put a lot of focus on it since starting the Dallas Solo Fest back in 2014.

I have slowly embraced the administrative side of things as inevitable and that they should, in fact, be done as well as the artistic side of things. To do otherwise is a disservice to your show.

Live performance is a unique thing to market nowadays. It is location dependent and time-sensitive. A lot of what the internet has to offer, doesn't work for marketing theatre. But there's tools still to be found in social media, email, websites and the like.

It has been a slow trudge, but I am getting better at it a little at a time.


Q: This is a good time to talk about the Dallas Solo Fest. How’d that come about?

A: I envisioned an intimate, “boutique” fringe-like theatre festival in Dallas to showcase a curated collection of local and national solo artists presenting full festival-length pieces. My li’l theatre company was in an interesting place back in 2013-2014. We had a cheap, accessible space with about 80 seats and I saw that here was an opportunity to finally make the idea a reality.

A lot of getting things done in life, I believe, is recognizing opportunities when they arise. So, I put together the kind of festival that I’d want to go to. It has stayed small and personal on purpose. I’ve had a small, flexible, wonderful crew. The technician, Shea Smith is just a great, solid dude. And you [Grant] were instrumental in helping me get it off the ground, supporting the festival behind the scenes every year. Thank you for all your help. This year, my friend Erin Singleton is coming in to work box office.


Q: How has the Dallas Solo Fest been received?

A: Mostly positive. The artists who have participated have mostly had positive experiences. A lot of that has had to do with who has been selected for the festival. Most of the performers come in with warm, open and enthusiastic attitudes. And we have tried to make southern hospitality a real thing.

The audiences have been very enthusiastic and audience attendance has grown over the years, but only incrementally. We have had sell-out crowds and we have had audiences of as little as three people. It has been horribly uneven. I have yet to figure out the tipping point/ force multiplier to really launch audience attendance. It is the single most frustrating thing. At the rate DSF is currently growing, it would be years before it becomes the draw that I’d like it to be.

The growth of the DSF has paralleled the decline of print media and, really, just arts coverage in general. My media list is much shorter than it used to be. And though a few bloggers and amateur arts journalists have sprung up, they do not have the reach and readership to counterbalance the disappearance of arts coverage at mainstream newspapers and websites. And those mainstream papers and websites that are still around are now harder than ever to grab the attention of. On tp of this, they don't have the sway they use to possess. Potential audiences get their information from some many different places nowadays. So that, too, has been a challenge.

It could be that festivals have a shelf-life. Maybe the demand really is not what I think it is. That has to be take into consideration. The only way to know is to try as hard as possible to put on a great fest, then sell the festival to audiences. Then we'll see who and how many show up. It is a hard process, but I try to stay optimistic and I keep good books. I genuinely hope the DSF will be embraced in the cultural landscape.

On a personal note, I hugely enjoy getting to know both new artists and the audience members who attend the fest. If it starts to really take off, then I could see keeping it going, and continuing to refine it, for another five or even ten years.


Q: Since 2014, the Dallas Solo Fest has featured around 30 different individual solo shows, with eight more about to be presented this year. Of the shows you've seen to date, which DSF show has most surprised you or been different than you expected?

A: Ooooh, good question. I have seen all of them, sometimes more than once. I am going to leave off from this answer any shows that were surprising because they were less than expected (sadly, that has happened a few times). 

One of the shows that made me laugh the most was David Mogolov's Eating My Garbage. He has set me against eating Subway sandwiches since. 

One of the most heart-felt pieces in the DSF was Bremner Duthie's show '33: a Kabarett. I was overwhelmed at the depth of his show and the performer's talent as a singer.



Q: What do you see for the future of solo performance and for you personally as an artist?

A: I am not sure what the future of solo performance holds. Though it has been a thing for ages, I feel it is just in the last decade or so become a true legitimate format. Unfortunately, it is often still viewed as a narcissistic showcase thing. Or is mixed up with other one-person formats like stand-up comedy (this is not helped by stand-up's recent sneaky co-opting of solo performance, such as Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette).

Since the financial crisis of 2008-2009, theatres around the United States seemed more and more were willing to give solo performance a chance since the production costs are comparatively low for one-person productions. Arts Centers around the country continue to “round out” their subscriber packages by programming solo performers… if those performers have a bit of a name.

I used to consider solo performance as nothing better than a stepping stone to another career. Famed soloists of the past like Lily Tomlin, John Leguizamo, Whoopi Goldberg, Eric Bogosian, Anna Deveare Smith and even Spalding Gray leveraged their solo performance fame into film and TV roles. And then kinda stopped there.

One of the most successful solo performers in a long-term sense has been Hal Holbrook with his ever-adaptable show Mark Twain Tonight! He has been performing that show for half a century. It is an institution by this point. But again, Holbrook is a film and television actor mostly. The draw to his solo show is his marginal fame as a commercial actor. And he has traded variety (by having just the one solo show) for depth. It is a good trade-off, in my opinion, but a trade-off nonetheless.

Mike Daisey continues to experiment with the form, mostly testing the limits of time duration in his storytelling, but I am not sure what his end goal is.

Beyond its use as a stepping stone to other industries, I am not really sure what the mountaintop looks like in solo performance. I mean, there is a support structure for sustaining it with fringes fests and independent venues scattered around, like a less formal and more contemporary Chautauqua circuit or vaudeville circuit. But what is the highest achievement to be had? In the past Ruth Draper gave a command performance for King George V at Windsor Castle. That was cultural power.

I do hope solo performance catches on enough in mainstream theatre - or hell, just with the mainstream in general – to maybe fill large theatres or even stadiums and get Netflix specials someday. I think that would be great, but to be honest, even if stuff does go that way, it will be a long way off.

For me, I am not sure what my own end-goal is, either. I will continue doing what I’m doing as long as I feel it has significance and I am enjoying it. I have, at least, a few more solo shows in me waiting to be created, toured and performed for audiences all over the place.


Q: Shout outs or links?

Sure thing…
Come see my show Cyrano A-Go-Go at the Dallas Solo Fest (or later this summer at the Elgin Fringe).

Or, see my newest show The Beast of Hyperborea at the Festival of Independent Theatres in Dallas in July 2019.

My main home online is at:

Here’s these, too:

May 1, 2019

Cyrano A-Go-Go at the 2019 Dallas Solo Fest


My one-man show Cyrano A-Go-Go will play at the 2019 Dallas Solo Fest in June. I have been producing this festival since 2014, so it is with great excitement that I can announce I am, at long last, actually performing in it. Here are the details...

CYRANO A-GO-GO is semi-autobiographical exploration of one restless theatre artist's fascination with the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. A chance encounter with the script at a suburban public library at the age of fifteen leads McEntire into a wonderful, and sometimes elusive, calling. Mixing the personal, historical and literary into a journey through Rostand's play McEntire puts a funny, warm, insightful spin on the usual coming-of-age one-man show.

Playing...
Friday, June 7 @ 7:00 pm
Saturday, June 8 @ 5:30 pm
Sunday, June 9 @ 7:00 pm


All shows at Theatre Too! downstairs at Theatre Three, 
in the Quadrangle, Uptown neighborhood
2800 Routh Street, #168, Dallas, Texas 75201.
[Map Here]

Individual ticket prices for each show are $15. Festival Passes include one admission to each festival show and are $65. Reservations can be made online... HERE





#   #   #

Perhaps you would be interested in adding more excitement and romance, adventure and intrigue to your life. If that's the case, I don't know what to tell you. But I would suggest you subscribe to my newsletter. I mean, who knows? Life is full of surprises. I only send stuff out occassionally, but it is good stuff. Hit the button below...


Leave a comment. If you are a robot or a blatant marketer trolling Blogger, then you will be deleted. Humans only, please.

Mar 21, 2019

Solo Performance Lessons from Ruth Draper | Histrionic Kablooie



As a contemporary solo performer I have a great deal of appreciation for Ruth Draper, iconic solo theatre performer of the first half of the 1900s. She was often billed as "Ruth Draper and Her Company of Characters." For thirty-seven years she performed alone, on an empty stage, with a hat or shawl, and perhaps a table or chair. The nearly sixty character sketches she carried around in her memory through all those years, which she performed in repertory, were solely of her own imagining and ranged from satirical comedy, to sentimental melodrama to heart-rending tragedy. She spoke multiple languages (and performed in multiple languages) and traveled the globe, presenting her monologues on every inhabited continent. She was organized and frugal, but tasteful and sophisticated. She traveled alone and kept her own reciepts and negotiated her own contracts. Her influence and fandom has been monumental: Mike Nichols, Lily Tomplin, Katharine Hepburn, John Gielgud, Uta Hagen, George Bernard Shaw, Noel Coward, Arturo Toscanini, John Lithgow, Simon Callow and on and on... Histrionic Kablooie is a YouTube series where I talk about different aspects of theatre and performance.


#   #   #

Perhaps you would be interested in adding more excitement and romance, adventure and intrigue to your life. If that's the case, I don't know what to tell you. But I would suggest you subscribe to my newsletter. I mean, who knows? Life is full of surprises. I only send stuff out occassionally, but it is good stuff. Hit the button below...


Leave a comment. If you are a robot or a blatant marketer trolling Blogger, then you will be deleted. Humans only, please.


Feb 13, 2019

Acadiana Repertory Theatre presents Que Será, Giant Monster

A new work of mine is recieving a developmental production in Lafayette, Lousiana. It opens this weekend and I recieved a few great pics. I made it down during tech week and seems like a good group of folks.





Steven R. Landry and Erica Jure, Michelle Colon
Here's the rundown...

Acadiana Repertory Theatre presents the first production of their 2019 season, the developmental production of Que Será, Giant Monster by Brad McEntire

Charles is having a very rough day. It only gets worse when he runs into an ex who is, herself, having a ridiculously rough day. The giant monster destroying the city doesn't bode well, either.

This fast paced and smart comedy is directed by Debbi Ardoin and features company members Steven R. Landry (as Charles) and Erica Jure (as Katherine) along with Michelle Colon (as the Uber Driver).
Que Será, Giant Monster will take place at Cite Des Arts (109 Vine St.) Performances are February 15th, 16th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd at 7:30pm with a 2pm matinee on February 17th. Tickets are $15.

Tickets can be purchased by calling 337-291-1122 or by visiting acadianarep.org or citedesarts.org Tickets may also be purchased at the box office, starting an hour before the performance.