Mar 31, 2015

Book Report: The Empty Space

“A stage space has two rules: (1) Anything can happen and (2) Something must happen.”  ~ Peter Brook, The Empty Space
I first read this book right after I graduated from college and have revisited it time and time again since. It is dense and Brook, as with his other books, is accessible and clear, but passionate. And he never dumbs down his thoughts and concepts for passive readers.

I have written of the wonderful things about Brook in a previous Book Report (about his book Threads of Time). He is one of my major influences. The Empty Space is one of the defining texts by Brook and, in my opinion, one of the defining texts about the theatre in the last century.

In a nutshell, Brook explores what was (is) wrong with the professional theatre by breaking it down into overlapping categories: The Deadly, The Holy, The Rough and the Immediate. The Immediate, or a theatre that genuinely lives in the moment between the performers and audience, is the goal for Brook (and for many of us that have been influenced by him).

The real value of this book is how it shifts one's mindset. Peter Brook's lines of exploration and questioning work to sort of move one's frame of reference. Reading Brook, who is serious in his criticism, I come away thinking differently about the theatre. Question everything. Take nothing for granted (even tradition). Never lose sight of the goal: to genuinely, truthfully and spontaneously engage and share something worth sharing with the audience. In this way, theatre may just create lasting memories for audiences.

In The Empty Space, Brook leaves us with an incredibly simple (though not easy) formula for what theatre can be. Here is a man that believes in the power of the stage, the infinity of a particular moment, and the saving grace of theatre. He is also well aware of the pitfalls, too. He's been there. And he's still out there. For that, I'm very glad.

Mar 29, 2015

Mar 27, 2015

Pics from CHOP at Tarrant County College

I was recently invited to perform CHOP at the college I teach at. It was sort of a faculty showcase project in the same way the music faculty plays jazz concerts throughout the year or the art faculty hang their works in the hallways.

Here's some photos from the week-long gig...

My "crew" of students who "work" on the show

Smashed cupcake

Mar 26, 2015

Book Report: Zen and the Art of Making a Living

It I had to choose one nonfiction book that has made the most profound impact on me, both as a person and in regards to what I do, it would be Laurence G. Boldt's Zen and the Art of Making a Living. Over time, I have dipped into the book again and again. It is more than what the title implies...

Though it is presented as a sort of career guide, the book is perhaps the closest thing to a bible I have on my book shelf. It takes into account the spiritual aspects of who we are when considering what we should be doing with our lives. It telescopes out and takes in a very wide-view of life. I consider it an excellent tool for living the examined existence.

The book provides inspiration, practical tools and presents good information in a very accessible way. A bunch of prominent thinkers' ideas show up throughout the book (a lot of Eastern philosophy but also Joseph Campbell, Nietzsche, Carl Jung, and a host of others). Many of these thinkers, whose work could easily be twisted to fit a shallow self-help book, are presented here to anchor several over-arcing themes. 

This book is essentially about finding one's vocation. Since I am a theatre artist primarily, with a secondary career as an educator, I have struggled in the past to reconcile the meaningfulness of the work I do with actually paying the bills.

Zen and the Art of Making a Living encourages the reader to align his or her work with inner values as much as possible and it is written from a spiritual perspective that is generally Eastern, but it does not actually push a particular worldview over any others. In particular, I really found the first portion of the book, with it's explanation of myth and zen, fascinating.

The second part focuses on choosing a career path best suited to one's talents and preferences. It not only covers the cocept of career itself, but whether one is best as self-employed, freelance or working for a company. It also helps with getting interviews and writing resumes. Throughout this section, questions and worksheets are provided so one can work out not only what job to look for, but also what one expects to accomplish when the job is obtained. Extensive resources and guidelines are provided.

The first part is inspirational, the last part is extremely practical.

If you have the discipline to work through this book (and it is long), you will learn a lot about yourself and the type of work that makes you most happy. It will also show you how to take what you most love doing and create opportunities to do more of it.

This is not a "quick-fix" career guide that one can just skim over and find the perfect job. It is a guide for looking within oneself to find the ideal mesh of talent and happiness and finding a job (or creating one) that suits one best.

Highly recommended. Get a copy on Amazon... HERE.

Mar 23, 2015

The Actor as a Freakin' Entrepreneur - FREE Workshop

I am teaching a special FREE workshop on Easter. Come and learn some stuff after you've gone to church and hunted for eggs that afternoon.

"The Actor as a Freakin' Entrepreneur"

A career as an actor is not the same as it once was. The contemporary actor has to apply fresh professional thinking to a traditional field. This new breed of actor is lean and flexible in his or her approach to carving out a career, as well as way more entrepreneurial in spirit.The contemporary actor is not merely an interpretive, passive artist but an active instigator in the industry and art form.

In this fun workshop Brad McEntire offers a short and sweet overview of the side of performing that is NOT performing (marketing, networking, organizing, email lists, web presence, playing to one's strengths, etc.). The focus will be on what will help you get both attention as an actor and help you begin to carve out your own freakin' purposeful career.

Where: S.T.A.G.E., 1106 Lupo Dr. Dallas, TX 75207 [map]

When: Sunday, April 5, 2015

Time: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM

Details: w/Brad McEntire

Cost: FREE to S.T.A.G.E. members, $25 for non-members

Please call to reserve your spot... 214-630-7722

Info... HERE

Mar 21, 2015

CHOP at Tarrant County College

If you missed my solo show CHOP last month at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, you have one more opportunity to catch it. I will be performing the piece as a sort of "faculty showcase" project at the college I work at, Tarrant County College's Southeast Campus. It is technically open to the outside public. Info below. 

(click on image to see it larger)

Mar 20, 2015

Yeah I got skills... I run a theatre company...

[Credit: How to Playwright]

A friend on Facebook posted a link to an article recently. The article was about how high school students going into theatre programs in college actually acquire a hellalotta skills, regardless of whether or not they make it to Broadway (or to whatever level they assume means "success" in the theatre when they come out of high school). 

I was thinking about this today and I realize that not just studying theatre, but specifically running a theatre company has afforded me a skill set that makes me very competitive in the contemporary marketplace (and not just me, but anyone who runs a theatre group, big or small, in today's world).

For instance, as a person that runs a theatre comapny I know how to...
  • coordinate meetings, rehearsals, and appointments
  • handle the scheduling and managing of disparate personalities
  • dutchman a flat
  • program a lightboard
  • set up a microphone
  • find contact info on people who don't offer it up freely
  • research among vast reserves of theoretical, historical, philosophical points of interest
  • edit, format and post online videos, audio, documents, photos, etc.
  • design websites
  • maintain mailing lists
  • keep track of "brand" aesthetic
  • keep on message
  • accept criticism in context and, often, gracefully
  • Forge my own path of progression where none is laid out before me
  • enforce my own standards of excellence
  • communicate to the press and media
  • create my own press and media
  • write everything from blog posts, to tweets, to media pitches, press releases, and so on
  • get a physical object such as a set piece or article of costume from one location to another
  • keep track of countless details
  • be on time and prepared
  • be courteous in follow-up (including sending thank you cards or shout outs on FB)
  • work under pressure (Tech Week!)
  • rest when necessary, work harder when necessary
  • celebrate when necessary
  • grow a following
  • make something from scratch where it previously wasn't even imagined!
Notice these skills are up and beyond simply playwriting, directing, and performing... (that one can do that stuff and do it well is a given). 

Sometimes, because theatre is not always profitable in the cold economic terms of the marketplace, it is believed to be easier. The artists involved are sometimes thought to be "unfit" for "real work." Nothing could be further from the truth.

I run a theatre company. As a market force, then, I am actually something to be reckoned with.

Mar 19, 2015

Cyrano A-Go-Go wins Best of Fest at Out of the Loop

I am thrilled that my solo show CYRANO A-GO-GO was so well-received at the recent Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. Audience feedback was so positive and I recieved standing ovations each night. Here are some pics from the show and a link to the article outlining CYRANO A-GO-GO as well as the other Best of Fest winners... HERE

"Brad McEntire"

Book Report: Peter Brook's Theads of Time

If I had to name a single figure who has influenced me the most profoundly as a theatre artist, it would be Peter Brook. And this fact is something Peter Brook would not approve of. Brook refuses to be anyone's guru.

He defines himself as a “searcher” rather than a guru laying down some sort of set doctrine to those he has influenced. His ideas continue to fascinate and inspire me. In my personal Mt. Rushmore of artists who have had profound affects on me he is perhaps the least preachy, the least didactic. 

Moreover, I can sum up the exact things that have been impressed upon me about Brook. First off, his theatre is foremost about storytelling. The story trumps all. Secondly, he believes in the maxim of the famous French chef and restaurateur, Auguste Escoffier: faites simple (keep it simple). And last, and most important, he has a deeply intense respect for the audience. He sees them as more than just passive watchers and listeners. In Brook’s concept of theatre, the audience is essential; without it, nothing happens. “The relationship between the actor and the audience is the only theatre reality,” he once told an interviewer. 
Threads of Time is Brook's introspective, soulful autobiography. It is as different from the usual show-biz memoir as his imaginative productions are from traditional commercial theatre shows. 

Born in 1925, London-raised and Oxford-educated, Brook first began to make his mark during the 1950s and '60s with inventive Shakespeare (including a blood-soaked Titus Andronicus, an acrobatic A Midsummer Night's Dream and a celebrated King Lear) and avant-garde European works (Marat/Sade). He also relates in the book that he was immersed in the mystical teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. In 1971 Brook founded the International Center for Theater Research, which brought together actors from different traditions and countries in an attempt to make theater reach across cultural boundaries and become truly universal. The productions resulting included The Mahabharata and The Man Who (based on the writings of neurologist Oliver Sacks).

Brook's representations of how these unusual pieces were collaboratively created are as absorbing as his compelling descriptions of earlier working relationships with actors like Paul Scofield and John Gielgud. The thing is, Brook is not an other-worldly metaphysician: he relates his spiritual and artistic discoveries very precisely to the insights they gave him about the theatre. 

For a memoir by a theatre person, there is no gossip, which is not that surprising since it is Brook. But still... I mean, his two children are only mentioned once; his wife (actress Natasha Parry) appears primarily as a working companion. Instead of personal chit-chat, Brook offers the chronicle of a very individual, very committed quest. It leaves a moving impression of a man deeply fulfilled both spiritually and artistically.

If you are a fan of the theatre and of Brook, Threads of Time is definitely worth a read.

Get a copy on Amazon if you want. Here's a link... LINK

Mar 15, 2015

We Live Here - Staged Reading

Playwright Zoe Kazan
I am acting in a Staged Reading of WE LIVE HERE by playwright Zoe Kazan. It is part of Echo Theatre Company's series Echo Reads (which is run by my friend Miller Pyke).

Here's the run-down:

Allie Bateman's wedding is Sunday. When Dinah, her precocious younger sister, returns to their parents' home for the festivities, she brings more than anyone expected: a new boyfriend, whose hidden history resurrects passions and painful memories for the whole family. Over one emotionally charged weekend, the Batemans find they must acknowledge and accept loss to gain hope for regeneration. 

Cast includes:

Kevin Keating - Lawrence
Nancy Smith Munger - Maggie
Miller Pyke - Althea
Devon Rose - Dinah
Brad McEntire - Sandy
Dan Schmoker - Daniel

Directed by Lisa Anne Haram.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Bath House Cultural Center
521 East Lawther Drive, Dallas, Texas, 75218


More info about Echo Reads... HERE.

Mar 14, 2015

Cyrano A-Go-Go in

Strong start for ‘Out of the Loop’ with comedy, wonder

Nancy Churnin | | March 10, 2015
ADDISON — The icy weather pushed WaterTower Theatre’s 14th annual Out of the Loop Fringe Festival back one day, but it roared back strongly Friday night. There was a smorgasbord of hourlong shows in three indoor spaces and conversation bubbling in the lobby between the 7:30 and 9 p.m. performances at Addison Conference and Theatre Centre.
Out of the Loop is a creative playground that gives artists a chance to try something new and audiences a chance to experience the unexpected, with the sensation of being blindfolded as you dip your hand into a goody bag. You don’t know if what you’re going to get will delight or perplex or, indeed, if what delights you will perplex your neighbor.
. . .
Theater artists dream about plays that can change the world. What a shock when it happens. In his Cyrano A-Go-Go monologue, Dallas’ Brad McEntire tells the story of Cyrano de Bergerac, the play that led to a two-hour standing ovation in 1897, followed by people in France weeping, forgiving each other and canceling duels.
In an earlier version with the same title, McEntire stuck to the history. Here he masterfully weaves it with his own story of how encountering the play at 15 in the public library proved a life-changing experience. With just one more story to bring us full circle to why he felt compelled to create this piece, it could soar.
Original review... HERE

Note: Usually, I just post these reviews and leave them without comment. Sometimes I'll correct for accuracy. In this case, I appreciate the reviewer coming out to see the show, but don't understand her final comment. The whole premise of Cyrano A-Go-Go is an explanation of how the play Cyrano de Bergerac affected me. The piece itself is a telling of why I am doing the piece.

Mar 10, 2015

CYRANO A-GO-GO in Dallas Observer

"Brad McEntire"

Some Strong Solo Turns at WaterTower's 14th Out of the Loop Festival

By Elaine Liner | Tue., Mar. 10 2015 | 

Unrequited love, that hard right to the heart, that sharp cut to the gut, has inspired two good new solo shows by local actor-writers Van Quattro and Brad McEntire. Quattro's Standing 8 Count and McEntire's Cyrano A-Go-Go were audience faves on the opening weekend of the 14th annual Out of the Loop theater festival at Addison's WaterTower Theatre.

 . . . 

Cyrano A-Go-Go also uses lost love as a theme, weaving in the history of Edmund Rostand's timeless play about the big-nosed romantic who is so insecure around women. Cyrano speaks his passionate thoughts through a handsome (but dumb) surrogate. McEntire unmasks his own hard lessons as a young performer, romantically and professionally. "Unrequited love was, by default, my love of choice," he says at the top of the one-hour show, presented in casual lecture format. 

McEntire acts some of the loveliest bits of Rostand's original Cyrano, occasionally digressing to discuss other topics. He refers to the "optimal experience" and the "flow" of true happiness, which McEntire says he felt as a high school kid in Carrollton, plucking Cyrano de Bergerac off a library shelf and reading it twice in one afternoon. 

"It takes a big-hearted character actor to play Cyrano," McEntire says in his play. And a man who's felt some heartbreak, too. (This one produced by Audacity Theatre Lab goes on again at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 13; and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 15, in the Stone Cottage at WaterTower.) 

Out of the Loop Festival continues through March 15 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Rd., Addison. Tickets, $10 per show, 972-450-6232. 

Original article... HERE

Mar 6, 2015


Drama instructor Brad McEntire is the writer and lone actor in CHOP, opening March 25 at TCC-SE.
Photo by: Bogdan Sierra Miranda/The Collegian

SE Campus to Present a Story of Love and Isolation
By Linah Mohammad, SE News Editor | The Collegian | March 4, 2015.

A one-man show about love, written by a SE adjunct instructor, is the next theater production on the campus.
CHOP by Brad McEntire will run March 25-27 in the Blackbox Theatre (ESEE 1316).
McEntire is excited to bring this production to SE.
“I see this production of CHOP like the SE theater department, equivalent of the other art departments, exhibiting their work,” he said.
This one-man show features only McEntire himself. It is about a man finding love in himself, in another person and in an unlikely community.
“This show is a darkly comic romance,” he said. “At the heart of it, CHOP is a love story.”
CHOP came about as McEntire was living and teaching in Hong Kong, where he felt a culture shock and the isolation of living abroad tremendously affected him.
“That sense of isolation prompted me to begin writing, and it became a major theme in the piece,” he said. “Also, I had written an earlier play that I had abandoned. It had a character that experienced a bizarre event during an otherwise romantic date. Though that play didn’t pan out, I really liked the character. That character kind of developed into the protagonist in CHOP.”
McEntire wrote this play in 2007 while living in Hong Kong. Its first premiere, however, wasn’t until 2010 in Water Tower Theatre’s annual Out of the Loop Festival in Addison. He has been performing it off and on since then.
Since this is a solo show, it is different from other traditional plays, McEntire said. It requires a lot of energy and focus on the actor’s behalf.
“This is a one-person show. I play the main character but also play about half a dozen other characters in the piece,” he said. “I am on stage the whole time, from the moment the lights come up until the end.”
The performance will be modernized. McEntire is going to break the fourth wall and speak directly to the audience. The audience, in fact, has a role to play in this piece.
“If the play lags or the audience doesn’t get on board and come along on the journey in the play, it is my fault, my responsibility,” he said. “I, personally, like the challenge of that. If it were really easy, it probably wouldn’t be as fun.”
Angela Inman, SE drama associate professor, said having somebody like McEntire adds to the SE drama department and giving the students a chance to work with an active member of the professional theater is an exciting opportunity.
“We want them [students] to see that they can be proactive in developing their own performance opportunities, such as Brad has done with CHOP,” she said. “They don’t have to wait around for someone else to hire or cast them. They can create and market their own performance projects.”
The performance, as McEntire describes it, is about a man’s encounter with his true mission — a subculture of amputation fetishists.
CHOP proves that meaning can come from the most unexpected places,” Martin Dockery, a storyteller and solo performer, said in a review on CHOP’s website. “The same can be said of Brad McEntire’s engaging performance, turning a story about a loner’s introduction into the world of amputation fetishists into a universal tale about finding one’s own place in life.”
The content is a bit weird, but it is accessible and, hopefully, awesome, McEntire said. There’s no questionable language, so anybody is welcome.
“I hope the audience goes off afterward and talk about the show and how it does or does not relate with their own lives,” he said. “In a sense, this is what all theater should do … haunt the viewer just a bit and prompt reflection.”
at the SE Campus
A solo show by Brad McEntire
7:30 p.m. March 25-27
1:30 p.m. March 27
Blackbox Theatre (ESEE 1316)
Free for TCC students, faculty and staff
$3 for other students or seniors
$6 for the general public
Tickets:The box office opens one hour before showtime
First-come, first-served
Original post... HERE

Cyrano A-Go-Go opens on March 7

Brad McEntire performs CYRANO A-GO-GO a literary, historical
and personal exlporation of the 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac by
Edmond Rostand (top). McEntire covers the real-life Cyrano (left)
 and the first actor to play the part, Benoit-Constant Coquelin (right)

CYRANO A-GO-GO is an exploration of one restless theatre artist's fascination with the swashbuckling 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand. A chance encounter with the script at a suburban public library at the age of 15 leads to a cruel and wonderful calling. Presented as an old-school oration the piece mixes the personal, historical and literary into a journey through Rostand's play.McEntire presents a funny, warm, insightful meditation on the nature of theatricality, the nobility of personal identity and the hard-won lessons of love, unrequited and otherwise.

Playing as part of the 2015 Out of the Loop Fringe Festival

WaterTower Theatre at the Addison Theatre Centre
Stone Cottage Theatre
15650 Addison Road, Addison, TX 75001

Saturday March 7 – 5:00 pm
Friday March 13 – 7:30 pm
Sunday March 15 – 7:30 pm

Single tickets to all events go on sale Feb. 24. Festival Passes, now on sale, include one admission to each Festival event and are $65.  WaterTower Theatre subscribers receive $10 off each Festival pass.  Individual ticket prices for each event are $10 or $15.  

More ticket information at 972-450-6232 or via email at:

Mar 1, 2015

Daisey Says Cheat

I saw Mike Daisey perform two of his The Great Tragedies monologues this weekend - Romeo & Juliet and MacBeth, despite the icy weather here in Dallas (one show courtesy of Daisey himself who fronted some comps... much gratitude). Good stuff. As a solo performer myself, I have listened to many of his shows on recordings. I have seen him perfom a few times in the past (How Theatre Failed America, Great Men of Genius, etc.). His 24 hour-in-total-duration monologue All The Hours of the Day served as inspiration for my own 6 hour and 20 minute solo longform monologue experiement Dribble Funk 380

I am particularly interested in how he puts his shows together. I have started to pay really close attention to the structure of his shows and how he paces them. It was really wonderful to get a chance to study his work up close again.

I was reminded of this article I read years ago. I had to look for it, but this is Mike talking about carving a career out in the arts in an interview with DC Theatre Scene back in 2011:

Instead of trudging through the ranks of various theater companies, it seems like you’ve very much created your own space for yourself as a performer. Do you have any advice for other prospective monologists or otherwise ambitious performers?

I do! My largest piece of advice is to cheat. It’s very important to cheat. People are prone to not cheating, but they need to cheat. The system of the theater as it’s designed is to prevent people from rising, because there are more people, more artists, more actors, more people who want to work in the theater than there is capacity. So the theater is actually dedicated to getting rid of as many people as possible. The dominant paradigm is actually to get rid of people.

So if you follow all the rules – if you go to the right grad schools, if you do everything exactly by the letter – you’ll probably fail, because the system is built to get rid of 99.999 percent of the people… Everyone I know who’s been successful in the theater is so because they cheated in some way or another. They discovered what advantages they had that no other people could emulate, and they worked to exploit those things. They used the talent they naturally have, but they also found edges and angles other people couldn’t exploit or emulate to game the system.

I really think that people who want to be successful in the arts have to carve a space out for themselves. The only way to do that is to follow unconventional wisdom. If people truly want to be successful, they have to learn how everyone is supposed to do things, and then figure out how they’ll subvert it.