Jul 30, 2012

"It’s not where you take things from, but where you take them to.
 – Jean-Luc Godard

Oh, Man! Words to live by...

Studio Tours


I'm always captivated by the spaces where artists make their art. I believe environment - especially our immediate environments (where we spend most of our time) - go a long way to shaping how we interact in and with the world. And, in a way, what and how we produce art for the world.

The Art & Seek Blog here in Dallas has a neat series called Studio Tours. It is kind of a virtual studio crawl and has a gaggle of interesting pieces on local artists (I love how Frank Campagna makes wood block-style prints using styrofoam panels).

Check it out HERE.

UPDATE: I submitted my own entry and it is now on there. The artists are in alphabetical order, so go down to the M's. I'll also post it below...

***************
 

Brad McEntire

Media: playwright, webcomics, pen and ink drawing

Number of years in this space: 1

What do you enjoy most about working here? I do almost all of my work at a simple desk. It is actually a rather small desk, with little surface area. This is on purpose. Since most of my work involves writing and drawing, I don’t need too much physical space. I fold my laptop down and pull out a sketch pad to draw. It cuts down on the clutter big time. I’m actually kind of proud of the amount I can turn out at this simple workstation.

What would you improve if you could? I would love to have a much better computer, decked out with Adobe Creative Suite and other fancy programs. I’d also like a few fancy pens, which are kind of costly. Other than that, I really dig having *just* enough space.


Jul 29, 2012

Performing CHOP at Nouveau 47


Last night I ended my three show run of CHOP at Nouveau 47 Theatre in Dallas' historic Fair Park. The audiences ranged from medium to small, but I got some really positive feedback. I had several memorable moments performing the piece here in Dallas...

• The cupcakes I used were too big, too messy and they literally exploded when I smashed them in the show. The icing dyed my hands for the remainder of the performance. And that moment happens relatively early in the piece. Will definitely NOT be taking these particular cupcakes to NYC.

• I blanked out during the second show. I mean a literal "actor's nightmare" moment where I did not know where I was or what I was supposed to say next. It only lasted maybe three seconds and I jumped right back in, but it scared me. In the maybe 40 times I've performed the piece so far, that has never happened to me. It was a great reminder to NEVER ever get comfortable with the piece. Solo performance demands respect from the performer. Gotta always bring my A-game, every single time. CHOP definitely keeps me on my toes.

• The piece is good. I observed it over and over again: the audience sits blank faced through the first minute or two and then, one by one they key in. And then they stay keyed in. I had a couple of audience members cry and another I watched as his facial expressions changed throughout the show, silently mouthing little responses to my story, like "No..." and ""What?" That's the kind of engagement I work to create. The audience comes on the journey with me. It was nice to see this, especially before I take the show to two major festivals. It still has power. It is still a worthwhile piece. I sometimes forget this, as I am in the eye of the storm, setting up the logistics of the productions and then swooping in to perform it.

• I really appreciated showing it in Dallas. Many people I hoped would come see it didn't, but some did and I'm extremely grateful for it. I have lived with CHOP for the past 5 years (if you include the writing and development of it, as well as the multiple performances around the country) and in that time,I have shown it only four times in the Dallas area before this past weekend. It premiered for three shows at Addison's Water Tower Theatre as part of the Out of the Loop Festival in a very early form (which, ironically, is the run that was most reviewed). My folks came to that. And some of my best friends. But it has come such a long ways since then. It's like a different show. The only other time I did it in Dallas was a one-night deal at an art gallery in the lobby of some loft apartments. It was very echoy there and I only had five people in the audience. And that was way back in 2010. This show is my unrestrained, idiosyncratic idea of how I approach theatre... from the content to the style of performance to the design and even running time. It makes the piece very personal. I am very proud to have my name on it, as imperfectly perfect as it is. And I'm proud to show it to people. Especially the hometown crowd. And as an added bonus, I can say I performed the piece at the historic Magnolia Lounge, the place where the Regional Theatre Movement was born in 1947, willed into existence by the tenacious Margo Jones.

Special thanks to my beautiful wife Ruth for running the tech for me and to the folks at Nouveau 47 Theatre for having me over to play.


Simmering... Three Voices of a Creator

Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco on 99u.com
I'm working on this play for the Sundown Collaborative, a small theatre half an hour north of Dallas in Denton, Texas. It is coming along. I have a handful of written scenes (which will surely be thrown out or mostly rewritten), pages of notes and most of all, a place in my brain where it sits and simmers ALL THE TIME.

Over time, I've learned to let things simmer. It is still a form of "working" and without it, my imaginative world shrinks to accommodate "practical" concerns. A better way to say it would be that if I don't let something kinda organically grown and evolve out of my brain, I tend to leap straight to editing and judging it. This makes it smaller, as an idea, and ultimately less interesting.

As it is that the world throws back in your face those things one struggles with at a given time, I came across this article by Tara Mohr about "the three voices within every creator..."

> the Inner Artist (sensitive and flexible; handles the coming up with stuff)
> the Inner Editor (trims and revises; shapes raw ideas into workable structures)
> the Inner Agent (handles marketing, distribution; figures out how to "sell" the ideas)

Ms. Mohr points out that, as creators, we get in trouble most of the time when we bring the wrong voice to the table on a given task. Bring the Editor in too early and originality is squelched. Bring the Artist to a business meeting and fail to hold on to opportunities.

As I work through the Sundown play, I'm content right now to let things simmer. The Artist is working. Simmering is a kind of work.


Jul 26, 2012

CHOP this weekend at N47


Just a reminder... I'm performing my one-man show CHOP this coming weekend at Nouveau 47 Theatre.

Here's the basics:

Friday, July 27, 2012 at 8 PM​
Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 8 and 10:30 PM
At the Nouveau 47 Theatre, 
Magnolia Lounge (Margo Jones Building), Fair Park, 
121 First Avenue, 
Dallas, TX 75210.
Tix: $10 suggested donation.
More info HERE

Also, there's a Facebook page for the event. Check it out HERE.

Revising Hawk Season!

"Who now curates what culture is worth keeping, where does it live, and how do we find it amongst the spume of half-realised ideas and half-baked opinions? This process has traditionally been facilitated by editors and mentors, who can help a new generation polish their ideas until they produce something extraordinary. But in the age of self-publishing, that expertise and experience is often bypassed.
~ Molly Flatt
I have been re-working a bunch of comics from 2010 lately. To be specific, I have been cleaning up and putting uniform measurements to the comics that appear in my first collection of Donnie Rocket Toaster-Face comics, I Hate Hawk Season! 

The book came out a few months back, and as it is a POD endeavor, for some reason the finished version has blank pages (pages 37 and 40 to be exact). The preview copy has comics on those pages, but the final published version does not. I haven't pin-pointed the problem with these pages yet. It has something to do with being the middle pages in the book and the print-on-demand process CreateSpace uses. 

My plan is to release a 2nd edition of the book. An updated, better version. The process is giving me a chance to go back and re-edit and revise. And figure out what the deal is with the blank pages.

The fact I am doing this by myself, for myself, does not escape me as a very contemporary way of creating art products.

I came across an article called "The Cult of Creativity" by Molly Flatt. The process I am engaged in - revising my own work because I'm working without an editor or publisher - is touched on in the article. Flatt quotes James C. Kaufman, Professor of Psychology at California State University and co-author of The Creativity Conundrum...
  
"If you were a writer twenty years ago and you wanted to have your poem read by hundreds of people it would mean publishing it, which is hard,” Kaufman explains. “You’d get these gatekeepers who make sure that poem or that scientific paper is at a certain level before it’s published. But now we can circumnavigate the gatekeepers and publish as an ebook on Amazon or make a movie on your iPhone. On the one hand great, I’m not an elitist and I love this idea of democratic production; conversely gatekeepers do have a role. It forces the creator to revise, keep thinking, keep building on it without sending it off into the world prematurely. And it allows the consumer to have a certain level of trust.


Jul 25, 2012

BSJ episode 7



Episode 7 of Bike Soccer Jamboree. In which, I talk about my experience with Kickstarter and complain about the flu.

Check it out HERE. Feel free to download for later listening.


Freaks, Familiars and Cheats

"A parody is an inside joke between strangers with whom we suddenly feel kinship.
I'm still processing the many levels of useful coolness in this Fast Company article by Jonah Sachs, from his book Winning the Story Wars: Why Those Who Tell--and Live--the Best Stories Will Rule the Future.



Jul 23, 2012

"My frustration came from a misunderstanding I think many of us have about creative work: we forget that doing the work makes us better, and being better makes us dislike the work that made us that way.

Frank Chimero talks about the process of writing his excellent book The Shape of Design  (which I am currently reading and finding all kinds of shades of awesome). Check it out HERE.



Joy of Books


This video is on the main page of Toronto’s Type Books website. It made me want to snag one of these little suckers off the shelf and immediately dive into a reading adventure.


Jul 20, 2012

CHOP in FrontRow


CHOP playing at Nouveau 47 and going to FringeNYC mentioned in D Magazine's FrontRow Blog...
"McEntire, the artistic director of Audacity Theatre Lab, is no stranger to the New York Fringe. He has brought three productions there in the past. Before CHOP makes its NY bow, McEntire will freshen up with a couple of performances at Nouveau 47 later this month. 
 See the post HERE.

CHOP in Theater Jones


Nice write-up in TheaterJones.com about CHOP heading to FringeNYC.
"Dallas-based playwright/performer Brad McEntire has been to the New York International Fringe Festival several times, and he's returning this year with his solo show CHOP, which debuted at WaterTower Theatre's Out of the Loop Festival in 2010. 

Before he takes it to NY, you can see it at Nouveau 47 Theatre, July 27-28, presented by McEntire's outfit Audacity Theatre Lab.

Thanks to Mark Lowry for the coverage. Read the rest of the article HERE.


Jul 19, 2012

Your Environment is KEY!

I make my own Field Notes-style notebooks and keep 'em in a cigar box
I have this pet theory that is at odds with how my wife thinks. She believes we are how we are regardless of the environment around us. I believe my environment is a key component in how I feel, how much I do, how I live. 

My immediate surroundings undergo a constant transformation. I'm always tweaking this or that to find the best surroundings for me. It is the same theory that if you don't wanna get fat eating Oreos, don't even bring Oreoes in the house.

I have carried this attempt to tailor my environment - which, let us admit, involves certain control issues - to many, many aspects of my life... from this blog, to my clothing (I only wear three colors and I order custom dress shirts and design my own tees), to the little notebooks I make myself, to the aesthetics of my improv performances and content of plays. I am literally trying to design the immediate world around me.

I was wonderfully surprised to stumble across this article by Jonah Lehrer in the Wall Street Journal the other day.

"Recently, scientists have begun to focus on how architecture and design can influence our moods, thoughts and health. They've discovered that everything—from the quality of a view to the height of a ceiling, from the wall color to the furniture—shapes how we think.

I realize, in order to interact in the world, a person can't control every environment they find themselves in ( Oh man, I wish I could design any waiting room I find myself in), but an awareness of what gives you good vibes is a good thing. Notice we go back to the same spaces again and again, sometimes. A particular booth at a restaurant or a movie theater or something...

Jul 15, 2012

Thanks to A.C.T. for CHOP Benefit

I performed an excerpt of CHOP
Rigamarole performs at Cafe Bohemia
My extreme thanks to the Alternative Comedy Theater and Cafe Bohemia for hosting a benefit for CHOP last night. And thanks to the group Rigamarole, the host Liz Robinson and all the improvisers who participated in the Mini-Monologue Jam. Together we raised $154 that will go towards sending CHOP to FringeNYC and the Seattle Fringe this summer.

Jul 14, 2012

Drawing with Kylie


[click on images above to see them bigger]

One of the things I enjoy when spending time with my niece Kylie is drawing together. The details change from time to time, but usually we end up doing one of two things...

We take turns drawing what the other suggests. Kylie says draw a cat and I draw a cat. Then I hand the pad to her and I say draw a truck and she draws a cat.

The other thing we do is draw maps together. We draw together and come up with what we meet along the route and where the map goes. Often, we then follow the map around the house, acting out not stepping in lava by hopping from couch cushion to couch cushion. Or we must "swim" from counter top to chair and so on.

Here's the deal. Drawing is our thing. She doesn't draw with anyone else. Others have to make up dances and read out loud and make cookies from mix. But we draw. That's how we play. And I like it.

Jul 13, 2012

CHOP on nytheatre.com


I have a nice Q-and-A on nytheatre.com about CHOP. Check it out HERE!

Also cross-posted on the Audacity Theatre Lab Blog HERE

 

CHOP at FringeNYC: Dates and Times


I received the performance dates and times for CHOP as it will play at the New York International Fringe Festival next month. If you are in New York in mid-to-late August come check out the show!

Friday, August 17 at 5 PM
Saturday, August 18 at 4:15 PM
Sunday, August 19 at 1:45 PM
Wednesday, August 22 at 3:15 PM
 Friday, August 24 at 6 PM
Saturday, August 25 at 9:45 PM

Playing at the Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre (the Players Loft), 115 MacDougal Street, 3rd Floor (West 3rd Street & Bleecker).

I am not super thrilled with the times, since I don't have one really dead-on prime-time slot (7 or 8 PM on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday), but it is the nature of the Fringe, I suppose. Now I just need to concentrate of selling out the small 50 seat theatre (and I'll have to average 80% houses in order to break even financially).

The good part is, I know this theatre. I brought the show THE LAST CASTRATO to the New York Int'l Fringe in 2005 and we were in the same venue. I was doing everything except for performing that time (my colleague Jeff Swearingen performed that particular one-man show). It was known as the Players Loft then. Last summer, I guess, it was sooped up and renamed.  

The black box theatre, which measures 31’ x 43’ seats 50. It is now known as the Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre.


In addition to The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre, The Players Theatre includes a main stage 248 seat Off Broadway theatre, rehearsal studios and the famous Cafe Wha?, which has been a Greenwich Village mainstay since the 1960's.

Built in 1907 and converted into a theatre in the late 1940's, The Players Theatre has been home to such long run productions as “An Evening with Quentin Crisp”, “Psycho Beach Party” and “Ruthless” starring a very young Brittany Spears and Natalie Portman. Current productions include the haunting “PLAY DEAD” co-written by Teller (of Penn and Teller) and Todd Robbins.

Mankoff Explains New Yorker Cartoons

"What he says does have a certain plausibility, and echoes E. B. White’s famous comment: “Humor can be dissected as a frog can, but the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.”

Many years ago, Max Eastman wrote a book called “Enjoyment of Laughter” that completely ignored White’s advice. Eastman’s basic point was that humor is a kind of play, and if you don’t understand that and accept it, you won’t enjoy it.

Play is not the default mode of life, seriousness is. But play is the default mode in cartooning. What cartoonists do is play with incongruities along a continuum that stretches from reality-based humor to nonsense, and invite you to play along with them. The place on the continuum where the invitation is placed often determines the response.


"In the diagram, A is realistic humor and B is not, but both are completely gettable, while C isn’t. C doesn’t produce that jolt that you get when you suddenly understand a joke. It’s not totally random, though. There is some method to its madness. C uses the classic triplet structure of a joke.

" The triad is “hacksaw,” “green glitter,” and “flounder”—three terms you will find together only in one place when you do a Google search, and that place is in Bliss’s cartoon. So even though the cartoon is far along on the incongruity dimension, its style of Mad-Libs humor is not completely foreign. After all, most people have played Mad-Libs.

Go read the whole article called I Liked The Kitty by Bob Mankoffover on NewYorker.com


Jul 8, 2012

Touching up CYRANO A-GO-GO


I'm taking my solo "oration" CYRANO A-GO-GO to the Houston Fringe Festival in September and last week I pulled it out of the drawer to start working on it again. I wanna memorize the whole thing (a forty page monologue) and pimp it out with some more dynamic staging. I did the whole thing sort of as a speech with the script as a prompt on a music stand in front of me when I performed it last summer. I'm still keeping it as an "oration" for the historical parts, but I'm staging the contemporary pieces this time around.

And I'm re-writing a bit, too. Tightening it up and putting in a new opening. So, it was back to the research. I have a couple a great go-to books for this project and I find myself flying off on distracted flights of fancy when I pick up Ishbel Addyman's book CYRANO: ADVENTURES IN SPACE AND TIME WITH THE LEGENDARY FRENCH HERO

Re-reading passages, I can feel the rekindling of that old passion for the subject matter. The real Cyrano was a bad-ass. Rostand was a bad-ass. Coquelin was  a bad-ass. The world of Cyrano is a fun world to play in.

What world do love to immerse in?




Jul 6, 2012

Sundown Season 5


The Sundown Collaborative Theatre just announced their next season and I'm mentioned as a playwright for their April 2013 slot. I'm actually in the process of creating an original piece for Sundown. 


There's a good article on TheaterJones.com about the season announcement.

Jul 3, 2012

I Still Draw Comics

Though I've slowed down to about one a month, I'm still plugging away over at Dribble Funk Comics. Head over an visit if you haven't been in a while...

[click on image to see a clearer version] 

Jul 1, 2012

Bike Soccer Jamboree episode 6 is up!


Brad and Jeff continue their talk about folks that have had dynamic impact in their lives.

Jeff talks about a whole group of folks that he considers moving the culture and society forward via technology such as Elon MuskChris Hardwick and Felicia Day. Brad draws inspiration from Bruce Lee and starts trouble when he mentions Tim Ferriss in front of Jeff.


There's a section on arrogance vs. confidence and the BSJ podcast still does not have a call-sign...


Go and listen HERE.