Dallas — Audacity Theatre Lab's fourth Dallas Solo Fest returns, after taking a break in 2017. The event runs June 6-10 in the smaller studio space at the Dallas Children's Theater. Look for interviews with each performer, and reviews of each show, coming on TheaterJones.
This time we're talking to Los Angeles-based Jim Loucks, whose The Biscuiteater opens at 7 p.m. Friday, June 8; with repeat performances 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 9; and 7 p.m. Sunday, June 10.
Directed by Lisa Chess, Loucks' solo performance draws on his Southern childhood to tell the story of a small-town policeman, loosely based on his Granddaddy, haunted by his shooting of a black man in the line of duty. As he nears the end of his life, he seeks redemption through teaching his grandson to respect life and to respect himself.
How long have you been performing? And specifically, performing solo shows?
I began acting in college and went on to get my MFA in Acting from the University of Georgia. I moved out to L.A. right after that to pursue acting in film and television, but was always drawn back to the theatre. While I was working on audition pieces with director Carol Rusoff, I started bringing in short stories that I had written to develop as monologues. They started to fit together and we created my first solo show called Cemetery Golf about 10 years ago. Before that I hadn’t really considered being a solo performer, so it was something that I sort of fell into and I’m very happy that I did. My wife Deb and I really enjoy traveling the country with the shows. We are artistic partners, I do all of the onstage stuff and she does the off-stage. I am very, very lucky.
How did this piece come together? How long did it take, and how many times have you performed it for audiences?
I started performing this piece The Biscuiteater about two and a half years ago. During that time, I have performed it at numerous fringe and other theatre festivals all across the country, including the Tucson Fringe where I won “Best Solo Performance.” It came together much the same way as my first show, by putting together short stories and finding a story arc. I worked with a new director Lisa Chess on this piece, who I actually met at a Fringe festival down in Austin, Texas. She was directing another solo show at the time and we found that not only were we both living in Los Angeles, but also a couple of blocks away from each other. Synchronicity!
Talk about relevant. Was there a specific incident that inspired this show?
I was thinking about important people in my life who inspired me and number one was my grandfather. I always thought that he would make a great character in a play, so I really tried to capture his essence in The Biscuiteater. I started to write about my relationship with him, and it turned out to include an incident that happened during his time as a police officer when he shot someone in the line of duty. It became a play about him dealing with the guilt of that and at the same time helping his young grandson get through a tough time in his own life.
What are the challenges of performing a solo show?
With a solo show, you must be vulnerable, there’s no place to hide. You have to allow yourself the courage to put it all out there. That is definitely a challenge.