Asking for Help

I hope your 2023 has been good so far. Here’s my March newsletter, in which I share how vulnerable it can be to ask for help, and then I ask for a little bit of help. As always, there’s a writing prompt plus updates on workshops and my other goings-on.

Asking for Help

Have a great rest of March and a lovely Spring or Fall depending on your hemisphere!

For every-other-month writings on creativity, writing prompts, and updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. It covers what this blog used to cover, and more.


Letting Go & Creating Space

Happy 2023! I hope yours has begun well. Here’s my January newsletter, in which I share how I’m letting go of something connected to my first solo show. As usual, there’s a writing prompt plus updates on workshops.

Letting Go & Creating Space

Have a great rest of January and a Happy New Year, both Western and Lunar!

For every-other-month writings on creativity, writing prompts, and updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. It covers what this blog used to cover, and more.

Creatively Expressing 2022

Happy Holidays! Here’s my December newsletter, in which I encourage you to write or express the hard experiences as well as the joyful ones in your creative work about the past year. As usual, it has a writing prompt plus updates on workshops in 2023.

Creatively Expressing 2022

Have a great rest of 2022 and a Happy New Year!

For every-other-month writings on creativity, writing prompts, and updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. It covers what this blog used to cover, and more.

Sharing It & Adulting | Communication

Why hello! Here are my October and November newsletters, which go into different issues we might face when crafting our stories or working creatively in general. They also have writing prompts and updates on my goings-on.

Sharing It & Adulting


Have a great rest of November!

For every-other-month writings on creativity, writing prompts, and updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter.

Thank you for reading my fortieth post! I love your comments! Please feel free to leave one below.


Why, hello there. It’s been an age.

Two years! Good gawd.

For some time now, I’ve been meaning to post about retiring my first show. Something about saying goodbye and letting go and so on…three+ years (!) after the fact.

As it turns out, I’m dusting the show off one last time to perform excerpts as part of a wonderful series in L.A.

Speaking of which, I need to start rehearsing it immediately. 👀

But the main reason I’m posting after such a long hiatus is to let you know that my writings on creativity, along with writing prompts, can now be found in my monthly newsletter (instead of this blog).

I don’t know when I’ll write about creating and touring a solo show again, because I think I’ve posted on the major aspects of the whole shebang.

But never say never! If and when I do write about it, it will be in the newsletter.

If you’re not already subscribing to the newsletter, you can do so here.

Below are this year’s newsletter issues, with the most recent on top:

Finishing it / Starting Something New

Trusting the Creative Process (Part 2)

Trusting the Creative Process


Putting It Off & Greatest Need

For the Sheer Delight of It

When It Turned Out Well

Being Helped

New Year & Writing Prompts on Video

I’ll post links to future issues here when they’re published, but if you’d like to read them without having to click on a link inside a blog, just subscribe.

Thank you so much for reading this blog over the years! It meant everything to read your comments here and on Facebook in the various solo show and storytelling groups. It transformed my day to receive your kind responses.

I was terrified the first few (many?) times I posted on this blog. Talk about vulnerable.

You were so encouraging and appreciative that it made all the difference.

Thank you again. I am so grateful.

Please let me know in the Comments if you’re working on anything so I can cheer you on!

May your creative pursuits bring you creative fulfillment. Have a good, safe rest of 2022 and beyond.


For monthly writings on creativity, writing prompts, and updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter.

Thank you for reading my thirty-ninth post! I love your comments! Please feel free to leave one below.

Follow Up Sooner

I hope you and yours are well. I’m so glad you’re here.

I learned something recently that I want to pass on to you. You might already do this when you reach out to book your show as a Zoom performance, but just in case you don’t—

Wait a second. Let me take a moment to talk about online performances.

They’re happening! They’re the bridge between theatre and no theatre during this pandemic. I realize you probably knew this but my mind remains a little blown by it.

My brilliant friend Jennifer Blaine performed her show Having a Good Time via Zoom back when the pandemic first shut things down in the USA. I was so happy to have the opportunity to watch her perform “live” even though I’m in L.A. and she’s in Philadelphia. Kristina Wong, my kickass sister queen from the inaugural Solo Queens Festival, has been booking her show Kristina Wong for Public Office all over the place as an online performance. I also recommend Diana Wyenn’s Blood/Sugar, which has the most sophisticated online tech production values one could imagine, on top of being a powerful show.

If your show is performable in your home, and we know it is because that’s where you’ve rehearsed it between gigs, then you can book it as an online event.

It’s not easy, but neither is booking an in-person event, so here we are.

If you’ve been trying to book your show as an online performance, or are thinking about trying, here’s something I wish I had told you years ago:

Follow up within a week or two.

I know I’ve told you to follow up in the past, but I should have been more specific. When I reach out to someone individually for the first time, I’ll follow up within a week or two. But when I e-blast everyone on my list, I just hit them up once per month. I’ve done this for years.

Apparently, that was a mistake.

Last month I experimented: I scheduled two successive e-blasts one week apart. The first message was a variation on my usual pitch (I never send the exact same message month to month). The second message contained the first message, plus a short paragraph above it saying “Hello, I’m just checking to make sure you saw my message from last week etc. etc.”

Imagine my pleasant surprise and chagrin when several people responded, asking for my rates. I was chagrined because it hadn’t dawned on me to treat e-blasts the way I treat individual messages, with swift follow-ups.

I had thought monthly e-blasts WERE follow-ups, but in fact, they’re more like standalone messages that are similar. An actual follow-up happens sooner and includes the original message.


This did not ultimately lead to bookings, but I got closer than usual just by sending a second, very-easy-to-create message that went out a week later. I’m going to do this every month from now on.

Let me add: monthly e-blasts are still a good idea.

I no longer perform my first show, but I’ve been promoting the film of it on DVD to university and international school libraries. DVD sales dried up when the pandemic hit.

Then out of the blue, a few weeks ago, an international school bought the DVD! (I took that as a sign of hope for the US presidential election, and am glad I was right.) I’ve e-blasted that school every month during the school year for ages, and they finally bit! So once per month can work eventually…even during a plague.

I’ve also been plugging the film to instructors as something that can be screen-shared followed by an online talk-back with me. I offer to lead my solo show & memoir workshop as another option. These are alternatives to my former in-person bookings.

So far I haven’t been able to replace my canceled in-person bookings with online bookings at the same venues, but an online booking happened anyway…thanks to following up!

Last year I proposed a screening and talk-back to conferences around the world. Months later, by sheer coincidence, I learned that Alien Citizen was scheduled to be the closing event at one of those conferences…but no one had contacted me about it!

I emailed the organizers and swiftly received a deeply apologetic phone call. The lack of communication was obviously an innocent error due to the organizers’ being overextended. (Coordinating a conference is hard work.) The film wasn’t screened that year…but it was screen-shared at this year’s conference, which took place online!

Why? I followed up.

For a time, anyway. I kept in touch every month or two…and then, truth be told, I gave up after June. I was disheartened by all the cancellations I had experienced and could no longer believe any conference would want to screen-share the film via Zoom.

Imagine my incredibly pleasant surprise when the organizer contacted me last month about making Alien Citizen the closing Special Presentation of the conference!

Of course I said yes, and it went incredibly well! Hundreds of people signed up for the screening, hundreds showed up, and the vaaaaast majority stayed to the end. Their comments were utterly validating and uplifting, and their questions were stimulating.

It was a balm to my spirit after the year we’ve all had, and as a freelancer who keeps chugging away when it often seems pointless, especially during a global pandemic.

The icing on the cake: as soon as the conference ended, several attendees purchased the DVD of my film! It felt miraculous.

The most affirming part: it was a paid gig. Even now, during the financially roughest year many of us have ever seen, paid gigs can happen.

So remember when you pitch your show: follow up soon, follow up regularly, and even if you give up on a venue or event, your earlier efforts might result in a lovely reward.

Let me know if this helps. You deserve an audience, even now–especially now. I would love to be in that audience when you perform online.

Have a safe, happy Thanksgiving or Turkey Day tomorrow if you celebrate either one!

Announcement: the Holiday Sale for the Alien Citizen DVD begins on Black Friday this week. It’s 20% off! If you’re curious about the show I’ve been blogging about, here’s your chance to buy it at a discount.

For monthly updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. (It’s different from this blog, which is exclusively about creating and touring a solo show.)

Thank you for reading my thirty-eighth post! I love your comments! Please feel free to leave one below.

Making It Clear (or: How the Pandemic Helped Me Understand Something As a Solo Show Creator)

Hi. It’s been a while. How’ve you been?

Echoing the wishes of so many humans in 2020: I hope you and yours are safe and well. If you’ve been sick I hope you’ve recovered fully or are on that road. If you’ve been in mourning, then I offer my condolences, and hope you’ve been as unconditionally kind to yourself as possible.

I’m so glad you’re here.


Please allow me to say that if you’ve been creative in any manner, shape, or form since the pandemic was announced, you’re a hero as far as I’m concerned. I hope you’ll reward yourself if you haven’t yet.

I’ve done some play readings via Zoom, but the last time I worked on my new show—the one I started in 2014, so it sure as heck doesn’t feel new now—was in January.

That was also the last time I worked on this blog, on a post that had nothing to do with the pandemic because we didn’t know we were in one yet, so I’ll go back to that post another time.

Right now it seems imperative to write about the current moment and what I’ve learned that might actually help you in your creative work.

So here’s a question: has the pandemic helped you to understand yourself better, whether you liked it or not?

I ask because it has done this for me, which hasn’t been pleasant, but it has helped me to understand how vital it is to make certain truths clear in one’s autobiographical solo show.

Since March 11, I’ve become familiar with my own fear in a way that is new.

We all have fears specific to us, of course. When I was growing up, my fear was usually about being “the new kid,” “the misfit,” and/or “the girl” around bullies inside and outside of school every time we moved to a new country and then settled in. These fears were simply part of my daily life, and even though I knew intellectually that I wasn’t the only one experiencing them, they often made me feel entirely alone.

As an adult, now that the novel coronavirus has taken a deadly toll around the world without an end in sight in the USA (where I live), my general fear revolves around a) the brutal symptoms of the disease, and b) dying in abjectly lonely isolation. I fear this for myself and my loved ones.

So the fears of my youth and of today are actually the same: for me, involuntary total isolation is the thing of nightmares. (This is interesting for a solo (!) performer who frequently traveled alone with her show-in-a-carry-on to unfamiliar places where she performed for strangers…but you and I volunteered to do that despite the challenges. So Yay for our courage!)

I’ve always known involuntary total isolation was my worst fear. “Where Is Everybody?” is the Twilight Zone episode that spooks me the most. Stories in which someone is cruelly abandoned to a solitary doom make me burst into tears. This includes the moment when Noah won’t let Gonzo onto the Arc in a dream sequence in Muppets from Space. (Side note: I cannot recommend that movie highly enough.)

Nevertheless, I didn’t fully grasp this specific terror’s hold over me until we all found ourselves in a global pandemic.

By early April it was a full-on phobia, until I had to get annual physicals and screenings in June and August. When being inside windowless medical facilities among other people with masks on didn’t kill me or even lead to a sore throat, and a COVID-19 test came out negative, the phobia became the more generalized trepidation that many others seem to have. I’m keeping to quarantine, but I think I can handle infrequent masked speed-shopping at Trader Joe’s while keeping six+ (or better yet 12+) feet away from others.

Acknowledging how powerful my fear is and has always been made me think about my first autobiographical solo show, in which various themes emerged under the umbrella of displacement-and-identity.

Yet in that show (which is now a film), I rarely mentioned fear as an emotion I experienced consistently. I thought it was implied…but was it?

Thinking about it now, I wish I had added the line: “I’m always scared. Fear is just…life,” and then made some kind of simple, wry, evocative gesture.

If a certain emotion has colored much of your existence, it’s probably worth mentioning in your show one way or another. Ask your director if it’s implied or if you need to emphasize it. You could make it a laugh line if you want to avoid too much earnestness.

Pondering fear in Alien Citizen has helped me to recognize two other themes that could have been made clearer.

In a scene in which I play myself as a little kid, other characters think I’m adopted when they see me with my mom. I use my own hair to cover my mouth and nose to point out that my eyes and coloring make my Irish-European heritage invisible. Then later in the story, when I play myself as an adult, a character denies my Asian heritage to my face.

I thought it was implied in Alien Citizen that I never wanted to be white or monoracial. Instead, I wanted to be correctly identified, and for neither of my parents to be erased by other people. But I never said this in the show, so it’s not in the film, so some audiences may have walked away thinking “As a kid she wished she were white.” This is both incorrect and depressing.

I wish I had added this line: “I just want people to see all of me and not erase either of my parents!”

One last important truth that may not have been crystal clear in the show: a country’s wealth or lack thereof is irrelevant to your happiness as long as you have real friends there. National wealth equals convenience, which should not be underestimated, but it also cannot replace friendship, which equals love, trust, and belonging. Good luck to anyone looking for happiness without those, no matter how pretty their suburb is.

I thought this was implied when I created the show…but was it? Now I wish I had made it clearer.

I hope these examples help you to pinpoint and clarify all of the important truths in your show.

Is there something you mean to say? Say it. If you have any doubt about its clarity, say it plainly.

Of course, if you can show it clearly in a scene, that’s gold.

My first show was very dense, and I managed to pack it with some very important truths from my life, but I wish I had highlighted the three I’ve mentioned above. My wish is for you to walk away from your final performance knowing you said everything you meant to say.

Let me know if this helps at all. When it’s finally safe to gather, I would love to see your show!

BONUS: This podcast has provided me with great comfort during the pandemic. I hope it helps you, too.

Announcement: 20% of proceeds from individual rentals of Alien Citizen will be donated to Color of Change through the end of 2020. If you’re curious about the show I’ve been blogging about, here’s a way to see it and give to a good cause at the same time.

For monthly updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. (It’s different from this blog, which is exclusively about creating and touring a solo show.)

Thank you for reading my thirty-seventh post! I love your comments! Please feel free to leave one below.

How To Fundraise for Your Show

Do you need to raise money for your world premiere, or a performance at a festival or conference, or a tour, etc.?

I successfully raised funds four times for my first solo show, so here are some tips:

1. It always feels scary and weird to ask for money for your own project. At least, it does for me. We do it because we have to, so:

  • Reward yourself for your courage every step of the way.
  • Remember that you’re asking people to fund something about which you care deeply—something that will challenge you as an artist and will entertain and possibly educate your audience.

2. Choose an online crowdfunding platform that states its policies clearly on the website. For one of my campaigns, I chose a platform because their representative gave a great pitch for it at an event. It sounded fantastic and the rep claimed that the platform operated like Kickstarter: if a goal wasn’t reached, the donors’ credit cards weren’t charged. However, that wording was nowhere on the website and the platform changed their practice to simply taking the money, goal be damned, while my campaign was still active!

I cannot describe the stress this caused when it looked like that campaign might fail and all of my donors would never be reimbursed. Fortunately, the campaign reached its goal, but it almost didn’t.

3. Be honest with yourself about your budget and what you can afford to chip in, if anything. If you need $8,000, and don’t have a penny to contribute yourself, ask for $8,000 in your campaign. Don’t add thousands of dollars of debt to the strain of producing and rehearsing and performing.

4. A lot of people wait until the last week—often the last 3 days—to donate. Try to do a lot of yoga breathing during this time.

5. If you’re fundraising toward the end of the year, a lot of people’s budgets are committed to gifts and travel, so they might only donate if they can get a tax deduction at that time of year.

6. Send the campaign via email to every single person you know. Email is still more direct than social media, which can feel impersonal.

  • Send your campaign link with a very cordial, warm message. Be sure to greet them with “I hope you’re well” or “I hope your holiday season has been good thus far” or something else that’s considerate of them. Be very grateful to them for reading the message, possibly passing it on to their theatre-loving friends, and for even considering donating. In other words: show a combination of enthusiasm and humility.
  • Add a post-script that says something like, “P.S. If you would like me to take you off of this list, please let me know. No questions asked.” When some people DO say “take me off!” or “unsubscribe” (and believe me, some will), don’t take it personally. Just respect their wishes. Don’t reply to them unless they ask you to.
  • The fewer people we irritate, the better. The people who support us are gold.

7. Re-send the email with an update (“50% funded!” or whatever) halfway through the campaign.

  • Do this again 10 days before it ends (and mention how much time is left).
  • Do it again 3 days before it ends (and mention how little time is left).
  • Be sure not to include people who’ve already donated. They’ve been generous already, so all they should get is a whole lot of thanks and “perks.”

8. Post the link to your social media pages once per week until the last week—at that point, post it every day.

9. People give to people, not to the thing being funded, a lot of the time. They’re donating because they want to support you, and frequently, that’s it.

  • A number of donors will opt out of receiving the perks your campaign offers. Ergo, don’t sweat the perks that much in terms of what they are. Think of something you yourself might like to receive that isn’t expensive or difficult to manifest. The perk is your way of saying Thank You—it must not be of equal worth to the donation, not even close. If it were, you’d spend all of the donations on the perks and have nothing left for the show.
  • Some people will kindly donate without ever coming to the show. Do not take it personally. Sometimes people’s priorities are elsewhere, and that’s valid.
  • No matter why they donate, no matter if they come to the show, your donors are the wind beneath your wings.
  • Thank them.

10. Although the perks you offer will usually not be why people give, there’s one exception: producer’s credits are very enticing for bigger donors. People like having that credit on their CV/résumé or as bragging rights if the show does well, and they may be more likely to donate because of the credit.

  • I suggest you give them “Executive Producer” credit, because that title is often given to people who donate moolah rather than help with the hands-on labor. It’s actually a film/TV/web series credit, but frankly, I think that’s okay if it helps you to raise the funds you need.
  • A more appropriate credit would be “Sponsor,” so you could offer that as well or instead.
  • I gave my biggest donors the title “Associate Producer” and wish I had gone with “Executive Producer” instead…maybe because I live in L.A., the heart of the film industry in the USA.

11. Most of your donors will likely be your family and friends, but you won’t be able to predict who gives or how much. Years before I created Alien Citizen and before online crowdfunding existed (!), I raised money for a production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. The campaign began quite suddenly when my mom stunned me by writing and handing me a check after listening to me fret about how I didn’t know how to fundraise. That gave me the courage to start a formal campaign. The first person to respond to my letter (via snail-mail, mind you) was a dear friend who donated more generously than I had expected from anyone in my social circle. I thought $50 was the most I could expect from individual friends. I was wrong, and it was both humbling and encouraging.

12. Total strangers will also give to your campaign because the subject matter interests them or their friend is your friend, etc. They will be in the minority but they do exist.

Back when I produced Three Sisters, I promoted the campaign to a Yahoogroup (remember those?) and was astonished to receive a check from a man I had never met who lived across the continent from me. He had been intrigued by my description of the show and decided to donate out of sheer goodwill. Since he was unable to see the production, he sent friends in L.A. in his stead. He then sent another check because his friends praised the show so highly! This could happen to you.

Years later, this person became a kind of guardian angel to Alien Citizen. He saved my campaign for the world premiere when I thought it would fail…and we still hadn’t met in person!

  • There are kind and generous people in the world.

13. Your campaign video does not have to be great, but it won’t hurt if it is. Here are four examples of differing quality from my own crowdfunding experiences:

  • The very first one I did for Alien Citizen (then called Unpacked). It’s pretty dull…but it was my most successful campaign, because all of the funds were raised in the first two-and-a-half days!
  • The one I did for the world premiere. This is the best video, and yet the campaign was struggling until just a fews days before it ended, when the wildly generous donor whom I had never met gave enough to bring the goal within reach, and then some smaller donations made up the difference.
  • This one is kinda wacky. It’s the video I created to take the show to a theatre in Iceland. When I posted the link to social media, I was convinced everyone would be offended by yet another ask from Lisa…but they donated! Like I said, people donate to people, and if they want to support you, they will.
  • The one I made to take the show to two conferences on different continents. I asked for more money than ever before and was truly afraid that people would cuss me out for it. No one did. Instead, people gave enough for me to take the show with my “techie” husband to Spain and South Africa. I didn’t reach my goal but got close enough to make it work.

14. People you didn’t even know had that kind of money may be among your most generous donors. The reason my very first Alien Citizen campaign succeeded in the first two-and-a-half days was because someone donated almost half of what I was requesting. I had no idea she could donate that much, and I had no idea she would even want to.

  • Again: there are kind and generous people in the world.

15. Make good on your perks. This will come back to you in good ways.

  • Many people told me over the years that I was the only person whose campaign they had supported who actually sent them their perks as promised. Because of this, many of them donated again when I fundraised again.
  • I also kept all donors informed of the show’s progress every month so they would know where their money was going. When I took the show abroad, I emailed picture travelogues so donors could experience Reykjavík, Valencia, and Cape Town with me.
  • I had multiple donors who donated multiple times. I’m not sure they would have done so if I hadn’t kept my word re: my perks, nor kept donors informed of what was happening along the way.

I hope this helps you to successfully fundraise for your show. Please add any of your own tips in the Comments. We all need as much good advice as we can get on this topic.

And: Happy Holidays! May the year come to a satisfying close for you and may 2020 bring you much fulfillment and abundance.

[Title edited, 12/19/19 at 1:04pm. -LL]

Announcement: The Holiday Sale for the Alien Citizen DVD ends TODAY, December 19th. It’s 40% off! If you’re curious about the show I’ve been blogging about, today’s your last chance to buy it at a huge discount.

For monthly updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. (It’s different from this blog, which is exclusively about creating and touring a solo show.)

Thank you for reading my thirty-sixth post! I love your comments! Please feel free to leave one below.

Making Progress When It’s Slow Going

Are you working on a new show that’s taking longer to complete than expected? Have you walked away from it a few times, for weeks and even months?


So I’m relieved and proud to announce that I just submitted the latest draft of my new show to a prestigious program that supports and helps playwrights to revise, rewrite, re-imagine, and complete works in progress.

Before I submitted the draft, the program’s deadline galvanized me into reading the script aloud to my husband, which was something I had meant to do the month before…and maybe the month before that…and maybe even…I’m not sure, let’s not dwell on it.

The deadline sparked me into taking swift, decisive action, so I gave the reading just a few days after learning about the program and two days before the application was due.

Deadlines are beacons, as I’ve mentioned before. Thank goodness for this one, which pushed me to take the next necessary step.

Reading the script out loud to another person helped me to understand exactly where the biggest problems were in the writing. (You know you need to revise an entire section when you, its creator, find it tiresome to read aloud! There were several instances of this during the reading.)

My husband confirmed the problems. On the bright side, he also noted that I had improved the flow of the story by making a huge structural change since my last reading a year ago.

At that reading for him and a small group of trusted theatre friends, the consensus was that I needed to sharpen the script’s focus. After working on that for a few months, I realized the piece also needed a structural overhaul, so I added that to my efforts.

I didn’t spend hours of daily labor agonizing over those changes. I didn’t even work on the script every week.

I spent anywhere between 10 to 60 minutes at a time on it, working once every three weeks, on average. That means I sometimes worked two days in a row, but then wouldn’t get back to it for six weeks.

Ideal? Nope. Did I make progress, albeit slowly? Yup.

After reading the latest draft to my husband and seeing how much work was still needed, and how much progress had been made, I felt ready to submit the draft to the program. They may reject it as unworthy of more development under their auspices, but that’s not what matters.

What matters is this:

  • incremental steps moved me forward
  • a deadline was my beacon once again
  • now that I know what needs fixing and still believe that it has promise, I feel optimistic.

I started writing this script in November 2014. I could feel embarrassment over how long this one has taken me to complete, but I don’t.

I’m just glad I didn’t give up.

The adjudicators will let applicants know if our scripts have been accepted in early April. Regardless, I’m going to keep working on mine. I’ll finish this sucker with or without the help of a renowned program. Much as I would love support in an intensive, playwright-friendly environment, I know I can create a worthy show without it, because I already did with my first show.

I’ll perform this new one in L.A., either as a limited special event, or as a bona fide production with a four-to-five-week run. It will depend on what’s happening in my life at the time, and on how relatable or “niche” the final draft turns out to be.

I’ll have a final draft no matter what, and a world premiere after that, and you’re invited!

If you’re trying to get back into the habit of working on a script or other creative project, and you need a deadline to ignite you, look for one here:

Please drop me a line in the Comments if you know of other sources for submissions. Their deadlines are our lighthouses.

May you make progress on your project, in leaps and bounds or inch by inch. Either way, you’ll be honoring your creativity and making something, and I’ll always insist that that’s why we’re here.

BONUS: Wise advice on how to make progress when you’re feeling stuck:

For monthly updates on the goings-on of my solo shows, film, workshops, acting gigs, and more, subscribe to my newsletter. (It’s different from this blog, which is exclusively about creating and touring a solo show.)

Thank you for reading my thirty-fifth post! I love your comments! Please feel free to leave one below.

How To Keep Rehearsals Fresh When You’re Sick of Running Your Show

Do you have a performance or whole run of your solo show coming up?

If so, are you deadened by the thought of having to rehearse that thing…again?

You haven’t performed recently enough to have it “in your pocket”…but the thought of running it over and over until it’s finally polished again is just…blargh.

I feel ya from the very bottom of my soul.

So here are some tips:

1. If it’s been a long time since you performed it, spend at least 3-5 days just running the lines again. Consider recording the lines so you can relearn them aurally.

  • Record the lines in a sometimes robotic, sometimes atonal singsong voice, in order to prevent falling into predictable line readings.
  • When you play the audio, speak the lines along with it. Stop and rewind when you get to a section you can’t recall verbatim, to repeat it at least once.
  • Do this while doing something else that doesn’t require intellectual focus, so you’re completing two tasks at once. I listen to my recording on CD when I’m driving. (Yes, CD. My car is old but mighty.)

2. Once you’re ready to put the show back on its feet, rehearse it in chunks.

  • Start with one-thirds. Day 1: Run the first third (1/3) of the show. Day 2: Run the middle third of the show. Day 3: Run the last third of the show.
  • Graduate to halves. Day 4: Run the first half (1/2) of the show. Day 5: Run the last half of the show.
  • Take a break for two days. By golly you’ve earned it.
  • Day 8: Run the whole show, stopping and starting to finesse blocking and characterizations, even if you also did this during days 1-5. (Oh, now you remember, you make that gesture with your left arm, not your right…wow, it’s been a while…and maybe that character’s facial expression could be truer and less broad…etc.)
  • Day 9: Repeat the step above.
  • From here on: run it nonstop, inasmuch as that’s humanly possible, at least six times. Preferably eight.

3. After you’ve run it all the way through nonstop at least once, are you totally sick of rehearsing it, while also aware that it’s not ready for an audience?

Again: I feel you. Therefore, make it entertaining for yourself. Do the whole shebang with one of these attributes during each run-thru:

  • A thick accent that ain’t yours. I tend to gravitate towards Russian, which then weirdly morphs into Scottish. I eventually get bored with that and do French. I don’t question this, I just do it, and by golly I always learn something about a line or a moment when I do this in a run-thru.
  • An overwrought soap opera / telenovela acting style. If you don’t take pregnant pauses with flared nostrils and an accusatory glare, or with halting speech and quivering lips and eyes brimming over, then you aren’t committing. Commit and have fun, dammit!
    • Consider adding some stereotypical-Tennessee-Williams-play-acting: use a US Southern drawl and move as if you’re wearing a negligee or tank top and jeans in a hot, sultry environment. This can help you to be more over-the-top, which is what we’re going for here.
  • A standup-act quality. If your show already has this trait, then do it more like a hokey sitcom.
  • An Oscar Wilde / Noel Coward leading-role quality, British RP accent and all.
  • Enunciate every consonant as if your life depended on it.
  • Hyper-speed through it as fast as possible without injuring yourself.

If you get bored doing it one way, try another. Feel free to mix it up. Just make sure you’re engaged in the process.

The reasons you’re doing the above are threefold:

  1. It will prevent your falling into the habit of predictable line readings.
  2. You’ll entertain yourself, which is key to maintaining enthusiasm.
  3. You’ll learn something new about your show each time. Maybe the soap-operatic version will teach you that a particular moment actually deserves more gravitas. Maybe the thick accent will help you understand a line even better—even if you wrote it and even if it’s about your own life. Maybe doing it all for laughs will highlight new sections that should be played for laughs, or will prove that you need to give other sections the vulnerable poignancy they deserve.

By the last two run-thrus, you may be itching to perform it the way you want to for an audience. Think of those two rehearsals as the dress rehearsal and preview.

  • If you’re doing a full run-thru for a tech crew, that counts as the preview. Don’t despair if your energy is low—previews are rarely good, and if you’re performing that same night, you’ll want to conserve your energy anyway.

For more tips on how to keep feeling inspired and ready between bookings, read the section “Between Bookings” in this popular post. (You’ll need to scroll down.)

I hope this helps. Please let me know in the Comments if you have other ways of keeping rehearsals fresh. We all need as much help with this as we can get!

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