Apr 11, 2024

At the South West Theatre Conference 2024

Swearingen performing The Beast of Hyperborea at SWTC 2024

After presenting The Beast of Hyperborea at TEXFest 2024 back in February, the production by Audacity Theatre Lab was chosen to advance to the South West Theatre Conference (SWTC) in Little Rock, Arkansas in April.

The SWTC is a theatre service organization working to enhance the theatre experience for theatres in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Theatres from those states gathered to present plays that were adjudicated by theatre professionals. It was held April 4-6 at The Studio Theatre in Little Rock (320 W 7th St, Little Rock, AR 72201).

Swearingen and I loaded up The Beast of Hyperborea stuff and headed out to attend. The "conference" was really just a very small gathering of about five theatres with their cast and crews as well as three adjudicators. Despite the bad luck to be the first show to present for the weekend and a couple of technical glitches by the board ops, both lights and sound (again, went first, so we were the show that was used to work out the bugs), The Beast of Hyperborea made a decent showing.

Swearingen was slightly better rehearsed this time around and we took some notes from Victoria (new costume and repainted set pieces), but the show was not quite as dynamic as the performance had been back in February. 

Although we did not "win" in Little Rock as we did in Victoria back in February, Swearingen still garnered an "Outstanding Actor" Award and we received some overwhelmingly positive feedback from the adjudicators. Again, the observations were subjective, but again, there were a few nuggets of wisdom.

Circle Arts Theatre from New Braunfels, TX was unable to bring their production of Feeding the Moonfish, so Baytown Little Theatre was thrown in. They brought their production of The Guys as the other representative company from Texas. They ended up being named "Outstanding Production." It was nice to see actor Lyle Tate again, who again was awarded an acting award alongside Swearingen.

Little Rock had the vibe of an MC Escher artwork (very confusing with lots of road construction). The hotel, out by the airport, charged for their breakfast buffet (usually complimentary) and the building seemed to be designed by someone who had dropped out of architecture school. Plus, we were there the weekend before the eclipse. Lots of RVs and people setting up in the parking lot with telescopes. Little Rock was in the path of the upcoming eclipse. On top of that, and there was a kids pageant in the hotel, so anytime I got on the elevator, I was in it with either an elderly eclipse enthusiast or a little girl slathered with too much make-up being openly berated by her overbearing pageant mom. Between the barely-a-conference and the hotel stay it made for a very weird weekend.

On the plus side, Swearingen and I discovered a great place for beers, open late, that had a wonderful patio for cigars (cigarettes for Swearingen) called the Rail Yard. Great burgers, too.

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Feb 29, 2024

Success at TEXFest 2024

Jeff Swearingen performing The Beast of Hyperborea at TEXFest 2024

Brought back a bunch of plaques

This was taken at the end of the weekend. My tired eyes tell the tale...

Audacity Theatre Lab returned from TEXFest with a collection of nifty awards. I presented my production of The Beast of Hyperborea as well as took adjudication training, took several workshops and even taught several workshops on my own. 

TEXFest is an biannual theatre conference produced by TNT (Theatre Network of Texas). This year it was held in Victoria, TX from February 21 - 25, 2024 at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts in Victoria, TX. The conference featured performances from theatres around Texas, workshops and other events. Two productions from TEXFest 2024 were chosen to advance. The Beast of Hyperborea was one of those productions. It will move on to perform at the Southwest Theatre Conference (SWTC) in Little Rock, Arkansas in April.

Big congrats to the other advancing production Feeding The Moonfish from Circle Arts Theatre in New Braunfels, TX.

And, of course, congratulations to my friend and colleague Jeff Swearingen for bringing The Beast Of Hyperborea to life on stage. I did the directing and rest of the behind-the-scenes stuff and Jeff acted in the piece as he did last summer.

Jeff and I at TEXFest 2024. The Beast of Hyperborea was judged Best Production

Jeff ended up winning an Audience Acclaim Award in Acting, A well-deserved accolade that was voted on by the audiences. He tied for the award with Lyle Tate from the Baytown Little Theatre's production of The Guys. Sidenote: Lyle proved to be a real champ since he let us borrow his black clip-on costume necktie when we discovered - fifteen minutes before curtain - that Jeff had forgotten his own necktie. Much appreciation for Mr. Tate.

ATL also received recognition for being an official participating production in the conference at all. Big thanks to the adjudicators Annette Procunier, David Eck, and Michael Winters for some useful feedback. Truth be told, the feedback was mostly subjective opinions, but did have a gem of value here and there. Specifically, what they had to say about technical things.

Presenting my Crafting to Solo Show workshop, complete with Power Point.

On top of the production, I also taught a workshop on "Crafting a Solo Show" based on my recent book. I taught it twice. One session only had two folks, but the second session had half a dozen. Each morning (not to mention once a week via Zoom for several weeks prior to the conference) I attended extensive adjudication training at TEXFest! 

Swearingen and I had some trouble with the hotel in Victoria and that pulled my attention a bit. We also accidently stumbled into the most pro-Trump BBQ joint on the planet, talked shop and had a chance one evening to catch up with our mutual friend Wes Copeland over rum and cokes.  Needless to say, it was  a busy weekend !

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Jan 22, 2024

The Beast of Hyperborea heads to TEXFest 2024

The Beast of Hyperborea

Featuring Jeff Swearingen
Written and Directed by Brad McEntire

The Beast of Hyperborea
 is an mystifying tale told in the tradition of Victorian adventure fiction. The tale concerns an eccentric group of explorers who set off for on a daring quest to a remote island in search of a legendary monster.

I am pleased that the show has been selected to play at TEXFest 2024

TEXFest is an biannual theatre conference produced by TNT (Theatre Network of Texas). 

TEXFest 2024 will be held in Victoria, TX from February 21 - 25, 2024 at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts in Victoria, TX. The conference features performances from theatres around Texas, workshops and other events. 2 productions from TEXFest 2024 will move on to perform at Southwest Theatre Conference (SWTC).

Friday, February 23 at 4:30 pm

Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts at Victoria College, located at 214 N Main St, Victoria, TX 77901

I will also be teaching a workshop at TEXFest. Details coming soon.

More info... HERE

Jan 16, 2024

Looking Back at 2023

For now over a decade I have been composing a year-in-review here on the website. This look back is mostly to take stock of the past year. 

By the way, for those even mildly curious, here is 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022). 

2023 was the first year in a while where I feel I got back up to a reasonable degree of projects and productivity. The pandemic is enough in the rear-view, my kiddo is now old enough to occupy himself for swaths of time and I got back a degree of excitement that I hadn't had in several years. This coincided with a renewed interest in my health and a return to hitting the road throughout the year. Here's 2023...

Right off the bat, I started the year with an new, ongoing project. I returned to webcomics with The Ongoing Saga of J. Herbin. My last stab at webcomics was Donnie Rocket Toaster-Face, which lasted from 2010 to 2015. I published a small collection of those comics... HERE

J. Herbin was an idea I have been kicking around for years. Heavily inspired by David Lynch's The Angriest Dog in the World and Max Cannon's Red Meat, I decided to go all in and publish a weekly "anti-comic." What I mean by anti-comic is that each 3-panel strip features no movement or physical gags. the protagonist (if you can call J. Herbin that) is passive and unresponsive. All dialogue takes place off-frame by unseen speakers. The reader only gets  a small glimpse of the conversation taking place and there is seldom a punch line in the traditional sense.

click the image to see it larger...

Like DRTF, the habit of coming up with a comic each week and releasing it was been a good exercise throughout 2023. As of this writing, I have completed over a year's worth of these J. Herbin comics. I intend to keep going as long as I find the project interesting and engaging. Read them... HERE.

I also approached a comicbook artist named Paul Milligan. The delightful David Hopkins made introductions. Paul and I are collaborating on adapting my solo show The Beast of Hyperborea into a graphic novel. It took me several months at the start of the year to adapt the play into comicbook script format. Paul has been a great sounding board throughout the process. Progress has been slower than expected due to a number of setbacks, but he and I are still on it. As of this posting Paul has sent me roughs up to page 44 (out of an expected 74 page volume). It was hoot to reimagine this story visually and work with Paul on character concept drawings. More updates as the project proceeds.

In January, I also formatted my children's picture book Petey Gale Goes Up and Beyond into a Kindle ebook version. The paperback version that I created for my kiddo back during the pandemic had been out since the end of 2021. Just trying to make the book a little more accessible and get some more mileage out of the work I have already completed. Grab a copy... HERE.

DaShaun Ellis' I'm Thinking

In February, I directed two student-written ten-minute plays at the college where I work. They were submitted for  an annual presentation called the Festival of New Plays. The plays I directed included Blake Roper's The Friendship Application and DaShaun Ellis' I'm Thinking. They had a student cast and crew and went over nicely. Both playwrights were responsive to feedback to make their scripts more stage-worthy and the process, I felt, was overall really constructive.

In March I created a website dedicated to my playwriting endeavors (as opposed to this Blogger portfolio covering a range of activities). It was a rather expensive investment. I am not sure I will break even on the endeavor of creating the site, registering the domain name and so on, but for the next several years at least, I will appear as a professional playwright. This is part of a larger effort to present myself more professionally. I have spent years improving the quality of my theatre work, but I feel like I am starting at the beginning as far as getting the word out about my work and actually getting productions of my plays (outside me own self-directed projects).

Robert's eternal Goldfish at the 2023 Tyler Texas Fringe

In June I took my solo show Robert's Eternal Goldfish to the Tyler Texas fringe Festival, a small event on the campus of Tyler Junior College. The show went over quite well despite the fact that I presented it in such a bare-bones lights-up/lights-down fashion. This was not just the nature of the fest (not altogether organized), but because it did not offer a stipend or box office cut. My hope was that I might be able to network a bit and meet some new colleagues, perhaps set up future opportunities. Time will tell.

Travel kicked in starting in August. My good friend and colleague Jeff Swearingen used to travel around the country presenting theatre and improv at different venues and festivals. Between 2005 and 2013, in particular. This past summer we picked up where we left off and set off on a few far flung theatre adventures.

Swearingen in The Beast of Hyperborea at the 2023 Omaha Fringe

Our first stop was in Nebraska for the 2023 Omaha Fringe Festival. This rather new fest started during the pandemic and is still getting its feet under it. We took my show The Beast of Hyperborea. I created the show back in 2019 and performed it myself originally. I thought it would be a good fit for Swearingen in the role of the Edward Joseph Reade, the reluctant narrator/accountant of the show. I did all the behind the scenes stuff and directed/worked tech. 

We road tripped out and stayed in a hotel with a nice patio. The show played at the beautiful Benson Theatre and it went well. During the days we saw other shows and the cool evenings, away from the oppressive Texas summer, were filled with long chats over drinks and cigars (well, for me, and cigarettes for Swearingen). The show went well despite low attendance.

Swearingen in The Beast of Hyperborea at the 2023 Elgin Fringe

In September, we headed off again with The Beast of Hyperborea. This time we flew. The festival was the Elgin Eringe and it is one of my favorites. Elgin, Illinois is 35 miles northwest of Chicago. This was my third time in Elgin (previously performing solo with Robert's Eternal Goldfish in 2018 and Cyrano A-Go-Go in 2019) and I appreciate the people there who run it, particularly Erin Rehberg and Tanner Melvin of Side Street Studios. Again, we had great weather, talked shop with some other fringe folks, saw a few shows and presented a kick-ass show. Our venue couldn't have been more different than the large hall we were in the month prior in Omaha. In Elgin we were in an upstairs gallery space. Jeff did the show for folks scattered around him in folding chairs.

Before I left for Elgin, I had started the school year, teaching again. Since before the pandemic I have been stationed off-campus at some high school of another teaching "college level' theatre to "dual credit" high school freshman. I dislike it more and more. I left teaching high schoolers ages ago to teach at the college level. The last several years, however, as numbers of in-person classes even making has diminished, I find myself a college teacher in name only. Stationed at one high school after another to students who went from elementary to high school online, during Covid, I am continually frustrated by both the state of the education system and the collective interest level/intelligence of the students. Phones are part of the problem, but on the whole, they just aren't very good at being students these days. This makes my job harder. I have to dumb the material down bit by bit and make allowances so the majority of the class doesn't fail (i.e. rolling deadlines, ample extra credit, lay-up assignments so they can have grades every six weeks, etc.).  I am hoping 2024 is my last year teaching and I move on to doing something where I am not operating so far below my potential.

Volume of Smoke at TCC-SE

After Elgin I did direct again at the college. This was with proper college students for cast and crew, and fellow faculty in design and technical roles. I directed Clay McLeod Chapman's Volume of Smoke in early October. The epistolary monologue play about a tragic theatre fire in 1811 did not seem, on paper, my usual thing. However, it had an old-school theatricality about it that I enjoyed playing around in (red velvety curtains, wooden platforms, Regency-era costumes, candles, canvas drops, ropes and pulleys and sandbags and so on...). It was a hard rehearsal process with many moving parts, especially coming off the extremely stripped down one-person fringe show. It did revive my affinity for directing. I love that one shows up day after day equipped only with ones ability to observe and focus, the think and make decisions. I feel I am slowly becoming a more elegant director, project by project.

A few weeks after Volume of Smoke at the college, I completed a big project that had been years in the making. For more than half a decade, I have been compiling notes about solo performance to lay down my extremely hard-won knowledge into a book. I wanted to put down a sort of guide or introduction for someone just starting his or her journey into solo performance. I wanted to write the sort of book I wish I had when I started out creating and performing one-person shows over a decade and half ago.

The result was Crafting the Solo Show: A Practical Guide to Creating, Performing and Touring a One-Person Theatre Production. I am immensely proud and relieved to finally have this out in the world. Form followed function as well. As the book is about creating one-person shows, I am pleased that I wrote, edited and formatted the book myself. It was a huge undertaking and really tested my attention to detail. I am sure as time passes I will discover errors here and there, but for now there is a both an ebook as well as a paperback version.

By November I started to dial my creative activities back in order to ease into the holidays with friends and family. I also wound up the semester of teaching by the beginning of December.

Fun Grip Inprov at the Dallas Comedy Club

Throughout the year, Swearingen and I performed a monthly gig at the Dallas Comedy Club. Our long-form improv duo Fun Grip took the stage, usually on a split-bill with another improv group. We were shuffled to different time slots every few months which made maintaining and growing an audience difficult. The improv was fun, though, and was a good chance to play a bit.

I also continued to create both YouTube videos and Cultivated Playwright podcast episodes throughout the year from time to time.

I feel like I was really getting my legs under me and sort of priming myself for bigger and better things ahead. It was fun to have some old-school camaraderie and travel. I am pleased that I continued to add to my growing list of self-published works and that I made some solid pieces of theatre this past year, as a playwright, director, producer and so forth.

I am excited by what 2024 will bring.

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Perhaps you would be interested in adding more excitement and romance, adventure and intrigue to your life. If that's the case, I don't know what to tell you. But I would suggest you subscribe to my newsletter. I mean, who knows? Life is full of surprises. I only send stuff out occasionally, but it is good stuff. Hit the button below...