At the start of a new year, there is usually a frenetic and exciting energy that drives us to want to create, achieve, and make this year the best one yet!
I hope that you are feeling some of this motivation and inspiration as you look ahead at 2023 and envision your way forward as a solo artist.
My objective in this month’s blog is to help you successfully navigate the next 365 days with some useful tips to live by as a solo artist.
Here are five DO’s and DON’Ts of solo theatre that you will want to be mindful of in order to make your solo dreams a reality.
1) DON’T be vague about your solo show goals.
DO make an inspiring plan!
One of the worst traps to fall into when creating a solo show is the trap of ambiguity.
If you do not set a goal and make a plan for your solo show, then you will likely stay in a “someday” mentality, and your one-person play ambitions will never actually take stage.
With that in mind, I encourage you to do some research on festivals, venues, and other performance opportunities so that you can find the right fit and put a stake in the ground.
It is important to note that oftentimes festivals offer a lot of built-in support and structure that can be helpful if it’s your first time performing your show. Festivals can also be a vehicle to garner reviews, nominations, awards and other accolades. This can be especially true if your solo show is a bit more seasoned and you are simply looking to pick up your tour again.
If you find the festival circuit a bit overwhelming, then finding a venue you vibe with and doing an independent run can also be a viable option. This route might provide you with more freedom in setting dates, times, ticket pricing, etc.
As you consider where and when you want to perform your solo show, ask yourself how much time you are willing and able to carve out to properly prepare your show for performance.
If you have all the time in the world to devote to your creativity, then maybe a goal of a few months is doable. However, if you are spread fairly thin with several balls in the air, you may want to give yourself 6 months to a year so that you can actually enjoy the process and be ready when the time comes.
Be wary of giving yourself too much or too little time.
The point is to see a tangible trajectory that is meaningful to you and will therefore motivate you in your creative process.
2) DON’T be a perfectionist when you are writing.
DO allow yourself the freedom of expression!
Writing is rewriting, as they say.
So, if you are putting off your solo show plans until your script is “perfect,” you are setting yourself up for failure right from the start.
Your script will never be perfect. There is no such thing. So let that expectation go because perfectionism is just a clever game that your fear is playing with you in order to keep you stuck in your comfort zone.
Give yourself the grace of a first draft, a first performance, a first tour, and so on.
More importantly, as a solo artist, give yourself the gift of self expression. Even if some of your writing hits the editing room floor later on in the process, these early sentiments may be important for you to express in order to discover the words you really want to say from stage.
As you grow and change as a solo artist, so will your solo show.
Maybe you don’t invite the toughest reviewer to opening night, but that doesn’t mean you postpone indefinitely.
Afterall, you won’t know what is and is not working until you bring your solo show out of your creative cave and into the light of day to share it with others.
3) DON’T go it alone!
DO cultivate a creative community!
Yes it is a one-person play, but it truly takes a village to bring it to fruition.
Please surround yourself with other solo artists who are walking this same path and will understand its trials and triumphs better than anyone else.
Vulnerably share with your close network of friends, family, and significant others that you are embarking on a bold journey and you would love their support along the way.
Build a creative team of industry professionals trained in the genre of solo theatre and delegate roles and responsibilities so that you can wear only the hats you wish to wear and not try to play every part behind the scenes.
Most importantly, be the type of audience member you would want for yourself and go see other people’s solo art. If you show up for others, the odds are good that they will show up for you too.
One is the loneliest number, even in solo theatre.
4) DON’T treat solo theatre like any other genre
DO respect the unique genre of solo theatre
Yes, your experience and skills as a standup comic, poet, storyteller or ensemble actor will likely serve you well in the genre of solo theatre.
However, in order to excel in this art form, you need to recognize that solo theatre is definitely its own unique expression.
You would not expect a professional football player to run onto a basketball court having never practiced or learned the rules of basketball, and naturally be a star player. Yes, their athleticism would be an advantage, but the rules are very different and need to be understood and practiced in order to be well executed.
The same is true for solo theatre.
Owning the stage by yourself for an hour (maybe more), and possibly playing a cast of diverse characters comes with its own nuance, technique, challenge and reward.
That said, be sure to work with a Creative Team that has experience in this field. And watch performances of many, many solo artists, especially the greats like Sarah Jones, John Leguizamo, Anna Deavere Smith and Lily Tomlin.
The more solo theatre you watch, the more you will learn about your own style and aesthetic. You will discover what resonates for you and what does not. You will recognize when you are confused and when you are clear, when you are drawn in and when you are checked out, and you will witness firsthand what is so special about this medium.
Of course, you want to find your own authentic way of stepping into this form of theatre, but make your creative choices from an informed place.
5) DON’T let reviews rule you
DO take in feedback in a healthy way
Opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.
So, whether it is good or bad, all feedback is just some other person’s opinion. If you let outside sources dictate your solo art, you are missing the entire point of this genre, authentic self expression.
That said, it is important to allow in other points of view. Constructive criticism and feedback is a very important part of the process. You just want to balance the perspective of others with your own intuition and beliefs.
It is dangerous to base the value of your show on what other people say about you, however, it is also risky to create in a vacuum and never allow others in.
Always consider the source and the motives of anyone who is weighing in on your solo art. Do they have your best interest in mind? Do they understand this genre of theatre to speak about it with wisdom?
At the end of the day, you want to be sure you are taking time to be still and sit with yourself and ask, “am I proud of my solo show? Have I said the things my Soul needs to express? Is there anything that anyone has recommended that feels right for me to change?”
After taking in the input from others, Incorporate the things that resonate with you and then toss the rest aside. Trust your gut and you will know what is right for your and your solo show.
Hopefully, this month’s blog gave you a handful of things to do and not do in order to improve your solo artistry.
Being a solo artist may not be easy, but it is so worth it!
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 in multiple festivals Internationally. We are about to have ENCORES of the Soaring Solo STARS Series in February and jump into SOLOFEST at Whitefire Theatre from JANUARY thru MARCH! You do NOT want to miss these incredible shows.
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”!
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 & 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!
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.