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 Mañana, 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.