This month’s Soaring Solo blog focuses on Creating vs Conforming. In particular, how to embrace your unique perspective.
“The reward for conformity is that everyone likes you but yourself.” -Rita May Brown
Back in the 1950s, Solomon Asch led an experiment to explore just how much group pressure could influence an individual to conform.
Asch placed the one “real” participant in a separate room while the other “stooge” participants were all instructed to give the same wrong answer. When the real participant joined the stooge participants in the main room, they were all shown a graphic featuring various sized lines.
Asch then showed another graphic featuring a single line that was clearly the exact same length as one of the lines on the main graphic. Asch proceeded to ask all of the participants to say which of the lines were the same. The right answer was blatantly obvious.
As planned, all of the stooge participants chose the wrong line as they were instructed to do. The real participant did not know that the other seven participants were stooges. So, looking around and noticing that all of his peers were giving the wrong answer, he eventually gave into the pressure of the group and also gave the wrong answer.
This experiment was conducted multiple times often yielding the same results in which the real participant caved 75% of the time due to popular opinion.
When the real participants were questioned after the experiment, the majority of them admitted that they did not really believe that the incorrect answer was correct, but chose to go along with the group because they were scared of being ridiculed or considered to be peculiar.
A smaller portion of the real participants did believe that the group must be right and doubted their own intelligence. This self doubt motivated them to give the incorrect answer.
So, what does this have to do with solo theatre?
Well, in my many years working with hundreds of solo artists, I have witnessed brilliant individuals be afraid of speaking their truth from stage because they desire to fit in with society. Others simply think that everyone else must know better than they do and they let their insecurity alter or completely silence their words.
Now, full disclosure, Asch’s experiment has been criticized for how ethical it was and also the lack of diversity in participants. While it certainly had its flaws, the reality remains that far too many people censor their truth because they fear that they are outnumbered and conforming just seems easier.
Yet, our truth lives in us and we can either let it out or it will eat away at us.
Most actors come to me when they have finally arrived at a time in their lives when they no longer wish to conform to the crowd.
They have realized that they have a unique point of view that they want to share, a truth that they wish to reveal, and it’s almost as if they cannot move forward in any area of their lives until they have done so.
While this desire to express oneself may be intense, the temptation to quit along the way can be very strong. This is because the harsh reality is that once a person stops conforming, they may feel incredibly alone. And while it is a solo show, we are pack animals by nature and crave community.
So, in spite of this possible rejection, how do you as a solo artist stop conforming and speak your truth?
This month’s blog focuses on Creating vs Conforming. In particular, three ways to embrace your unique perspective.
1. Stop being codependent with your audience.
Art and codependency do not go together. To truly be a solo artist we must stop being people pleasers. We must trust that our perspective is just as worthy and valuable as everyone else’s. We must recognize that we will not be everyone’s cup of tea and that is okay.
2. Accept that people, places and things may fall away.
When you boldly and unapologetically speak your truth, it is inevitable that you are going to ruffle some feathers. You might lose relationships and opportunities that ultimately were not the right fit for you. You may have to say goodbye to aspects of self that no longer serve you and give up long-held crutches.
3. Walk the new path before you.
A funny thing happens when what we truly think and what we say are in alignment, a new path is lit before us. New people and new opportunities begin to show up, and new levels of self actualization occur. You start to discover that all you lost was replaced by that which is a better fit for you.
Believe me, I understand on an intimate level that all of this is much easier said than done.
When I made the decision to premiere my second solo show “ZE” which explored LGBTQIA+ themes, I knew that I was risking various losses. And the losses did come. I was asked to step down from leadership at my church. I lost a circle of “friends” nearly overnight. I lost the sense of normalcy and predictability my old life offered me.
I entered a world that was new territory for me…my own queerness.
So, do I regret writing and performing my show? Would I take it back if I could?
To this day, it is my single greatest accomplishment. I am afraid to think the life I would be living today had I settled for conforming rather than creating my show.
I now have dear friends that know the real Jessica inside and out and accept all of me. I have a spiritual practice that honors and celebrates my sexual expression as a pansexual woman. I toured successfully for years making a living performing my solo show. I run a company that encourages others to speak their truth, and most importantly, I have a much better relationship with myself than I did before I authentically shared my story.
All to say, it may not be easy to choose not to conform, but there is a precious freedom found in our unique expression.
Hopefully, today’s Creating vs Conforming blog gave you some insight on how to create rather than conform.
Keep going on your own solo journey. It may not be easy, but it is so worth it!
Jessica Lynn Johnson
Soaring Solo Blog
Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo LLC
Enjoy these Solo Theatre Resources to further guide you on your solo journey!
Tune in and support the Soaring Solo Community as we participate in the REVEALED Virtual Reading Series this winter!
Award-winning director and developer, Jessica Lynn Johnson, hosts a slew of powerful solo show script readings addressing various impactful and inspiring topics.
This enticing lineup can be found by CLICKING HERE FOR MORE INFO.
Start writing your own solo show one Freewrite at a time with “FREEWrite Friday”!
Join BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST WINNER Jessica Lynn Johnson for FREEWrite Friday!
Utilizing thought-provoking writing prompts, Jessica will lead you in writing exercises that are sure to assist you in the development of your solo show.
A one-person-play is not typically written in one fell swoop. Rather, the Soaring Solo Methodology teaches that the creation of solo art is much like that of creating a Mosaic…one beautiful piece at a time.
All that is required to attend this inspiring event is a willingness to explore, having a pen, paper, or some other means of capturing your thoughts, the ability to access Zoom, and signing up on this page as your official RSVP.
We look forward to having you join the Soaring Solo Community in this event because your story matters!
CLICK HERE TO RSVP and obtain the Zoom link and password.
Attend the Soaring Solo FREE One-Person-Play Development class ONLINE!
No matter where you are in the creation of your solo show, idea phase, curiosity phase, full draft written, touring the festival and college market, BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST and founder of Soaring Solo, Jessica Lynn Johnson, will meet you where you are at and take you to the next level! All that is required to attend is a willingness to explore, a pen, and some paper. No previous writing or performance experience necessary, and no need to have written anything to bring to class. Each week Jessica will guide you in exercises to help generate and stage NEW material! So come and meet other creatives in a supportive space for expression and exploration!
The class is ongoing and so you may pop in and out as you please as long as you RSVP by clicking here for this FREE ONE PERSON PLAY CLASS.
Schedule an Online Coaching Consultation with Jessica Lynn Johnson to discuss the possibilities for your solo show!
Jessica brings her 15+ years of solo theatre expertise to work privately with solo artists from all over the world on an as needed basis.
A 1 on 1 Consultation is for you if…
-You are curious about creating a solo show, but you need writing prompts to help you generate material.
-You are tossing around ideas for your solo show, but you need some accountability and encouragement to commit those ideas to the page.
-You have already written some material, but you need expert feedback on editing, story structure and play formatting.
-You have a great first draft, but need guidance on how to utilize multimedia and solo theatre technique in order to make your show a dynamic piece of solo theatre.
-You already premiered your solo show and now you want some tips on how to tour colleges and festivals, and garner accolades and great reviews!
-You have heard great things about Jessica’s work and you’re curious about hiring her as a director and developer for your solo show, but first you want to feel her out and see if she is the right fit for you and your project.
Wherever you may find yourself on your solo journey, Jessica will help you overcome whatever immediate obstacle stands between you and your solo success.
If you resonate with many of the things on this list, then take the next step by emailing SoaringSoloArtist@gmail.com for more information.