Jan 29, 2014

ROCKET PACKS, TIGERS AND GOLDFISH - feature in StarLocalMedia.com's Going Places

Kelley Chambers of StarLocalMedia.com did a wonderful Q-and-A with me this week...

Going Places: Rocket packs, tigers and goldfish

By Kelley Chambers | Carrollton Leader | January 29, 2014
Brad McEntire stars as Robot and Jeff Swearingen as Dinosaur in “Dinosaur and Robot Stop a Train.” The one-act play, written by McEntire, premiered as part of the 2013 Festival of Independent Theatres last June at the Bath House Cultural Center in Dallas
So far, 2014 holds some new and promising endeavors for director and playwright Brad McEntire.
Known for his passion for creating small yet powerful theatre productions, the Carrollton native’s latest production of director Andy Eninger’s “The Last Castrato” at the Margo Jones Theatre in Dallas wrapped last week with glowing reviews. Also earlier this month, his production company, Audacity Theatre Lab, hosted McEntire’s solo piece, “I Brought Home a Chupacabra” as part of the YOLO Solo Fest of one-person, one-act plays.
Catch another one of McEntire’s own off-the-wall solo pieces, “Roberts' Eternal Goldfish,” when it debuts at the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival at the WaterTower Theatre this March in Addison.
“I’m trying to do high-quality professional theater that doesn’t cost much. It’s not a stepping stone to get to something bigger - the goal is the small.”

SLM: How did you get your start in the local arts community?
BM: “I started Audacity Productions in 1999 while in New York. We did a reading at Art Centre in Plano – that was the first thing we did. It was a total garage band sort of operation. We dissolved in 2006 [when] I moved to Hong Kong … and I made a new company named Audacity Theatre Lab in 2008. Now we’re trying to do real gritty, small in scale but big in scope [shows]. That’s been my rallying cry.”
SLM: With plays named “Chop” and “Dinosaur and Robot Stop a Train,” how would you describe your style? And how do you come up with this stuff?
BM: “My wife said it best when she said ‘you blend kitsch and resonance.’ I like dinosaurs and jetpacks and tiki gods; I like all these kinds of novelty things, but I like for them to serve a purpose, to serve the message of the play. I write the stuff I want to see, because nobody is writing the stuff I want to see. The Dallas theater community is pretty big, and there’s enough room in it to do [what you want to do].”
SLM: Any other influences besides your own imagination?
BM: “[Daniel Quinn] who wrote the book “Ishmael” wrote another book [called “Beyond Civilization”], and he has this theory of tribes in it. His thesis is that when humanity turned to civilization, we mucked everything up. Civilization works as a big hierarchy. Quinn's thought was if we still lived tribally, we would be more plugged in rather than living in a hierarchy where status tends to trump results.
His writing was very influential on me because it sparked this thought... what if everybody was their own "tribe?" Instead of the traditional hierarchy in theater, where designers design, directors direct and the actors act and everyone answers to someone above them on the food chain …you could have a theater company composed of people who could do all the roles in a tribe – we could even trade off if we needed to. I like this idea so much, but we’re very role driven people. Especially people in the theatre. It’s a collaborative art form. It’s very hard to convey [this tribe-of-one idea], and it’s very hard to get people who usually just interpret something someone else made to understand it. There's a risk in it. You are responsible for your idea. You are an instigator.”
Carrollton native Brad McEntire started Audacity Theatre Lab in 2008, but his humble beginnings with his production company began at the Art Centre in Plano, where he hosted a “garage band style” reading. Since then, McEntire has built upon his company and is well-versed in directing, writing, improvisation, cartooning, and probably a few other talents related to the arts community.
SLM: You write and direct on your own plays – doesn’t that keep you extremely busy?
BM: “It does, but only when I want it to. We don’t manage a space, we’re invited to play. When we’re there at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park [where Audacity Theatre Lab is one of a few invited groups] we pay in sweat equity. The rest of the time we’re not there, we don’t manage the space so we don’t have to keep money coming in. If the artists in Audacity don’t have any ideas, we simply don’t do any theater, and if we have a lot of ideas, we do a lot of theater. The time schedule’s really organic. There's really low overhead, so there's really no need for a constant stream of income. Most theaters don’t operate that way. They have to fund raise constantly and stay relentlessly active in order to keep the doors open. We found that we have a lot of freedom by just not having any doors.”
SLM: Where all have you hosted your productions?
BM: “All over the place. The Bath House Cultural Center, WaterTower Theatre, Teatro Dallas, the Ochre House in Dallas. We’ve done stuff at Starbucks, in art galleries, and we’ve done stuff in lobbies of apartment buildings. We in Audacity put the project together, then we think, ‘Where can we do this?’ The goal itself is not to get as large an audience as possible but to get an audience that is as interested, as engaged as possible. Most of our shows are meant for intimate spaces, for small audiences.”
SLM: You seem to see theater a bit differently than most. What is your theory or your plan of attack when it comes to producing good stage productions?
BM: “First and foremost, we shoot for quality. That's a given. Small-in-scale theater is one of those things that often gets a bad rap, because it’s considered amateur. I’m trying to do high-quality professional theater that doesn’t cost much. It’s not a stepping stone to get to something bigger, the goal is the small. The good thing is nowadays in order to run a theater all you need is a laptop for all the administrative stuff. And for the production side, we’ve streamlined it so that all we need, most of the time, is what can fit in a dufflebag or two.”
SLM: How has the feedback been so far?
BM: “The shows have been well-received. Reviews are mostly good. The trick is getting the word out. I am actively  learning the marketing side of things just now."

"I am slowly earning recognition from my colleagues, though that is very gradual. One observation I've made, is that the more I turn to creating and producing my own work under my own banner [AudacityTheatre Lab] the more I feel kind of isolated from the greater theater community here in North Texas. This has been more pronounced since I began working on solo shows over the last few years. I now have to make more of an effort to get out and participate in the cultural landscape and to keep track of what my fellow theatre professionals are doing."

"I’m at a point in my career where I can proudly put my name on everything I make. I’m kind of now in the early middle days of my playwriting and producing , so I’ve gone through the [preliminary work] that was needed. I've been at this for over twenty years. I have a lot of experience and training under my belt. I'm proud of pretty much everything I turn out now. That wasn't always the case as I was coming up. So, that's a thrill. There’s no apology. There's no saying, 'Oh, it's okay if you don't see this one, maybe catch the next one...' Everything is pretty solid and thought-through and I'm usually really pleased to present any new project to my audiences. Now I invite everyone I know to come see everything I do.”
For more information about Brad McEntire, visit bradmcentire.com.

No comments:

Post a Comment