“Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” -Deepak Chopra
As spiritual leader Deepak Chopra alluded to in the quote above, getting rid of rigid boxes is an essential part of being a successful Solo Artist.
Solo Theatre is a genre that celebrates the authentic artistic expression of each individual; therefore, boldly acting upon your own creative genius and imaginative ideas will enable you to develop an interesting, unique, and entertaining one person play.
With that in mind, I invite you to get rid of any personal boxes that keep your creativity contained, step outside of your comfort zone, and think about a colorful approach to telling your story that you may have never considered before.
In today’s blog, we will be exploring the concept of Personification as it applies to Solo Theatre.
And by personification, I mean the portrayal of any inanimate object, or otherwise inhuman entity, that is given human traits and personality in order to become a fully realized character in your solo story.
Personification is by far one of my favorite theatrical devices, and I am excited to illuminate a few of the benefits that this clever tool provides.
1) Add humor to awkward moments!
Personification is an excellent way to bring humor to awkward moments that we may not want to recreate using realism.
For example, in the one woman show “October Baby,” written and performed by Brooke Baumer, with direction and development by Yours Truly, Brooke personifies a set of lace curtains, a wooden bed, and a pink wall in her in-laws’ bedroom.
This colorful cast of characters humorously narrates a sex scene between Brooke and her husband Tom.
By becoming these inanimate objects and having them give a play by play of the physical action they were witnessing, Brooke was able to tastefully approach a very intimate moment in her marriage and also infuse a great deal of comedy.
Take a look at Brooke’s use of personification in October Baby on YouTube!
2) Prevent therapy on stage!
Personification is also a very effective way to prevent therapy on stage.
In another show I had the pleasure of Directing and Developing entitled “Wild At Heart,” written and performed by Kamakshi Hart, Kamakshi embodies her Shame as a recurring character throughout the entire show.
By consistently weaving in the character of Shame and having him berate her brutally, Kamakshi was able to illustrate for the audience just how large of a role her internalized shame has played in her life as a survivor of sexual trauma and other abuse.
Delving into such serious subject matter could make for a very dark and depressing solo show. However, because Kamakshi’s portrayal of Shame had such a comedic edge to it, Shame soon became a devilish character that the audience loved to hate.
Shame’s antagonistic antics frequently brought levity as Kamakshi’s tale of trauma unfolded.
Incorporating comedy, even if it is dark comedy, allows the audience to let down their walls and let in thought-provoking and deeply challenging material.
In “Wild At Hart,” Kamakshi also personified her inner wisdom as a character aptly named the Inner Guru.
This guru spoke of many traumatic sexual experiences from a heightened place of compassion and wisdom. Not only did this approach make the information more accessible for the audience to receive, but it also provided a much safer means for Kamakshi to talk about these horrific events without harming herself emotionally, mentally or spiritually.
Personification often grants a safe distance for the performer to recount dramatic and traumatic events without re-traumatizing the artist and this navigates the actor away from the trap of therapy on stage.
3) Heighten the stakes!
Personification allows the solo artist to take any ordinary moment in life and make it extraordinary, and subsequently the theatrical stakes are heightened.
In yet another show I had the pleasure of Directing, “Voices,” award-winning solo artist Carla Delaney portrays a slew of musical instruments she encountered at the music store when she was a child.
Not only did this creative choice allow Carla to display her enormous talents as a voiceover artist and character actor, but it took an ordinary day in her adolescence and made it an extraordinary event filled with whimsical and fantastical characters.
Each dynamic character had a rich point of view and individual agenda which resulted in raising the dramatic stakes of the scene as a whole. Which instrument would she choose? Would they be left behind? Did they want to leave the music store at all?
I could go on and on with many more inspiring examples of solo artists from the Soaring Solo Community who have powerfully utilized personification to enhance their one person plays. Yet, I trust that these three sensational solo artists have exemplified a myriad of reasons for you to think outside of the box and play with personification as you create characters for your solo show.
So, if you are looking for ways to make your one person play more entertaining while challenging yourself as an actor and as an artist, then start to identify objects in your world who could tell your story for you. Begin looking within to see which emotions and aspects of your inner world could become captivating characters!
Enjoy these Solo Theatre resources to further guide you on your solo journey!
Tune in and Support the SOARING SOLO SALON on Saturday February 27th @ 3pm (PST)!
Award-winning director and developer, Jessica Lynn Johnson, hosts a matinee of brand new solo show excerpts taken from the Soaring Solo Community all around the world!
This enticing program will be pre-recorded and will feature six superb Solo Artists throughout the show.
The talented lineup includes: Christion Ty Edwards, Veronica Matthews, Phyllis Gordon, Michael David Ker, Mary Guillermin and Bethany Vee.
Enjoy these solo stories from the comfort of your own home, safely prerecorded at the homes of each solo artist, and know that a large portion of the proceeds will go toward supporting the Whitefire Theatre during a global pandemic. There will be a post show Q&A with all of the artists, hosted by Jessica, on Zoom. This event will be monthly. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ABOUT THE SOARING SOLO SALON.
Start every Hump Day off right with FREE guided meditation and writing prompts with “Isolate Meditate Create”!
Join BEST NATIONAL SOLO ARTIST WINNER Jessica Lynn Johnson EVERY HUMP DAY @ 9AM (PST) on ZOOM for ISOLATE. MEDITATE. CREATE!
This is a 100% free guided meditation & writing prompt experience is designed to keep you healthy, connected and creative EVERY HUMP DAY during STAY AT HOME and who knows, maybe you will even write your one person play with the content you create.
CLICK HERE TO ATTEND ISOLATE MEDITATE CREATE 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!
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.
1 on 1 coaching and 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 & 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 resonated with many of the things on this list, then take the next step by emailing SoaringSoloArtist@gmail.com for more information.
Jessica Lynn Johnson
Founder & CEO of Soaring Solo LLC