Jeff Swearingen and Kris Noteboom tackle the solo format for the first time
The 2015 Dallas Solo Fest opens June 4 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. The festival, in its second year, will feature eight solo performers from around the country as well as a few locals. Each artist will perform an original one-person show.
For two local performers in the festival, Jeff Swearingen and Kris Noteboom, the Dallas Solo Fest marks the World Premiere of new work. More than that, though each has an extensive background in the performing arts, their participation in the DSF serves as in introduction into the world of self-created solo work.
Jeff Swearingen has been a fixture in the Dallas theatre scene for over a decade. He has won Best Actor awards and worked on many area stages. In 2011 Swearingen co-founded Fun House Theatre and Film. The goal was to disregard the usual plays tailored for young actors and instead challenge them by casting them in plays usually performed by adults. Swearingen is currently directing adolescents in productions of Sam Shepard’s True West and David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow.
Though Swearingen is not a stranger to solo performance (he performed Andy Eninger’s solo show The Last Castrato for Audacity Theatre Lab several times) An American Asshole in France, will be his foray into self-created solo work.
Several years ago, Swearingen took a trip to France. It did not go as planned.
“I told this story of what happened to me so many times,” Swearingen recalls “and people seemed to enjoy hearing it . When Brad [McEntire, producer of the Dallas Solo Fest] suggested I make it into a show, it seemed like a good idea.”
KrisNoteboom has worked as an arts journalist in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area for the past half decade, mostly for TheaterJones.com, while he completed his masters and PhD work in performance studies at University of Texas at Dallas.
“Initially, school didn’t allow me the time necessary to take part in theater as a participant,” says Noteboom. That changed when he was prompted by a class assignment to try his hand at creating a one-man show.
“I was taking a class with Fred Curchack called Creating Original Performances. Our first assignment was a four minute performance,” says Noteboom “I didn’t know it then, but that was the skeleton of the show.”
The class assignment gradually expanded into a full show called And Then I Woke Up, a series of humorous and bizarre monologues about dreams.
Both performers believe premiering their work in Dallas in important. For Swearingen home is a key component of his play.
“It is fitting that I do the show first here at home in Dallas,” says Swearingen “One of the main through lines of the piece is a fear of leaving home, of getting lost in the world.”
For Noteboom doing his play at the Dallas Solo Fest serves as a means of reinvention.
“Its a good way to reintroduce myself to the Dallas-Ft. Worth theater community.” Says Noteboom “I took the job writing for TheaterJones, which let me stay involved in theater from a distance. But, I’ve always been a performer first. And, hopefully this is a good way to show people as I try to transition back to that.“
Now that they have each created an original solo show, is there anything they are learning about putting the work together that is different from the usual work they do in the theatre?
“I have the freedom to do what I want on stage,” says Swearingen “I can format the show to fit my personality and follow my twisted little tangents, rather than have to mold my performance to fit a larger canvas like in work I am hired for. That’s kind of refreshing.”
For Noteboom, who is taking And Then I Woke Up to four other festivals this summer after the Dallas Solo Fest it is the behind-the-scenes work that is such an eye-opener.
“I’m learning what goes into actually producing a show. A lot of paperwork,” says Noteboom “I always respected producers, but now I worship them. It’s tedious and not fun, but necessary work for putting on a show. That’s been the biggest adjustment for me.”
The Dallas Solo Fest will be produced by Audacity Theatre Lab and will play at the Margo Jones Theatre June 4-14, 2015. Located at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park at 1121 First Avenue, Dallas, TX 75210, the Margo Jones Theatre features ample free, well-lit parking, access to the DART Rail, and a handy BYOB policy!
Single tickets and Festival Passes are available. Individual ticket prices for each show are $12. Reservations can be made via the Dallas Solo Fest website or by calling (214) 888-6650. Details about the shows, artists’ bios, the full schedule and ticket information at: www.DallasSoloFest.com