Saturday, March 27, 2010

VOS: Notes On the Play

About the Play
This historical investigation of a horrific accident and the aftermath it caused appealed to Director Ruth Engel for a variety of reasons, chief amongst them that positive change and enduring perspective can come out of the most terrible of events. Receiving its Regional Premiere in the Southwest, Audacity is pleased to present VOLUME OF SMOKE.

For more information about the event, here's an informative article. And here's another one.

About the Playwright
The NY Times says there's "...a new generation of theater artists reared on a diet of vampires, zombies and charming serial killers. Call this movement the Theater of Blood, after the Vincent Price movie about a Shakespearean actor who kills critics, after torturing them with a hammy monologue. (It still gives me chills.) At the forefront is Clay McLeod Chapman, whose “Pumpkin Pie Show” channels the spirit of H. P. Lovecraft." -- Jason Zinoman, "A Creepy Threesome," NY Times, (10/19/09)

Clay McLeod Chapman is the founder of the Pumpkin Pie Show, a dynamic story-telling caberat well known in New York City. "If Chapman keeps up with the oddball characters, well-crafted stories, and critical plaudits, that Faulkner guy better watch out," the Village Voice’s Alexis Soloski wrote in a review of Clay McLeod Chapman’s Pumpkin Pie Show. Author Tom Robbins said of Chapman’s work, “Like a demonic angel on a skateboard, like a resurrected Artaud on methadrine, like a tattletale psychiatrist turned rodeo clown, Clay McLeod Chapman races back and forth along the serrated edges of everyday American madness, objectively recording each whimper of anguish, each whisper of skewed desire. This is strong stuff, intense stuff, sometimes disturbing stuff, but I think the many who admire Chuck Palahniuk will admire Chapman as well.” Clay McLeod Chapman is the creator of the rigorous storytelling session the Pumpkin Pie Show. In its ten years of existence, the award-winning Pumpkin Pie Show has toured extensively throughout the world – traveling to the Romanian Theatre Festival of Sibiu, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the New York International Fringe Festival, the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, the Edmonton Fringe Festival, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Dublin-based thisisnotashop art space, IGNITE 06 Festival, the Women Center Stage Festival and the Impact Theatre Festival, just to name a few – as well as such various venues as colleges, theatres, and theme parks in and around the country. The Pumpkin Pie Show continues to perform in New York City—including PS 122, the DR2 theatre, the Ohio Theatre, La Mama, the Red Room, the Kraine theatre, UNDER St. Marks Theatre, the CSV Cultural Center, the Zipper theatre, the Belt theatre, Culture Project, Galapagos Art Space, Speigeltent NY, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Brick Theatre, and Coney Island, USA. 

For more information on Clay McLeod Chapman click here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Oscar Contreras and Angela Parsons

Tyson Rinehart

Angela Parsons
Chris Piper and Rhianna Mack with cast

Elizabeth Evans

Friday, March 19, 2010


VOLUME OF SMOKE by Clay McLeod Chapman has opened to good reviews here in Dallas.

Here on TheaterJones

Here on the Dallas Observer

Here on the Dallas Morning News

On December 26th, 1811, the Richmond Theatre burned to the ground. Over 70 people perished, many trampled to death in the chaos. The incident made headlines as far away as Germany and gave rise to the Second Great Awakening.

From one of America's most unique emerging playwrights comes this historical account of grim humor, heart-breaking tragedy and profound heroism.

Plays March 11-27,2010 at the Bath House Cultural Centre.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

HHF at the Columns

Yesterday, March 8th was the DFW Column Awards, celebrating local theatre here in Dallas. Audacity's HELLO HUMAN FEMALE was up for six 2010 Column Awards and took home two. Jeff Swearingen won Best Actor in Dallas (Non-Equity) for his portrayal of Blork and Arianna Movassagh won Best Actress in Dallas (Non-equity) for playing Tamela.

We also put on the "Somewhere Out There" number at the Awards ceremony. We were delighted, too, that HHF was the only "straight" play represented in the evening's entertainment.

Friday, March 5, 2010

CHOP opens

CHOP opened last night for the world to see. It World premiered at Addison Water Tower Theatre's Out of the Loop Fringe Festival. Out of the 10 or 12 folks in the audience on this Thursday opening, two were critics.

Mark Lowry at enjoyed it... kinda.

He pegs it pretty dead-on that it is a solid festival piece. Which is true, I think.

A fellow I've never heard of named David Novinski came out to cover it for D Magazine's new FrontRow reviews/arts coverage section online. He did not really get into the spirit of the piece, but did offer one observation that will prove helpful.

The piece is smart, littered with mythological and scientific references. I had a line or two in before that explained that the character in the show was a temp and had lots of time to fill, so he turned to reading ("I had plenty of time to read. I'm a reader."), but I cut that line last week. It might be a good idea to put it back in for those folks, like Mr. Novinski, who get caught up in overly logical detail points in the story.

I also admire Mr. Novinski's review in that he both embodies and illustrates a very typical attitude among lots of my audience members in Dallas. Some are really adventurous and open, but some bring into the space a stuffy, uptight closedness. Their tastes run very fickle. This isn't malicious or purposeful on their parts, but it happens. They can't really let go and have fun and engage fully. I'm not sure why this is, but maybe it has to do with the wider culture becoming more isolated through personal technology.

Anyway, now that the very first showing ever for an audience has taken place, i can get down to the real work on CHOP. I can learn about the piece through the audiences eyes.Here's to the continuing adventure...

Mark Lowry's review here.

David Novinski's FrontRow review here.

~ Brad

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The story of CHOP

"Brad McEntire"

The Out of the Loop Fringe Festival will be the setting for the World Premiere of CHOP, my twisted little one-man show. This production is important to me for several reasons...

As a local playwright, it is important to me to try to premiere my plays in Texas if at all possible. The piece received a staged reading by Outsider's Inn Collective in Seattle in October of 2008. It was workshopped by NYC's Cry Havoc in March of 2009. This workshop was directed by New York director Andy Merkel and performed by William Jackson Harper (ex-Dallasite, friend, and actor in the Lynne Nottage's Pulitzer Prize winning RUINED). Will was slated to be in this Loop version until he got cast in a production there in NYC at Off-Broadway's Playwright's Horizons.

I agreed to step up and perform the show myself, which will give me the opportunity to develop the piece from the inside out. I do not act in traditional theatre productions very often any more and I very rarely act in my own work. The whole endeavor has been like walking back into a room you remember from many years ago, trying to put together exactly where you stored away things in that space. Old muscles are creaking back into use. So now it is quite an adventure.

I flew to NYC and worked with a really generous, diligent director, Mr. Andy Merkel. He was working with Will and he agreed to help me do the piece myself. I ventured through the snow to his apartment in Red Hook, Brooklyn everyday for a week of 8-hour rehearsals. He really is responsible for putting the foundation of the staging together and I can't thank him enough. So, little old me comes out of acting retirement, the playwright Brad McEntire, is venturing into the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.

Rehearsing CHOP at director Andy Merkel's apartment, Red Hook, Brooklyn.
February 25, 2010

Blurry pic of me walking back to the bus stop in Red Hook, Brooklyn
after CHOP rehearsals with Andy Merkel.

The piece grew out of two aspects of my life. First, the character and story are partly pulled from a previous abandoned play (my Thesis play for grad school at Texas Woman's University). Second, in 2006-2007 I lived and worked in Hong Kong. The experience of being a stranger in a strange land led me back to the piece and my feelings of isolation, distance and separateness during my overseas travels show up thematically in the work.

The first draft was completed in Hong Kong in summer of 2007, shortly before I came back to the States.

So, the piece has been on my mind for over two years. Along the way, as it came together, I brought up what I was doing to a variety of people and they often offered suggestions, ideas and the like. For instance, my friend Paul was who introduced me to apotemnophilia. Up until then, I didn't know it was even a real thing. My hope is that by running it in front of audiences, I'll find out even more and more about the piece.

CHOP has been accepted into the 2010 Phoenix Fringe Festival in Arizona in April, 2010. That's its next stop after Out of the Loop.


Monday, March 1, 2010

VOLUME OF SMOKE approaches

“No tongue can tell, no pen describe the woeful catastrophe. No person who was not there can form any idea of the unexampled scene of human distress.”
—The American Standard, December, 1811

Directed by Ruth Engel

Featuring: Angela Parsons, Elizabeth Evans, Rhianna Mack, Oscar Contreras, Chris Piper and Tyson Rinehart.

Lighting design by Jaymes Gregory.

On December 26th, 1811, the Richmond Theatre burned to the ground. A standing-room only audience of 600 people had gathered that night to see a touring company present a billing of several different pieces. During The Bleeding Nun, a short play of haunted star-crossed lovers, the fire began. Of those 600 in attendance, seventy died—many women and children, many trampled in the panic that ensued. The dead included the newly-elected Governor, George W. Smith, who died after saving his wife’s life. The incident made headlines as far away as Germany and gave rise to the Second Great Awakening. 

In response to the tragedy, Richmond, VA, erected a church on the ashes of the theatre and banned all public performance (including street musicians) for eight years. The price of breaking the law was a ticket for six dollars and sixty-six cents. 

Weaving together a narrative out of more than twenty different characters in his signature lyrical-prose style, Clay McLeod Chapman constructs a narrative of the lead up to and aftermath from the Great Richmond Theatre Fire in the play VOLUME OF SMOKE. Based on interviews conducted with survivors of the fire in an unpublished 19th-century manuscript, VOLUME OF SMOKE is a beautiful, moving, surprisingly funny voyage into the heart of disaster and our responses to it. 

Playing March 11 - 27, 2010 (Wednesday thru Saturdays)
At the Bath House Cultural Center, 512 East Lawther Drive, Dallas TX. Map here.