Jun 28, 2014

Fretz Rec Drama Camp

My kids were amazing today. I had a bunch of 7-13 year olds in my Junior Players Drama Camp over the last two weeks. Today was their show. I was stationed at Dallas' Fretz Recreation Center. I introduced the kiddos to elements of a story (main charcaters, objectves, obstacles, etc.) and they came up with the ingredients of the play. It was called Talking Jello Wants a New Phone. Here's a shot taken just before the performance itself.

Here are some shots of the class in action...

Jun 27, 2014

Dribble Funk to play at 6th Big Sexy

I will be performing a Dribble Funk Solo Improv set as part of the 6th Dallas Big Sexy Weekend of Improv. Here's the info:

Saturday, June 12, 2014 at 7 PM
At the Margo Jones Theatre in the Magnolia Lounge,
Fair Park,
1121 First Avenue, Dallas TX 75210

I'll be sharing the slot with some other great troupes: Random Access Memory (Dallas) and Shades of Brown (Austin, TX).

Tickets are $12... info and reservations HERE.

PUPfest 2014 Pics

Back on June 14, I directed a a student-written one-act called The Holding Fix. It was part of a student-actor-and-playwright project called PUPFest coordinated by Junior Players and Kitchen Dog Theater. They just released some great pics of the actual performances by photographer DiAnn L'Roy.

I was really proud of the work the younf performers put into the project.

Jun 18, 2014

But I Suck at the Administrative Stuff Workshop

For the last few years I have run a theatre company out of a laptop, embraced media relations and found a use for social media. I'm not a guru, but I have learned a bunch of hard-won lessons on being a proactive performing artist in these contemporary times. This workshop is about the stuff that doesn't always come easy to performers and artists... the administrative stuff.

"Brad McEntire"

But I Suck At the Administrative Stuff...

So you have performed for a few years, you have a group that works well together, you rarely have an absolutely embarrassing show. Now you wanna grow your audiences, get more press, organize your damn press kits and submission packets. You wanna get the word out. 

Sadly, a lot of troupes are filled with people who mutter “I’m just no good at that businessy stuff” and ignore it. Then they wonder why their troupe doesn’t get very far. 

Brad McEntire offers a short and sweet overview of the side of improv and theatre that is NOT performing (i.e. marketing, organizing, email lists, web presence, etc.). He will help you create ways to share your process. Remember, you don't find an audience, the audience finds you.

I will be offering this all new workshop as part of the 6th Annual Big Sexy Weekend of Improv.

Cost is $20. Saturday, July 12, 2014 at 3 PM. Info... HERE

Jun 14, 2014

PUPFest 2014

Rehearsals for The Holding Fix at PUPFest 2014
The cast of The Holding Fix. Good group of student artists.
This week I have been working with some great high school student actors and playwrights as part of Kitchen Dog Theater and Junior Player's PUPFest 2014 (which stands for Playwrights Under Process). I am directing a play by a young man named Tom. It is a funny one-act called The Holding Fix. He was heavily influenced by Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guilenstern Are Dead and Samuel Beckett's Waiting For Godot

I am often amazed at the number of young playwrights who really take to Godot as a launching point for their own works. It is the third Godot-inspired student play I have been assigned in the half-dozen years I have been involved with PUPFest. Which is kinda nice (and flattering, since it is my wheelhouse).The Holding Fix involves two limo drivers in an airport terminal waiting for their fares, who they may have missed or may never show up.

I have had a great group of student actors who have been enthusiastic and attentive, even as I have been drilling bits of comic business into them, making harsh demands about pacing and strongly insisting they play all objectives fully.

Nice write-up on the DallasNews.com blog, too... HERE

It premieres as a staged reading (emphasis on "staged") at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary's black box space, Saturday June 14, 2014 at both 1 PM and 4 PM. Free admission. More info... HERE.

The cast, director and playwright of The Holding Fix

The Holding Fix in performance

Jun 8, 2014

A DSF Debriefing on TheaterJones.com

A Solo Debriefing

Brad McEntire, producer of the recent Dallas Solo Fest, on what he learned from the project.

published Friday, June 6, 2014

DALLAS - Recently, under the banner of my small theatre company, Audacity Theatre Lab, I produced the first ever Dallas Solo Fest, a fringe-like celebration of one-person theatrical performance. The goal was to introduce Dallas audiences to a wide range of solo performances styles as well as raise awareness of the format in the north Texas area. To that end, I brought together a curated collection of solo performers from around the country along with several local favorites.

I have been producing for years and though the festival was small by arts festival standards (with only eight productions), this was the largest event of this kind I’ve ever attempted. I am a hands-on producer and by virtue of the way Audacity Theatre Lab is set up, I was the sole staff member until right before the festival began. The project presented several challenges, but ultimately it went over pretty well.

Here’s what I learned…

Get a Grant

When I began planning the Dallas Solo Fest back in the summer of last year, one of the people I reached out to was Grant Knutson. Through his group Minion Productions, he serves as a sort of consultant/coordinator/coach for fringe performers aiming to tackle the many “fringe” theatre festivals around North America.

Fringes are generally distinguished by short, unconventional performances and low-cost tickets with a large share of ticket sales returned to artists. Many open their stages to amateurs as well as seasoned acts.

Upon its launch in 1947, the Edinburgh International Festival of performing arts was eclipsed by a more grassroots event. In makeshift performance spaces around the city—"round the fringe" of the official performing arts festival, as one journalist put it—artists began mounting small-scale, independent performances. There in Edinburgh, Scotland, the "fringe festival" concept began. It has since spread all over the world.

Grant was curious about how I was putting together a national festival from the ground up and I was curious to pick his brain. He currently sits on the board of the Fresno Fringe and has assisted administratively behind the scenes of several other festivals. So, he, like me, had worked on both sides of the curtain: the artist’s side and the administration side. He also knew several of the artists in the Dallas Solo Fest personally from his own travels. He offered to come down during the fest and help and I took him up on it.

I am so glad I did. Besides supplying lots of good ideas, observations and being a great sounding board, it was good to have another set of hands. Besides the board operator Shea Smith, the staff during the festival itself consisted of me, my wife Ruth Engel and some on-again-off-again support from fellow Audacity artist Jeff Hernandez. Grant did everything from updating social media to taking out trash. And he did it all with a positive attitude.

To have one more informed and good-natured staff member made the whole event much more manageable. My recommendation to anyone doing a festival like this in the future… you should also get yourself a Grant.

Plan for the Unexpected

On the first Saturday of the Dallas Solo Fest, around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I learned there was going to be a thousand people right next door to the Margo Jones Theatre in a matter of hours. They would be celebrating something called Bayou Bash. Needless to say, this took me by surprise. The Bayou Bash is a huge picnic-style fundraiser for Alumni Association of Southern University, complete with outdoor DJ and authentic Louisiana cuisine. They had rented the African American Museum next door to the theatre and had spread onto the balcony of the theatre itself.

They did not know we were going to be at the Margo Jones and I didn’t know they were going to be throwing a loud party next door at the Museum until right before our respective events.

For the most basic of productions, the unexpected will happen. For a festival with so many moving parts I learned this phenomenon increases a hundred fold. Actors had flights cancelled, keys to billets didn’t work, last minute props had to be located, audiences went to the other Margo Jones Theatre (the one at SMU), typos were found on flyers after bunches were printed and so much more.

The whole two weeks was an extended exercise in constant problem-solving. On top of this, if things went smoothly, no one was the wiser. If problems occurred, everyone knew. Though it was certainly stressful, it was also a wonderful challenge…and even kind of fun.

Love the Locals

The three locals brought in their respective audiences, they delivered great performances, and more importantly they served as excellent representatives of Dallas.

Elaine Liner, Danny O’Connor and John Michael could have retreated into exclusively marketing their own shows, just shown up to do their techs and performances and not really been a part of the overall festival beyond simple participant. That didn’t happen. They totally stepped up and got the word out.

Elaine, Danny and John met and chatted with the out-of-towners. They showed genuine enthusiasm for the festival.  The individual and rather disparate crowds of Elaine Liner, Danny O’Connor and John Michael really made the festival a distinctly “Dallas” event. And an economically feasible one at that.

Not only did they perform some kick-ass shows, what I am most proud of is that they were great ambassadors for Dallas, especially to the out-of-town artists. Elaine, Danny and John welcomed the traveling performers with open arms. They held and attended workshops. They bought beers and talked shop.

I was so pleased to have these three particular local performers, each in his or her distinct way, represent the cultural landscape of Dallas so well.

Just Ask

The Dallas Solo Fest received sponsorship and partnerships that helped make the event an even bigger and better.

Uber, the car service app, partnered with DSF and supplied $20 credit vouchers for Dallas Solo Fest patrons who became first time Uber users. They allowed us to send out a promo code to our mailing list. We gave Uber cards to festival pass holders, Kickstarter supporters and workshop participants. Cards were given to the out-of-town artists (a great perk in a car-city like Dallas).

How did this Uber partnership happen? Well, I asked them. And they said "yes."
TheaterJones became our official media sponsor. They ran preview articles, profiles of the performers and reviews of all eight shows. They created a special section on their website for the Dallas Solo Fest. It worked out for both parties. It drove traffic to their website and the DSF profited from the exposure.

How did this TheaterJones sponsorship happen? Well, I asked them (and then one of the local performers also asked them). They said “yes.”

Before the festival, I created the ultimate “ask” with a Kickstarter campaign. I asked for monetary support and 34 different people stepped up, donated to the cause and said “yes.” The outstanding Kickstarter supporters helped establish the potential of the fest. They made the initial awesomeness possible.

I have learned not to underestimate the power of simply asking.

Good Vibes Go a Long Way

One bad apple could have spoiled the whole barrel, but that didn’t happen. All the performers, even the ones who had travelled from half-a-country away, were positive and humble. There were no divas. Everyone was patient and courteous and, most importantly, professional.

The audiences spanned a wide range of demographics. All were welcome. We tried to maintain a casual atmosphere in the lobby between productions, encouraged talk with the artists outside after shows and most of the performers gave little-shout outs to the other performers or the festival as a whole from the stage after their shows.

I truly believe the positivity and enthusiasm was infectious. It was generated by the organizers, and spread to the artists and patrons. It went a long way to making the festival a really fun event.
My hope was that the artists traveling in from out of town would leave with a good impression of the city as well as with their experience at the Dallas Solo Fest. From the feedback I have received so far, that has been the case.

Overall, the Dallas Solo Fest was a challenge, but a really enjoyable, educational one. Maybe I’ll have to do another one in the future…

» Brad McEntire is the artistic director and founder of Audacity Theatre Lab, and the founder of the first Dallas Solo Fest.

Original post HERE.

Jun 3, 2014

Let's Go We Can't print

"Let's Go We Can't" print by Brad McEntire

The last in my series of illustrations inspired by the plays of Samuel Beckett is now up at my Society 6 store. Get a premium quality art print for as low as $15. Get the whole set of 4 for a flat out $60. FREE SHIPPING until June 8. Act now!

Check 'em out HERE.

Jun 1, 2014

Method and Madness Playwriting Panel

Elle VerneĆ©, Laura Lundgren Smith, me, Steven Young
During the panel discussion, I covered Kevin Kelly's "1000 True Fans"

Earlier this weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in a playwriting panel with the Denton Community Theatre's 3rd Annual Method and Madness Playwriting Competition and Festival at the PointBank Blackbox Theatre in Denton, Texas. I was in excellent company with fellow playwrights Elle VerneĆ©, Steven Young and Laura L. Smith. Organized by the very energetic and enthusiastic Mandy Rausch, the panel turned out to be a lot of fun. 

What struck me was with four different playwrights in the stage, each of us had different goals, different working methods, different preferences and so on. There was practically no overlap between us as artists, but were all courteous and friendly and engaging as people. Just goes to show there are as many ways to do things as there are people out there to do them.

In fact, I think this was  a plus for the small audience listening. They were definitely exposed to multiple points of view.

Also, in the same weekend, my friend and colleague Tashina Richardson of Sundown Collaborative Theatre teamed up with Mandy to lead a Staged Reading Workshop. They used my early play Arsenic and Roses as the demo script. Hopefully someone got some pics.