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Meet Brad McEntire of Audacity Theatre Lab in Carrollton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brad McEntire.

Brad, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a theatre artist. I work mostly as a playwright, performer, director and producer. I run a small company called Audacity Theatre Lab. Here’s how that came about…

I studied theatre as an undergrad at the now-sadly-defunct College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and then later earned a Master’s degree at Texas Woman’s University. I had grown up around Dallas and after brief stints living in London and New York, I returned to the area. In 1999, I started a small theatre group called Audacity Productions. That lasted until 2006 when I left to work overseas and the company dissolved. We were sort of this scrappy, little garage-band sized company that performed in found spaces, local festivals and outdoor amphitheaters. We did a lot of new works by emerging playwrights around the country. We had a satellite sketch comedy troupe called Mild Dementia that was pretty active. It was a rollicking time. I wore many hats and the whole thing was a lesson in learning by doing.

In 2008, I restarted the company with the name Audacity Theatre Lab. The mission shifted to an emphasis on small, personal, original projects exclusively created in-house. We strive to support the artists first and their ideas. The artist, in turn, can then serve the community directly. Over the last few years, we’ve become known for supporting and developing one-person shows. Since 2014 Audacity has produced an annual solo performance festival called Dallas Solo Fest, bringing performers in from around the country along with local and regional performers.

Despite a few years as a commercial actor, I have seldom really been a traditional jobbing actor around town. I don’t audition for outside projects that often, though I will sometimes accept acting or directing gigs at theatres around town if they call.

Nowadays, I am one of the core members of the company, still serving as Artistic Director of Audacity Theatre Lab. I develop my own work and often direct and act in those pieces as well. Throughout the year, I travel around North America to various venues and “fringe” theatre festivals performing one of the quartet of solo shows I’ve developed through Audacity over the last decade.

I recently became a parent (my wife and I have a nearly three-year-old toddler) and my priorities have changed a bit. My theatre activities have slowed a bit over the last few years, but also deepened. A lot of my recent work has been more personal, more bold and more idiosyncratic than it was before I became a dad. I have been concentrating lately on further developing my own voice as a theatre artist and trying to create a lasting body of work.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I would not say it has been smooth and it definitely has not been linear. There have been setbacks and roadblocks all along the way. I am naturally restless and I seem to stick my fingers into many pies. Because of this, I have a very wide scope of interests and skills, but I am not terribly specialized. I have noticed, over the years, that the result of this generalized approach is that my career has moved at more of a glacial pace than if I had picked and then stuck with a single discipline. After years of work in my field, in my town, I am extremely, painfully aware of being a “hidden gem.”

As I moved from acting into playwriting, directing, producing and so forth, I stumbled quite a bit, trying to figure things out. I still stumble sometimes. Again, a lot of my journey has been learning by doing.

I have had some wonderful help along the way. My good friend and fellow theatre artist Jeff Swearingen was a great collaborator, especially in the early days. My friend Grant Knutson, who runs an outfit called Minion Productions out of Seattle has served as Associate Producer of the Dallas Solo Fest and has been a wonderfully helpful colleague. And my wife, Ruth, continues to be a supportive presence. There have been many more who have helped nudge me onward in large ways and small. I am supremely grateful for them.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Audacity Theatre Lab story. What should we know?
Audacity Theatre Lab is a scrappy, fiercely independent theatre collective. Started, in its current iteration, in 2008 Audacity has developed its own intimate, subversively sophisticated, all-original approach. The troupe stays small, with just a few members at any given time. The members of the theatre write and perform their own original stories that are often small in scale, but epic in scope. Sometimes bizarre, sometimes dark, sometimes silly. The plays created by the artists of Audacity are all produced with simplicity, determination, and honesty. Using an economical means of production for a variety of original projects, the aim of the company has evolved over time to encompass one clear goal: make deeper and deeper, rather than larger and larger, works for the stage.

The mission of Audacity Theatre Lab is to exist as a platform for the imaginations of a collective of individual theatre artists. The artists of ATL are empowered to use the company as an outlet for the creation of new theatre projects, be they bold re-imaginings of existing works or the incubation and exploration of completely original works for the stage.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think luck comes to those that are ready to recognize opportunities when they arise. If a person isn’t ready for it, he or she probably won’t even see it as a potential adventure. But if one is prepared, that person might just see an amazing path open up before his or her eyes.

For me, this has shown up in many ways. I have uncovered some great collaborators who were undiscovered gems when I first encountered them. Because I have kept my theatre company small and flexible, we have been able to leap on certain opportunities when they’ve arisen.

The times where luck has worked against me are usually times when I did it to myself. Those were times when I didn’t listen to my instincts. I guess I could consider it ill-fortune, those times when I couldn’t quite see or wasn’t quite prepared for what was to come.

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Image Credit:
Grant Knutson, Audacity Theatre Lab, Ruth Engel-McEntire

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