Self-care Tips to improve Your Solo Show Performance

This month’s Soaring Solo blog focuses on self-care tips to improve your solo show performance.

“Rest and self-care are so important.When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” -Eleanor Brown

I recently had the pleasure of being a panelist and instructor for the Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Festival’s annual Empowerment Weekend (EW).

EW is an amazing virtual event in which multiple Solo Theatre industry professionals gather together to lead panels, workshops and host interviews centering around the genre of one person plays.

One of the workshops that I had the honor of co-facilitating alongside LAWTF co-founder Adilah Barnes was focused on “Holistic Self-Care.” In this workshop we wanted to unpack what it really looks like to nurture ourselves inside and out so that we can show up on stage as the best version of ourselves.

As solo artists we often focus so much on the creation of the script, followed by the production and performance of the solo show, that we pay little to no attention to our self-care as we attempt to accomplish these goals.

Self-care is absolutely important in our preparation for our solo show premiere.  We have to be healthy in mind, body and spirit in order to perform to the best of our ability. 

As solo artists, we have to be disciplined and vulnerable writers. We have to emote in front of audiences about traumatic and personal events from our lives. We have to maintain energy and stamina as we move, dance, and utilize the entire stage in the performance of our shows. We have to memorize massive amounts of content and then trust ourselves to remember it all in front of a crowd while we stand alone on stage. We have to morph from character to character shifting our voice and our bodies to support this transformation. All to say, we have a lot on our creative plates and if we do not properly tend to our wholeness we will likely burnout.

With those high stakes in mind, LAWTF dedicated the Holistic Self-Care workshop to having a fascinating discussion about various practices that support overall health.

As a group, we brainstormed things such as meditation, nature hikes, quality time with friends and family (and even our pets!), yoga, napping, prayer, journaling, therapy, 12-step meetings, and many other wonderful ideas for maintaining our well being as solo artists and as people.

I was so inspired by this fantastic workshop that I wanted to continue this exploration about self-care beyond Empowerment Weekend. So, I had a conversation with Soaring Solo resident choreographer Pamela Najera-Michael who has exquisitely brought movement to solo shows such as “Yes, No, Maybe So” by Catherine Barnes, “Naturally Tan” by Tanya Thomas Thorpe, “Post Pardon Me” by Liesel Hlista, “Too Big for Her Britches” by Lisa Pezik, “Mafia Anonymous” by Pina, and “Schmaltzy & Princie: Diary of a Not So Great Daddy’s Girl” by Mary Lee Herrmann.

Since Pamela is so gifted in utilizing mind, body and spirit in her work with the solo community, I asked her for some tips that we could all consider implementing to have better self xare as we prepare for our solo performances.

Here’s what Pamela had to say…

“As writers, we’re exercising our brains on a daily basis. But, when it comes to exercising our bodies… well, let’s just say walking across our bedrooms to grab our laptops doesn’t count. Most of us are fairly content with our workout routines (or lack thereof) because our lives revolve around our writing. We’re quick to jump on the latest creativity-boosting teas, but how could exercising possibly help our writing? As it turns out, there is a lot of evidence that working out helps the brain work more creatively 

Ever notice how shallow our breathing gets when we’re in deep thought (especially when we’re recollecting a traumatic event) during our writing sessions? That’s what yawns are for. We yawn because our brain cells lack sufficient amounts of oxygen. (It’s not because your story is boring and not good enough. LOL!) The deep breath associated with yawning helps us to draw in more oxygen and supply the much-needed oxygen to the tired body organs including the brain. 

Benefits of mindful breathing. 

1. Reduces physical stress symptoms in the body 

2. Positively affects emotions and mental well-being 

3. Increases mental clarity, energy, and focus 

4. Improves future reactions to stress 

Here’s a VERY simple exercise that you can do for 5 minutes. 

“Box Breathing” 

Sitting in a comfortable position. (Lying down is ok, but you may fall asleep) 

1. Inhale through the nose long and deep for 6 counts (1 mississippi, 2 mississippi, etc) making a soft snoring sound through the back of your throat 

2. Hold breath at the top of the inhale for 6 counts 

3. Exhale through the nose long and continuous for 6 counts making a soft snoring sound through the back of your throat 

4. Hold breath at the bottom of the exhale for 6 counts making sure to push all the air out of your lungs before repeating the sequence at step 1

If you’ve never done any breathing exercise like this, you may want to start at 4 counts eventually working your way up to 6. Notice that your lung capacity will increase as you do this breathing exercise daily. You’re already doing your body and brain a world of good! 

No more brain fog. And may the creative juices flow freely once again! 


I love how Pamela honed in on such a simple yet powerful exercise that we can do to engage in better self-care in order to reach higher levels of solo theatre art.

A big thank you to Pamela! I really appreciate your insights to share with the NoHo Arts community and beyond.

And as for you solo artists, I hope you have a new outlook on how to take better care of yourself so that you can effectively dive into writing, memorizing lines, and performing on stage. 

Please continue on your 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!

Tune in and Support the Soaring Solo Community as we share our stories from stage!

Award winning director and developer, Jessica Lynn Johnson, hosts a slew of powerful solo show script readings and full staged productions 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”!

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,B EST 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.

 

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.