Jan 25, 2016

TARANTUBEARS in TheaterJones

It's Got Legs! 
At the Margo Jones Theatre, Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez's Night of the Tarantubears has more depth than you might expect. 

by David Novinski | TheaterJones.com | Monday, January 25, 2016

Dani Martin as Crossbow Joan in NIGHT OF THE TARANTUBEARS

Dallas — With a title like Night of the Tarantubears, audiences might be tempted to think this is a lesser offering in the artistic panoply of Metroplex theater, but the schlocky spoof title is part of the devious smokescreen devised by cowriters Jeff Hernandez and Brad McEntire (who also directed it). While the masses think they’re just indulging in jump scares and apocalyptic fantasy, they’re really being exposed to high quality theater.

Well, played Audacity Theatre Lab. Well, played.

The scheme starts with preshow music of matinee sci-fi flicks interrupted by radio talk show callers describing troubles with the half-bear/half-tarantulas that started out as a fad pet. The Margo Jones Theatre plays itself with furniture and rehearsal blocks thrown about in ad hoc barricades. Part of the fun of imagining the end of the world is envisioning everything you know torn apart, after all. Director/designer McEntire doesn’t disappoint, even employing the doors and lobby for some of the action. This performance happened at sundown, which conveniently coincided with the plot. As gimmicky as the site-specific references to Fair Park may sound, there were genuine shivers as the last light of the day left the lobby.

Kasey Tackett plays the ubiquitous narrator/survivor. As Anderson, he rattles off what seems like inconsequential commentary on our society’s preoccupation with cat videos. The ingenious link is that the unthinking fascination with those videos is the same reason the bearantulas, er, tarantubears took off. In this way, the writers follow a long tradition of sci-fi/horror authors taking society’s ills to an extreme. The old trope of an old man staring into a hobo fire saying, “Nobody knows how it started” is here replaced by a young guy shaking his head in wonder at the viral growth of a fad.

Before things get that cerebral, though, the character Crossbow Joan bolts into Anderson’s hideout at the theatre. Dani Martin plays her with surprising honesty, which sets the stage literally for the scenes to come. The second couple to find refuge in the Margo Jones coincidentally is Collin (Brian Witkowicz) and Samantha (Miller Pyke). She has recently broken up with him and even more coincidentally has gone on a date with Anderson. To round out the fun, far-fetched nature of this whole endeavor, Whitney Holotik plays a thick accented Government biologist, Dr. BetrĂ¼ger. There are lots of flashbacks and narration, but all in all the storytelling tightly mounts the tension, even employing giant spider legs at times.

Despite the perfectly hokey effects (provided by Ruth Engel-McEntire), this cast plays the show with high stakes. Better effects would actually work against the magic of the evening. The unabashed theatrical tricks leave the audience more susceptible to the intensity of the acting. Which is made possible by the efficacy of the scenarios dreamt up by the writers and the capable cast’s dedication. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Tackett and Pyke’s chemistry was well established in their self-produced, self-written one-acts last year. And then, of course, Witkowicz has his loser-trying-to-rise-above-his-limits type of character well honed. And, Holotik, who doubles as the girlfriend to Crossbow Joan, has proven adept at creating chemistry on area stages. Taken all together it should come as no surprise how easily this evening appears.

With a few tweaks this fun script could make regional rounds, but the real success would depend on the people involved. That is unless, of course, the creators could bottle the essence of the cast. It’s not as strange as it sounds.

They are Audacity Theatre…LAB!

Cue lightning.

Cue thunder.

Original post... HERE

Jan 24, 2016

Audacity Theatre Lab in DallasNews.com

A magnificent seven: a look at small theaters with big ideas

Nancy Churnin | DallasNews.com | January 24, 2016

Kasey Tackett and Miller Pyke in NIGHT OF THE TARANTUBEARS
Small theater companies can have big ideas.
While some have theater homes and annual seasons, others pop up with individual shows in unexpected places, making it a challenge to keep up with their work. Ochre House Theater, MBS Productions and Rover Dramawerks have long histories of producing original work. Theatre Rapscallions and Proper Hijinx are new and led by ambitious young talent.
Some, like Noelle Chesney, founder and artistic director of the new Brick Road Theatre, aspire to move from non-Equity to professional musical theater productions. Others, like Brad McEntire, founder and artistic director of the established Audacity Theatre Lab, take pride in keeping a company small.
“I am an advocate for small, indie theater,” McEntire says. “I believe it can be done with high quality and at low cost. It is not necessarily a stepping stone to bigger endeavors. The goal actually is the small, flexible and independent.”
Still, being small can make it a challenge to get the word out. The lean annual operating budget of $15,000 for Brick Road Theatre, compared with the $12 million budget for 2016 at the Dallas Theater Center, doesn’t leave room to hire staff. That’s why you’re likely to be exchanging emails with founders when they have time between their day jobs. In the case of Shakespeare in a Bar, founded by Dylan Key, Katherine Bourne and Alia Tavakolian in 2014 to present barely rehearsed productions of Shakespeare in local bars and breweries, you’re asked to follow updates about new shows on its Facebook page.
These companies can’t count on anything, least of all the support of a subscription audience, yet they keep producing because they’re passionate about what they do. Here’s a look at some of those players and their current plans.
Audacity Theatre Lab. Founded as Audacity Productions in 1999, it dissolved in 2006 and re-formed as Audacity Theatre Lab in 2008. The company presents the world premiere of Night of the Tarantubears, a horror-comedy about genetic mutations written by Audacity founder Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez, at the Margo Jones Theatre at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park. Audacity is usually at the Margo Jones, but it also pops up at Bath House Cultural Center, WaterTower Theatre, Teatro Dallas, the Ochre House, Starbucks and in apartment building lobbies.
Original post... HERE

Jan 10, 2016

How Two Childhood Friends Turned a Bar Joke into a Stage Play

Childhood buddies Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez

“As ideas hatched in a bar go, this one wasn’t horrible,” says Dallas-based playwright Brad McEntire

He is referring to the concept of tarantubears – half spider, half bear monsters – that take center stage in his and Jeff Hernandez’s new play Night of the Tarantubears.

McEntire recalls going out for drinks after his childhood friend Jeff Hernandez came to see him perform his show Dinosaur and Robot Stop a Train at the Festival of Independent Theatres in 2013.

"Hernandez came up with the idea." McEntire says "It is very much the kind of joke that forms over beers when you are on your third round."

"Usually those in-the-moment jokes just fade away, but in this instance, Brad threw out the suggestion that we make it a play," Hernandez adds, "So, I said, okay. So, we did."

Hernandez and McEntire have been collaborating on projects since they met in the fourth grade. They found out they lived on the same street and ended up walking home from elementary school together most afternoons.

Throughout their school days they stayed pretty close.

“We use to walk over to the outdoor court at the local junior high and play basketball in the evenings. We’d just joke around and come up with schemes the whole time,” says McEntire. “We would dream up movies we would make, comic books we would someday draw.”

Hernandez attended Southern Methodist University after high school and earned a degree in art while McEntire headed off to the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. He got a degree in theatre and from there to began a decade of wandering. He lived in London, New York, and eventually Hong Kong before coming back to the Dallas area.

Hernandez and McEntire picked up the creative scheming right where they left off.

They wrote, directed and performed children’s theatre together at Plano Children’s Theatre and co-wrote a one-act called Pens And Strings back in 2009. It played as part of Austin’s FronteraFest.

Another inebriated conversation at a bar back in 2012 led them to start a podcast together. They ended up calling it Bike Soccer Jamboree, after a game they use to play on the street where they grew up.

Night of the Tarantubears follows the rabbit hole of a rather bizarre “what if?”

A genetic experiment surfaces as a seemingly harmless viral internet sensation. Part bear, part spider hybrids are the latest trend. But what happens when our passing fascinations grow and things begin to go horribly horribly wrong? Five survivors hole up in an abandoned theatre as the city is overrun by genetic monstrosities.

“Hernandez is way more into social media than I currently am.” McEntire says. “I love the internet, but I view it more as a tool. He uses it more as entertainment. He gives me a hard time about geeking out over things like theatre history and playwriting. I rib him constantly about his affinity for Twitter and YouTube. This play kind of embraces both of our obsessions.”

The two drew on their overlapping interests of genre comedies, pop culture references and internet sensations.

Though Jeff Hernandez and Brad McEntire co-wrote the piece and McEntire directs, they both quickly point out how fortunate they feel to have an excellent team around them for the production.

“I’m working with a group of actors I’ve wanted to collaborate with for years.” McEntire says. “All good sports. They have been great about keying into the weird little world Jeff and I have created.”

The cast includes  Miller Pyke, Whitney Holotik, Dani Martin, Kasey Tackett and Brian Witkowicz.

McEntire’s wife, Ruth, is creating the “tarantubear” effects for the production.

“The rehearsals have been a blast,” McEntire says, then adds, “It is nice to be working with friends.”

Produced by Audacity Theatre Lab, Night of the Tarantubears opens at Margo Jones Theatre January 21, 2015 at 7:30 PM. Plays January 21 – 31, Tuesday thru Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 5:00 PM. Tickets $15 and available at the door or online. Information/ reservations at: (214) 888-6650 or via email at: audacitytheatrelab@yahoo.com . The Margo Jones Theatre is located within the Magnolia Lounge, Fair Park, 1121 First Ave., Dallas, TX 75210. For more information visit: www.AudacityTheatreLab.com

Jan 8, 2016

The Tarantubears are coming...

A New Horror-Comedy by
Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez
Directed by Brad McEntire 

A genetic experiment surfaces as a seemingly harmless viral internet sensation. Part bear, part spider hybrids are the latest trend. But what happens when our passing fascinations grow and things begin to go horribly horribly wrong. Five survivors hole up in an abandoned theatre, while the city is over-run by genetic monstrosities. Who will survive the night? 

Featuring Miller Pyke, Dani Martin, Whitney Holotik, Brian Witkowicz and Kasey Tackett 

Playing January 21-31, 2016 
 at the Margo Jones Theatre in historic Fair Park 1121 First Ave., Dallas, TX 75210

Online tickets... HERE 
For more information visit... HERE

Jan 3, 2016

New Year’s is like a witches’ sabbath for us list makers. New Year’s is both absolution and excuse to dream. On New Year’s Day, we throw out our past failures like shards of broken champagne bottles. We wipe off our old faces like tired lipstick. 
New Year’s Day has the purity of hotel sheets. Its a fresh page in a notebook, waiting to be besmirched by plans.