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How to Process Reviews of Your Solo Show

Four tips for solo artists on how to process reviews of your solo show.

“To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Aristotle

Aristotle bluntly pointed out that the only way to avoid criticism is to succumb to nothingness

Well, as solo artists, we are called to become everything we are capable of being when we sign up to tell our stories from stage. As storytellers we must bravely share our truth over and over again in hopes of enlightening, inspiring and transforming the world one intimate detail at a time. Therefore, we do not have the luxury of playing small, or worse yet, being nothing at all.

However, such bold authentic expression is not for everyone. In fact, many people quit along the way, never completing their solo scripts and deciding that the price tag for being so exposed is way too costly.

One of the costs that solo artists often fear is revealing their innermost thoughts, owning their biggest mistakes, sharing their passions, offering their insights, and basically being naked on stage figuratively and sometimes literally, only to face other people’s opinions. Yet, whether it is the review of a well-known critic, the critique of a dear friend, or even the offhanded remarks of a stranger, it is incredibly vulnerable to be judged in this way.

If people love our work, we may not believe them. When people hate our work, we may give away our power to them. And when they seem indifferent to what we’ve created, we may assume our art is not meaningful.

All of that said, if you can learn to be proud of your solo art, stand tall in your own point of view, own your unique creative aesthetic and remain open to feedback that will propel you forward rather than drag you down, then you will have a very successful and rewarding solo career.

So, in today’s blog, I am going to offer you some tips on how to process reviews of your solo show.

Consider the source.

Before letting a review sink into your psyche, always consider the source.

We are so conditioned to need approval that we often forget to ask ourselves, “do I even care about this particular person’s opinion in the first place?”

Do you personally know the person whose opinion you are about to read? If you do know them, do you value their point of view? If you do not know them on a personal level, do you respect the entity that they represent (i.e. a specific publication, blog, organization, etc.)?

Have you read this person’s reviews or heard opinions from this person in the past on other creative projects and works of art? If so, do you often agree with their analysis?

Do you trust the integrity of this person’s words? For example, is this someone who consistently finds the negative in any situation simply because they have a bad outlook on life in general? Is this someone who is deeply jealous and competitive with others and always diminishes the people in their sphere? Is this someone who sings everyone’s praises all of the time no matter what the quality of the work actually is? Is this someone who never seems to want to ruffle feathers with an inconvenient truth? Or is this someone you believe speaks their truth boldly with a balance of constructive criticism and sincere praise?

The point is, do not simply let just anyone weigh in on your work. Always consider the source.

Allow yourself to feel all of your feelings fully.

Hearing the opinions of other people after we have just left our blood, sweat, tears and soul on the stage is an incredibly emotional experience. No matter how they responded to our creative expression, we are bound to have deep feelings about their response.

If they give us tons of adoration, we may discover that we have not fully stepped into our worthiness yet and therefore cannot hold all of this praise. Or we may be flying high as a kite because they affirmed us and now we are chasing that high.

If they begin to pick us apart or tear us down, we may realize our skin is thin and we allow them to annihilate our Art as if their point of view was the end all, be all. 

No matter what type of commentary you receive, it is important to carve out time to be still with yourself, feel all of your feelings, and not make yourself wrong for feeling them. Feelings may not always be facts, however they still need to be felt in order to be processed.

So, allow yourself to experience the joy, the pain, the discomfort, the rage, the confusion, the elation, the jealousy, and whatever else needs to come up and out of you in order to clear the path for your next creative expression.

No other genre will teach you to self soothe as profoundly as solo theatre can if you grant it that power.

Assess the takeaways.

In the midst of the good, bad, and mediocre reviews, there will always be some useful takeaways if you can spot them. Trust your own intuition and if you believe that certain points that were made will enhance the quality of your solo show, then there is no shame in implementing those changes. 

Furthermore, if other aspects of your solo show were praised and you also feel good about those facets of your show, then allow yourself to bask in the accomplishment of that, and don’t change a thing! 

Just be certain that your goal is not to people please because you will simply never be able to please everyone, nor should you try. 

The most important thing is that you as the solo artist are proud of what you have created and can stand firm in your creation despite the opinions of others.

Write a fan letter to yourself.

The work of a solo artist is both challenging and rewarding, and at the end of the day, you should be your own biggest fan. Take the time to write yourself a letter stating all of the things you absolutely love about the script you wrote, the technical choices you made, the characters you discovered, the impact you have made on the world, the challenges you rose to meet, the talents you utilized, the audience members who came up to you afterward and shared how your words resonated with them, the hard work you put in to see this through to the end, and everything and anything you can think of to give yourself credit for, put it in that letter.

(Take a look at “How to Handle Your Inner Creative Critic” post.)

You deserve it and you will need it. Read it often. Trust your artistry and your calling, and remember that opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.

Hopefully, today’s blog gave you some tools to help you process reviews whether they are ranting or raving about your solo show. 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
SoaringSoloArtist@gmail.com
www.SoaringSoloStudios.com

Enjoy these solo theatre resources to further guide you on your solo journey!

SANTA MONICA PLAYHOUSE BINGE FRINGE FESTIVAL

Tune in and Support the Soaring Solo Community as we participate in the Binge Fringe Festival this fall!

Award winning Director and Developer, Jessica Lynn Johnson, directs a slew of powerful solo shows addressing various impactful and inspiring topics.

This enticing lineup can be found by CLICKING HERE FOR MORE INFO.

free write friday no date flyer

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 one-on-one 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.

Jessica Lynn Johnson
Author: Jessica Lynn Johnson

Jessica Lynn Johnson (Director and Developer) is a published playwright, recipient of BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST AWARD, Advisory Board Member of the LA Women's Theatre Festival, and Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo LLC. Jessica has aided in the development of over 150 solo shows (and is still going strong)! As a performer, Jessica has “edu-tained” international audiences touring her own one person shows ZE and OBLIVIOUS TO EVERYONE for over 15 years. Jessica's projects have taken home awards such as TOP OF FRINGE, HFF ENCORE PRODUCER AWARDS, TVOLUTION BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE, LARRY CORNWALL AWARD FOR MUSICAL EXCELLENCE & several other accolades! Jessica was also nominated for the Female Director of Distinction in Theatre by Girl Trip LLC at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival.

Jessica Lynn Johnsonhttps://www.soaringsolostudios.com/bio/
Jessica Lynn Johnson (Director and Developer) is a published playwright, recipient of BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST AWARD, Advisory Board Member of the LA Women's Theatre Festival, and Founder and CEO of Soaring Solo LLC. Jessica has aided in the development of over 150 solo shows (and is still going strong)! As a performer, Jessica has “edu-tained” international audiences touring her own one person shows ZE and OBLIVIOUS TO EVERYONE for over 15 years. Jessica's projects have taken home awards such as TOP OF FRINGE, HFF ENCORE PRODUCER AWARDS, TVOLUTION BEST SOLO PERFORMANCE, LARRY CORNWALL AWARD FOR MUSICAL EXCELLENCE & several other accolades! Jessica was also nominated for the Female Director of Distinction in Theatre by Girl Trip LLC at the 2018 Hollywood Fringe Festival.