The Month of CHOP

So this week and actually for the rest of the month of December, we will be bringing you the experiences of Brad McEntire of Audacity Theatre Lab as he took his show CHOP to the NOLA Fringe festival. Here is a little insight from and article he authored on the Audacity Theatre Lab blog. We will also be posting pictures in the next couple of days and then the video on Thursday. 

Without further ado..

 The Why Behind CHOP
By Brad McEntire 

I'm writing this post because I feel it is important, as an artist, to be clear about the purpose behind any work put out into the world. In this instant, I'm gearing up to present CHOP again (in Dallas for a benefit show to raise awareness and a few donations, and then at the 3rd Annual New Orleans Fringe Festival in November).

In the past I've written on the from "where" I got the idea to put together CHOP. I've written that the piece grew out of two seperate incidents in my life. One, it is the growth out of an aborted play I wrote in Grad school to fulfill my graduation requirements. That play was written to get a grade, and therefore, not the best artistic expression I could produce. But one of the characters out of the play provided the platform for CHOP. And for that I'm am grateful to have spent many hours creating that Grad school play in the first place. Secondly, I spent some time in Hong Kong in 2006-2007. It was major culture shock. I felt isolated and distanced not just from a basic understanding of the Chinese and their culture there in Hong Kong, but distanced from my own ability to reconcile this misunderstanding. As hard as I tried, I could not create a context for the misconnect I felt. This fed into CHOP, which I, in fact, started to write just before leaving Hong Kong.

One of the things I have been struggling with over the past year is the "why"behind my art and the art created under the banner of ATL. Everything must spring from the why. Why is it we do what we do? Dig just a little and I find all roads lead to love. Glory? Money? Recognition? Intellectual curiousity? Appreciation? Everything eventually boils down to our need for receiving, and giving, Love. I do theatre because I love it and because it is a vehicle for connecting us (the artists, the audience, all of us), first to a common event, then to ourselves, and then to those around us. And when the vehicle works like it should, we develop deeper human connection, and that makes us happier and the world goes around much smoother. From this basis of joy and love comes the domino effect of understanding, education, illumination. I love what I do and the sharing of it is an act of love. That love magnifies in the world through connection. What else is there?

Before I get too far off on an new-age rant, let me ground this line of thinking with this: the "how" is the meat and bones practical part of this vehicle, Theatre. CHOP is presented as one man (and by one man onstage) trying to figure out his place in a world he feels very distant from. He floats along the surface of it, observing, but not participating. He lacks connection.

Therefore, the play is the story of him finding connection (Love... of himself, for another and for a greater group outside of himself). In the story he finds his own unique vehicle for making connections happen. As I begin to work on the piece once again in preparation for the November performances, I hold close the "why" behind CHOP. I do it out of love.