This blog may evolve over time, but for now my goal is to share the following:
- tips on creating, performing, and touring your show based on my own experience
- my personal narrative about touring my first show and working on the next ones
- links to websites/blogs/TEDTalks/stuff I love that have helped me on this voyage.
This blog will not be a step-by-step instruction manual on how to create an autobiographical solo show, because others have already written such guides and written them well. I’ll give you links to those folks’ excellent instructions. There’s one at the bottom of this post! For now, I want to impart these two ideas:
1. If you know the story you want to tell but fear that:
- no one will come to the show
- no one will care even if they do come to the show
- you’ll start but not finish
- you’ll hurt someone by telling the story
- it will be superficial
- it will be like opening a can of worms
- you won’t remember important details to help the story make sense
- you’ll be harshly judged as a performer, writer, and/or person
- it will be self indulgent
- it won’t be original
- it will be too unusual and therefore not relatable
- it won’t be funny and you really want it to be funny
- it will be lousy
or any other fear(s) I haven’t named…I promise you that your fears are natural, not uncommon, and I’m pretty sure that every solo show creator has felt at least three of those fears when embarking on this…let’s call it a quest. Because it can feel like a quest: just as impossible and important and deluded and exciting and embarrassing and, above all, risky.
I believe this wholeheartedly: if you want to tell it then it’s a story worth telling. Someone needs to hear it—more people than you expect, probably. Your voice is unique and it matters. If you fear that the story is not original, the way you tell it will be. If you fear that it’s too “marginal,” the emotional truths that underly it will make it relatable. If you’re afraid of hurting people by telling it, you can figure out what to do about that after you’ve put it together. Please don’t let any fear stop you from writing the show, improvising it, workshopping it. The story is likely to morph into something quite unexpected anyway—that’s how these things seem to work—and the people you’re afraid of hurting might not end up in the final draft. If they do, they might come across as more complex (human) than you had expected…and it doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that you have a story you want to tell. Tell it.
I can almost guarantee that it’s going to evolve into something that you couldn’t predict, and you will learn about yourself as you work on it, and that will be invaluable. When in doubt, look at what you wrote on the back of that business card (tip #1 in my first blog post).
2. If you don’t know which story you want to tell, you can start anywhere, with any story.* It will be worth writing and as you continue to work on it you will eventually find the one you want to tell. Frequently, when creating, your psyche/muse/genius/subconscious/unconscious/whathaveyou needs you to express whatever it needs you to express first in order for you to get to the main story. So go ahead and express. It will likely be a warm up or a release, but in either case it will be worthwhile because it’s part of the process. Don’t worry about the result or final product at this point—it’s irrelevant right now. I’m going to say this even if it drives you up the wall, because it’s true: trust the process.
*If you’re truly at a loss as to which story to tell, and have a trusted friend/colleague who is willing to participate in one exercise and/or would like to work on her/his own show, too, I recommend doing the Story Exercise in Chapter 25 of Larry Moss’s book Intent to Live.
And now, a link to a terrific 7-part step-by-step guide to creating your show:
- So You Want to Write a One Person Show? by Alicia Dattner at Solo Performance & Comedy Coaching
Here’s the best advice in the above link, imo (in Part 2 and expanded on in Part 3): “Write Write Write | During this process, it’s imperative that you don’t censor yourself. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and just write. Don’t take the pen off the paper. Let yourself be surprised. Know that no one will see it. Say something to yourself you haven’t dared to speak until This Moment.”
Thank you for reading my second post! I would love to know what attracted you to this blog. If you would like to leave a comment, but don’t see a “Leave a Reply” box below, scroll to the top and click on “Leave a Comment” or “# Comments” under the post title.