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.


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