Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pics from SEX DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES

Brandon Potter wrapped up his solo show SEX, DEATH NAD LIGHT SWITCHES this past Sunday at the Margo Jones Theatre in Dallas' historic Fair Park. Here's some pics...







Friday, November 14, 2014

SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES


Brandon Potter's new solo show about his coming-of-age despite hilarious and horrible early childhood tramas is playing November 12-16, 2014 at the Margo Jones Theatre. Brandon is being hosted by Audacity Theatre Lab.

Info... HERE.

Brandon Potter performing SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Q-and-A with Brandon Potter

Brandon Potter
Nov. 12-16, 2014 Brandon Potter will present his one-man show SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, Dallas TX. Audacity is hosting his first foray into original solo performance, so we decided to sit down for a quick Q-and-A. Here's what Brandon had to say... 

Q: What gave you the idea to do this show? 
A: Monologue work has always been of interest to me. It is a fundamental building block of drama. It's everywhere from the first Greeks, to the most famous Shakespearean speeches, to stand-up comics, and of course to the monologue greats that we know today like Spalding Gray and Mike Daisy. So I've had a hankering to do solo work for years. I've done several written solo pieces by Eno, Beckett, and Rivera. It was only a matter of time before I started to write my own. This particular piece came as a result of a solo class I took with Rhonda Blair at SMU. 

The process was exploratory. Mainly, we free wrote for hours at a time and looked for themes that presented themselves. Sex, Death, and Light Switches surfaced from those hours of writing and presenting what we had written. I first performed it at grad school to friends and colleagues. I can't help but have the feeling that the gaps in my writing were filled in by an audience who knows me and wanted me to succeed. The goal of this performance is to get a feel for how people who don't know me may receive the work, and heck, how I perform for an audience that isn't full of folks I know on a first name basis. It is my hope that the fear and excitement of a new audience doesn't prevent me from being honest. 

Q: What special challenges do you see doing a solo show that are different than ensemble work? 
A: I think on the surface there a ton of differences between doing solo work and ensemble work. A short solo show demands as much or more, from a text perspective, than someone playing a lead in an ensemble show. For example, St. Nicholas by Conor McPherson has a the performer memorizing far more lines than the leads in Richard III and Julius Caesar combined. There are also very few breaks in a solo show. Aside from the mechanical demands of line memorization, this can become taxing psychologically. These kinds of differences are pretty clear, even to folks who aren't practitioners. If you look a little closer though, you see there are a ton of similarities. 

 For example, in ensemble work given circumstances, objective, and action set up a framework, and listening to your partner guides you. The same is true for solo work. If we look any deeper however things start to get real hairy for a performer. Who is your partner in a solo piece is the prime question in my opinion. Your answer can change everything. Is your partner really the audience in front of you, or is it some imagined audience of judges, talk show hosts or best friends? What are the given circumstances? Are you in a theater, or by the Syringa tree? Both? These things consume me. It can be frustrating or enlightening; but it's almost always thrilling. It thrills me as a performer, and as an audience member. Something else that occurs to me: In ensemble work there is a common language learned in the rehearsal process that builds trust, so you can let go in performance and truly exist in the moment knowing that your partner will too. In solo work, you embody the story and build the trust at the same time, which is Herculean if you ask me. 

Q: Any particular influences on you as an artist? 
A: I'm influenced by whatever I see around me. All of the folks I mentioned in the above answers, but also Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and Lord Buckley. Oh, and Shakespeare Shakespeare Shakespeare. I know that's a cliched theater person answer, but dang he's good. I'm influenced by my friends, my wife, my family. Whatever makes them laugh I try to take to a stage. I pilfer my personal life. 

For information about the show head... HERE.



Monday, October 27, 2014

SEX DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES by Brandon Potter

Brandon Potter
Hosted by Audacity Theatre Lab, Dallas actor Brandon Potter presents his one-person show SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES November 12-16, 2014 at the Margo Jones Theatre at the Magnolia Lounge (Margo Jones Building), Fair Park, 1121 First Ave., Dallas, TX 75210.

In SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES Brandon traces his own coming-of-age through a series of life changing moments starting with seeing himself as a young boy dead in a walk-in mortuary freezer. Things just get weirder from there. This will be the World Premiere of this darkly comic piece of storytelling and Mr. Potter’s debut in a solo performance of his own devising.

Brandon Potter has been heard internationally in cartoons, video games, and commercials. After graduating from Southern Methodist University with a Masters degree in Acting (also where he began developing SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES), he was recently named the newest member of the Diane and Hal Brierley Resident Acting Company at Dallas Theater Center. He will appear in several shows this 2014-2015 season.

SEX, DEATH AND LIGHT SWITCHES plays at the Margo Jones Theatre November 12-16, 2014. Playing November 12 at 8:00 PM, November 13 at 9:00 PM, November 14 at 8 PM, November 15 at 8:00 PM and 10:00 PM and November 16 at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $12 and will be available at the door. 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 or call (214) 888-6650.





Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pics from the Audacity Solo Salon

Nice turnout of about a dozen audience members. The performers read some excerpts with real potential. Next Solo Salon on December 8, 2014.

Steven Young, Beth Bontley and Van Quattro

Steve Young reading his piece The Ratboy of Soulard

Beth Bontley reading her piece One Woman Speaks for the Women Who Carried the Word
Van Quattro reads Standing Eight Count



Monday, August 25, 2014

Dallas Observer covers Audacity Solo Salon


Audacity Solo Salon Offers Early Glimpses
at Three Solo Stage Works 
Dallas Observer | By Danielle Georgiou | August 25 2014

Van Quartto, Steven Young and Beth Bontley will present works-in-progress
at the Audacity Solo Salon

In May, Brad McEntire and Audacity Theatre Lab brought eight artists and eight solo shows to town and stacked them all together inside the Margo Jones Theatre. For the first festival of its kind here, Dallas Solo Fest went well. So well, in fact, that McEntire has devised a quarterly workshop event, the Audacity Solo Salon, to foster an environment that provides ongoing support for Dallas solo performers. 

With the Solo Salon, audiences and artists are given a chance to see solo acts present their works-in-progress, providing a front-row seat to the development of the pieces. Things could go terribly wrong, actors could fall flat on their asses or things could go terribly right and you have the chance to catch a beautiful moment in creative history. 

"This will be a way for solo artists to rehearse, experiment and develop their work in front of supportive audiences. The Audacity Solo Salon artists have the opportunity to perform and try out new work in a safe and informal setting," McEntire says. "It is my hope that it will serve as a gathering place so solo artists and their audiences can meet and inspire each other, maybe cultivating a collaborative network of solo performers, playwrights, directors and so on." 

The first performers featured are Van Quattro, Steve Young and ElizaBeth Bontley. 

Van Quattro's Standing Eight Count finds a young broken-hearted man sorting out how to salvage his life. 

Quattro was born and raised in Los Angeles, and during his time there he appeared in over 20 stage productions and television shows including Millennium, Chicago Hope, Pickett Fences and General Hospital, and films Fight Club and End of Days. But Texas has him now. He has worked at Casa MaƱana, the Dallas Theater Center (as Boo in To Kill A Mockingbird), Theatre Three (as Arthur in Superior Donuts), and he was recently in Second Thought Theater's A Behanding in Spokane, Water Tower Theater's Grapes of Wrath and Theater Arlington's Of Mice and Men

In The Rat Boy of Soulard by Steven Young, we are taken back to the 1960s as 6-year-old, sun burnt, bald headed, short-trousered, Mickey-Mouse-ear-wearing Stevie Verbal and his mother struggle to handle her alcoholism. ("Soulard" is the French word for a drunkard). 

Young is a playwright, actor, director and theatre educator, who has worked all over the United States and England, and was an alternate for the New York Drama League director's fellowship. He has appeared in over 40 Shakespearian roles and won the Shakespeare Quarterly's Justin Shaltz Award for best supporting actor for his portrayal of Falstaff in Henry IV part 2 at the Illinois Shakespeare Festival. Locally, he recently appeared in the one-man show The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at Amphibian. He is a drama faculty member at Texas Woman's University. 

One Woman Speaks for the Women Who Carried the Word, finds ElizaBeth Bontley taking on Charlotte Delbo's Who Will Carry the Word. Delbo was a member of the French Resistance who survived a concentration camp in WWII. The women with her chose to help each other survive as long as they could, so that one of them could return and carry the words and stories of all of them imprisoned there. Who Will Carry the Word is the result of those efforts, and Bontley's take puts those words into action. 

Bontley is an actress, director, and coach. She has produced and staged many of her original works, and in 2013, her work Acet-o-philous or Vinegar Love was part of New York's United Solo Festival. She has taught at Texas Christian University, Tarrant County Community College, Kids Who Dare and Dallas Children's Theater. Currently, she teaches at S.T.A.G.E. and with the Dallas Summer Musicals Academy. 

"If the need is there, my aim is to present these salons throughout the year, perhaps on a quarterly basis, as a fun way to create a community, share work, promote future shows, learn from one another and make new friends," McEntire says. 

The salon takes place at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Margo Jones Theatre, 1121 First Ave. It's free (though a pay-what-you-can donation is suggested). The Margo Jones Theatre is inside the Magnolia Lounge at Fair Park.

Original article... HERE


Monday, August 18, 2014

Teaser... NIGHT OF THE TARANTU-BEARS


Oh, it is coming...

From the twisted minds of writers Brad McEntire and Jeff Hernandez comes a comedy horror World Premiere...
NIGHT OF THE TARANTU-BEARS
Directed by ATL Artistic Director Brad McEntire

A long-forgotten Nazi experiement resurfaces as a seemingly harmless viral internet sensation. Then things go horribly horribly wrong. Five survivors hole up in an abandoned theatre, attacked by genetic monstrocities. Who will survive the night?

Tickets go on sale October 14, 2014... check back for details...

Playing November 5 - 16, 2014
at the Margo Jones Theatre in historic Fair Park
1121 First Ave., Dallas, TX 75210  [map here]


More information coming soon!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Goodbye Veronic Russell

Veronica Russell performing her show A DIFFERENT WOMAN
at the 2014 Dallas Solo Fest.

Veronica Russell (1970-2014)

This breaks our heart. Solo performer and costumer Veronica Russell passed on this week after a short illness. She was 44.

Veronica performed at the Dallas Solo Fest last May. She was part of the tribe. She will be remembered with thoughts of love and respect.

For a wonderful write-up about her vist... HERE.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Audacity Solo Salon - August 25th


Audacity Theatre Lab is pleased to present what we hope will be a quarterly workshop event... the Audacity Solo Salon.

In an effort to make the Dallas Solo Fest an ongoing resource of support for the Dallas solo performance community, the ASS is a chance to see solo performers present works-in-progress as they go about developing a new piece.

This first one featuring Van Quattro, Steve Young and Beth Bontley.

Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park, 1121 First Avenue, Dallas TX.
Monday, August 25th. Starting at 7:30 pm
Free! (suggested donation encouraged)




Monday, July 14, 2014

6th Dallas Big Sexy Weekend of Improv


Audacity teamed up with the Alternative Comedy Theatre this past weekend to present the 6th Dallas Big Sexy Weekend of Improv.

Here are some pics...
Fun Grip Improv

Your Dad's Friends
The Big Sexy tote bag
And here's some press links...
Record Collections and Flying Pigs (TheaterJones.com)
Improv Within Improv (TheaterJones.com)
Big Sexy Returns! (TheaterJones.com)


A good time was had by all!

34th Best Theatre in Town!

Hey, Audacity Theatre Lab was "voted" 34th Best Theatre Group of 2014 in North Texas on A List Dallas!

And we didn't even know about it until just now. Guess they found us via the website. Anyway, thanks for the nomination A List Dallas.

Number 34, people! Huzzah!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Dallas Solo Fest press list


There was entirely too much press from the Dallas Solo Fest to post all articles, reviews, profiles and such here on the ATL blog... Instead, finf below a comprohensive list of hyperlinks to all the press associated with the 2014 Dallas Solo Fest. It seems to have made an impact.

A Solo Debriefing [ TheaterJones.com | by Brad McEntire | June 6, 2014 ]
Review: A Different WomanTheaterJones.com | by Amy Martin | May 24, 2014 ]
Review: Innocent When You Dream [ TheaterJones.com | by Kris Noteboom | May 24, 2014]
Review: Butt Kapinski [ TheaterJones.com | by Kris Noteboom | May 23, 2014 ]
Dallas Solo Fest Profile: Vernica Russell [ TheaterJones.com | May 21, 2014 ]
John Michael's Crossing Your I's is a Quirky Study in Dementia [ TheExaminer.com | by Christopher Soden | May 21, 2014]
Dallas Solo Fest Profile: Deanna Fleysher [ TheaterJones.com | May 16 ]
Dallas Solo Fest Profile: Zeb L. West [ TheaterJones.com | May 15 ]
Review: Beast of Festive Skin [ TheaterJones.com | by Kris Noteboom | May 18, 2014 ]
Review: Eating My Garbage [TheaterJones.com | by Amy Martin | May 18, 2014]
Review: Crossing Your I's [TheaterJones.com | by Kris Noteboom | May 18, 2014]
Review: Bouncing Ugly  [TheaterJones.com | by Amy Martin | May 17, 2014
Review: Sweater Curse [TheaterJones.com | by Amy Martin | May 17, 2014 ]
Dallas Solo Fest Opening Night Overflows with Heartfelt Stories and Poop Jokes [Dallas Observer | by Lauren Smart | May 16, 2014]
Promising and Provoking Fare From Local Artists at Solo Fest [DallasNews.com | by Nancy Churnin | May 16, 2014]
Dallas Solo Fest Profile: Alexandra Tatarsky [TheaterJones.com | May 15, 2014]
Number One, Baby [TheaterJones.com | May 15, 2014]
Inaugural Dallas Solo Fest Offers Laughs with Eight Shows [Dallas Observer | by Danielle Georgiou | May 14, 2014]
Dallas Solo Fest Profile: David Mogolov [TheaterJones.com | May 14, 2014]
Dallas Solo Fest Offers Diverse Workshops [TheaterJones.com | May 14, 2014]
First Ever Dallas Solo Fest [thatdavidhopkins.com | by David Hopkins | May 10, 2014]
Zeb L. West at the Dallas Solo Fest: An Interview with Lauren Moore [Stage Directions Blog | by Lauren Moore | May 9, 2014]
Oh, Grow Up: At 25, Monologuist John Michael Discovered Himself by Serving Old Folks [Dallas Voice | by Arnold Wayne Jones | May 9, 2014]
One At a Time: 2014 Dallas Solo Fest in Fair Park [DallasNews.com | by Nancy Churnin | May 8, 2014]
Dallas Solo Fest Brings Home the Talent: Danny O'Connor [Stage Directions Blog | by Jeff Hernandez | May 1, 2014]
Q-and-A with Alexandra Tatarsky [TheSoloPerformer.com | April 16, 2014]
Q-and-A with David Mogolov [TheSoloPerformer.com | April 7, 2014]
All For One: Dallas Solo Fest 2014 Will Feature 8 Solo Shows [DallasNews.com | by Nancy Churnin | April 1, 2014]
Dallas Solo Fest Lineup Announced [TheaterJones.com | by Mark Lowry | March 30, 2014]
Q-and-A with Elaine Liner [TheSoloPerformer.com | March 19, 2014]
First Ever Dallas Solo Fest Coming Soon  [Art and Seek | By Danielle Georgiou | March 18, 2014]
Q-and-A with Danny O'Connor [TheSoloPerformer.com | March 17, 2014]
Q-and-A with Deanna Fleysher [The SoloPerformer.com | February 21, 2014]




Dallas Solo Fest Debriefing in TheaterJones



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.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

DSF responses from performers

Brad here. I 've been concerned that the out-of-town performers coming in for the Dallas Solo Fest haven't had really big crowds. I didn't want anyone to leave with a bad taste in their mouths about the Fest or Dallas. Luckily, even if attendance has been low there have been other trade-offs (great press, good vibes, successful workshops, etc.) to help make it a positive experience for everyone. Wonderfully, some of the performers have taken the first ever DSF in stride and rolled with it. Here are two of my favorite responses from performers...

"I started my show a little down, as I only had an audience of 5. (10:30 time slot for an hour-and-a-half dramatic show, so...) And then they were a PIN-DROP quiet audience the whole way through. (C'mon! Some of this shit is comedy gold! PLEEEEEASE? But they were all holding hard eye contact, and barely shifted in their seats the entire time. Then they spontaneously made a 10 minute Q and A happen at the end, which has never happened before, and one of the gentlemen was a producer who says he wants to book me for a weekend of performances elsewhere in Texas next spring, with real money and travel costs and everything. So I guess you just never know.... "
~ Veronica Russell, A DIFFERENT WOMAN 

"Sometimes I get slutty and demanding and wanting a hundred people at every show I do. But then I have an amazing show, really, a beautiful wonderful experience where everyone is having a blast, with 8 people in the room. That feeling of soul-freeing, spontaneous community is why we do what we do. Numbers do not mean shit in the long run."
~ Deanna Fleysher, BUTT KAPINSKI

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dallas Observer: Opening Night at the Dallas Solo Fest

Danny O'Connor in Bouncing Ugly

Dallas Solo Fest's Opening Night Overflows with Heartfelt Stories and Poop Jokes

Dallas Observer | Lauren Smart | May 16, 2014

Have you ever noticed how funny drunk people are? Danny O'Connor has. In fact, he's turned it into an entire solo show. Bouncing Ugly chronicles his time as a bouncer at New York City's infamous club Coyote Ugly. His stories about the bar patron's revelry and drunkenness elicited ews, aws, and guffaws from Thursday night's audience. 

Opening night of the first-ever Dallas Solo Fest was the perfect combination of heartfelt storytelling and inappropriate humor. The 10-day fest kicked off with our own Elaine Liner's Sweater Curse, which we reviewed in its last iteration. Her sweet yarn about love and loss sets the bar high for the festival, demonstrating how a solo show can be used to create a character and share a universal story. 

This ability to connect through similarities, rather than differences, is the subtle distinction between a one-man show and stand-up comedy. While comics tend to demolish the barriers we put between one another by mocking everyone, one-man shows unite us through the power of storytelling. And there's certainly a sense of community at the Dallas Solo Fest, which received funding from a Kickstarter campaign. 

Bouncing Ugly followed Sweater Curse for opening night, adding a sardonic edge to the night. O'Connor's story starts during his time as a theater student at the one of the best drama schools in the country, following him to New York City where he stared in an Off-Broadway show across Broadway from Daniel Radcliffe's performance in Equus (you know, the sexy psychological thriller about horses). O'Connor is at once goofy and charming, only to surprise with grotesque aspects of humanity (so many stories about bodily functions) and hardening truths about love. His immediate affability is only tripled when he alternates his story of heartbreak with a dance break to Tom Jones' "Sex Bomb." 

The late-night show of the festival's first night is John Michael's Crossing Your I's. This is John Michael's fifth solo performance piece, all of which he's performed locally to an ever-widening group of dedicated fans. He uses real-life tales to build truths, from his struggle to build an identity in a social media-soaked world to trials working as a gay man at an Oklahoma McDonald's. And with each show critics have sung praises of potential, which it seems he is finally reaching in Crossing Your I's

By far his most mature show to date, John Michael chronicles his time working at a nursing home that specializes in the care of elderly with dementia. He's leashed his frantic energy into a wide-eyed, brutally honest tale of working with people who, as he puts it are "losing their shit" (sometimes literally). And what could easily degenerate into a critique of the hospice system, instead explores the fear of mortality and compassion for those who've traveled the world before us. 

If the first evening of Dallas Solo Fest is any indication of the nine days to follow, this city is in for a treat. Thursday was a charming, hilarious, poignant evening of theater. Read about all eight shows in Danielle Georgiou's preview and grab tickets at dallassolofest.com. There are two more chances to see Crossing Your I's, Bouncing Ugly and Sweater Curse as well.


Original article HERE


DallasNews.com: 'Promising and Provoking Fare From Local Artists at Solo Fest'

                                                                        [credit: Ron Heflin for DallasNews.com]
John Michael, Elaine Liner and Danny O'Conner are the local artists
in the inaugural Dallas Solo Fest by Audacity Theatre Lab

Promising and Provoking Fare From Local Artists at Dalla Solo Fest

DallasNews.com | Nancy Churnin | May 16, 2014

Her picture hangs proudly in the lobby near the Margo Jones Theatre that bears her name. Whether you believe in ghosts or think someone’s spirit lives on as a result of efforts by the living, it’s hard not to feel the memory of Dallas’ theater pioneer permeating the Magnolia Lounge in a leafy oasis of Fair Park. 

Audacity Theatre Lab has launched its first Dallas Solo Fest where Jones encouraged fresh voices, including Tennessee Williams, in 1947. Whether greatness emerges from these eight artists remains to be seen, but Thursday’s three Dallas performers proved promising and provoking. 

You don’t have to be a knitter to fall under the spell of Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love by Elaine Liner. Best known as the theater critic for the Dallas Observer, Liner powers her funny, poignant and engaging 70-minute love story with knitting references from history and literature. She starts with Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, pulls in the Fates weaving human destiny and gives Hamlet’s speech a redo: “To knit or not to knit, that is the question.” 

Sweater Curse is the tale of a woman who yearns for love. Each boyfriend leaves her before she finishes the sweater she has begun to knit for him — that’s the sweater curse. As Liner sits on a yarn-bombed chair onstage, her needles clacking away, she makes a case for how the compulsion to knit is like the desire to bring two lives together as one. 

Using knitting terms, she compares “casting on,” the beginning of a new project, to a new relationship, noting that one must not be too lax or too tight. She talks of knowing when to unravel or “tink” — knit spelled backward — when you’ve made a mistake. 

Liner took her show to last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland and, after additional polishing, plans to perform it there again this year. I was impressed with Sweater Curse when Our Productions Theatre Co. presented it at the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville in December. I’m more impressed now. 

Danny O’Connor’s Bouncing Ugly enthralls with colorfully told tales of his days as a bouncer at the Coyote Ugly Saloon in New York City. O’Connor is a terrific storyteller who shows you how tough he is, then reveals his vulnerability by sharing his dream of being a famous actor. He brings up painful questions: What do you do when your dreams don’t come true? What do you do when the person you love gives you an ultimatum of your dreams or her? Can and should dreams change over time? These are rich ideas worth further exploration; one wonders how many of the people he bounced struggled with these issues. 

John Michael’s Crossing Your I’s grabs you immediately as he enters on a bicycle arguing with unseen motorists. He takes you on a journey of an angry young man who learns unexpected lessons from dementia patients. He doesn’t like lying, but learns how lies can get a particular patient to eat. He doesn’t want to tell an adult whom he’s helping with a diaper that he loves him. But after telling the patient that, he starts to feel it. 

This world-premiere show is rough around the edges. Michael introduces elements that he needs to clarify, but it’s a thoughtful show with smart visual details, including vivid masks by Ely Sellers used to suggest patients. It’s worthy of further development. 

Plan your life Continues through May 25, with Bouncing Ugly (55 mins.) Saturday and Sunday; Crossing Your I’s (40 mins.) Friday and Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love (65 mins.) Sunday and May 25 at the Margo Jones Theatre in the Magnolia Lounge at Fair Park, 1121 First Ave., Dallas. $12 per show, $55 pass for all shows. 214-888-6650. dallassolofest.com.


Original post HERE

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dallas Observer: Dallas Solo Fest preview

Deanna Fleysher in Butt Kapinski

Inaugural Dallas Solo Fest promises Laughs with Eight Shows

Dallas Observer | Danielle Georgiou | May 14, 2014

Are you ready for some kick-ass theatre? Brad McEntire is ready to give it to you, if you think you can handle it. Opening Thursday and running until May 25, the Dallas Solo Fest, under McEntire's helm, is packed full of entertainment to take you out of your weekend rut. 

With an aim to expose Dallas audiences to a variety of solo performances, the Fest is actually helping to establish a new turn of phrase. We can say bye-bye to the old "one-man show" routine. There are no gender specifications here. It's just about the solo act, now. From men, women, and a few sweaters. Coming together at the Margo Jones Theatre inside the Magnolia Lounge inside Fair Park (it's like one of those Russian stacking dolls). 

Forgive me for a second while I give a brief geography lesson: It can be a bit difficult to locate the Magnolia Lounge. If you're lost in Fair Park, just look for the balcony draped with twinkling colorful lights. That's the Magnolia Lounge, and thus, the Margo Jones Theatre (also, it's across from the Old Mill Inn). 

Now, back to the single, sole, solitary matter at hand: The Dallas Solo Fest. In its inaugural year, McEntire is reaching high. Not only has he curated 3 local artists for the two-week run--crowd favorite John Michael (Crossing Your I's), up-and-coming comedian Danny O'Conner (Bouncing Ugly), and our own Elaine Liner (Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love)--he has reached out to the national community inviting five artists to come in and spend the first part of their summer in Dallas. Those five artists are: Deanna Fleysher (Butt Kapinski), Veronica Russell (A Different Woman), Zeb. L. West (Innocent When You Dream), David Mogolov (Eating My Garbage), and Alexandra Tatasky (Beast of Festive Skin). Collectively, these performers represent a wide variety of solo performance styles from storytelling, puppetry, and improvisational clown pieces, to pieces that defy easy explanation. 

"I'm hugely excited about the fest," says McEntire. "As it has moved closer and closer and I have gotten to know the performers more and more and I have grown more excited about the shows...particularly the weirder ones from further afield." 

He's right, there are definitely some weird ones in the bunch. Shows that you don't usually get to see in Dallas. I asked McEntire to give me a quick and dirty lowdown on each weekend, and what he was particularly excited about for each offering. 

For the first weekend, his selections are Tatarsky's Beast of Festive Skin and Mogolov's Eating My Garbage

Tatarksy is from New York and had a spat of Internet infamy last year as Andy Kaufman's alleged daughter. She has a background in Russian Literature and a love of Absurdism. With her show, she takes us to an open mic night in Hell. 

"She's got all these sorts of failed performers, people who had dreamt big and been forgotten, you know, people who desperately wanted to be something other than they were. They all kind of meet up in the afterlife and are forced to reinvent themselves anew through performance. She seems really interested in the idea of what happens when you have no other option but to create," says McEntire. 

It sounds like this show is going to spur those pesky Existential questions, like, "What is life?" "What is pain?" "Am I dead?" "Are you living?" "What happens when you have to face your demons?" Well, luckily, Tatarsky is in the hot seat this time, so she can answer those questions.  
Another reason to catch this show: One of her characters is a talking mound of dirt. Beckett is both laughing and crying from his grave right now. 

Imagine if Mike Daisey and Spalding Grey had a baby...now that your brain has quietly exploded, that baby would be Mogolov. A Boston-based monologist, his work is inherently autobiographical and confessional. He always directly addresses the audience and keeps his stage bare, but of a few scenic elements such as a chair and a desk. Yet, unlike Daisey's bombastic anger or Gray's rambling introspection, Mogolov has a slightly bent sensibility that blends naive optimism and hardened cynicism. His work is personal, layered, hyper intelligent and relentlessly hilarious. Actually, he reminds McEntire of George Carlin. Winner! 

David Mogolov in Eating My Garbage at the 2014 Dallas Solo Fest

"Eating My Garbage explores the fragmented state of the Union. It kicks off when David receives a phone call from a political pollster who sounds like Laura Linney," McEntire explains. "She asks him, 'Do you believe that the nation is going in the right direction or that we've gotten off on the wrong track?'" 

With President Obama is in the midst of his second term, this piece couldn't be more apropos. Then, in the second weekend, the ladies are taking center stage, with Fleysher's Butt Kapinski and Russell's A Different Woman. 

"Fleysher is coming in from Los Angeles and overlaps a lot of the worlds I dabble in: improvisation, clowning, and solo work. Her title character is this crazy detective that is a kind of a cross between Elmer Fudd and Sam Spade," says McEntire. "She incorporates the audience in this manic film noir mystery. If I wasn't producing the fest, this might be the show I'd make sure I didn't miss as an audience member." 

Russell, who is from New Orleans, takes us back to Texas, with her obsession with Gertrude Beasley, a Texas woman from the early 1890s who grew up in the harshest poverty to become a world-travelling journalist and feminist. Her life is incredible and mysterious, and Russell takes a chunk of Beasley's childhood and adapts a large part of it from the controversial 1925 banned book Beasley wrote called My First Thirty Years. The piece, A Different Woman, centers on her growing up in Abilene. It is relentlessly haard-hitting, punctuated with these moments of pitch black humor. 

While these are just a selection of what McEntire is hosting, we can't forget about our hometown friends. The local acts are killer, I can attest to that, as I've seen John Michael's previous works and I saw Liner's A Sweater Curse this winter. 

There is also Austin performer Zeb West, whose show Innocent When You Dream has our main man trapped in the belly of a whale. A heartbroken castaway swallowed by a beast is driven mad by the only two books the whale has so kindly gifted him to read--Don Quixote and Moby Dick. He acts out the books using puppets and masks fashioned from flotsam (environmental/green theatre is so hot right now) and sings sea shanties to help set the mood. 

"Just make reservations and come out to the theatre," says McEntire. You had me at weird and sea shanties, sir. 

Single tickets and festival passes are on sale now. Festival passes include one admission to each festival show and are $55. Individual tickets prices for each show are $12. Reservations can be made at the Dallas Solo Fest website or by calling (214) 888-6650. Details about the shows, artists' biographies, the full schedule, and ticket information at: www.DallasSoloFest.com.

Original article HERE