All About Fringe: What Solo Artists Learned from the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

All About Fringe What Solo Artists Learned from The Hollywood Fringe Festival.
All About Fringe What Solo Artists Learned from The Hollywood Fringe Festival.

This month’s Soaring Solo blog is All About Fringe: What Solo Artists Learned from the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For over a decade, the Hollywood Fringe Festival has taken over the city with hundreds of performances, and there is usually a hefty sum of solo shows in that lineup each year.

I always encourage solo artists to consider participating in this notorious festival because it is a phenomenal way to network with other artists, put a meaningful stake in the ground to work toward with your one-person play, and ultimately be a part of something that celebrates performance art in a very inclusive and diverse way.

But don’t just take it from me, in today’s blog I have asked 13 members of the Soaring Solo Community enrolled in this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival what exactly they learned by being a part of it. 

Here is what they had to say:

First up, we have Steven Knox, the writer and performer of EN ROUTE who shared that what he learned was…

“The thing that I learned from my Hollywood Fringe Festival experience is trust, trust the writing that I did, trust myself as an artist, trust I am in a supportive artistic community, trust my director and team I have around me, trust my audiences that come see the show. Doing my first solo show was scary but if you want to be a better artist on the other side you have to learn trust.”

Next, I’d like you to meet Michael David Ker, the writer and performer of BIRTHDAY. He said…

“One of the things l learned performing my solo show at Hollywood Fringe Festival is that every night with a live audience has its own unique energy. The audience’s energy, plus me, equals its own alchemy that shapes the show into something mercurial that can never be repeated again.”

Then I caught up with Charley Karlotta, the writer and performer of NURSING IS MY LIFE who had a very short and sweet takeaway…

“… the Fringe community is very supportive.” 

 After that I chatted with Maria Fagan, the writer and performer of CONVERSATIONS WITH BEV who had multiple pearls of wisdom to bestow…

“Well in advance of the festival, set aside some time to handle the following items: create a schedule and budget, decide on your audio and visual cues, design a postcard, book a venue and find someone to record your show.  The sooner you have all those logistical pieces in place, or at least started, the more time and attention you’ll have to devote to your script, characters and performance.  Since you’re the one who’s responsible for every aspect of your show, give yourself the space and time you’ll need to plan logistics, as well as enough time for rehearsal.  This, in turn, helps calm your nerves and gives you the ability to enjoy the process.  You’ll thank yourself later!”

Then MaryLee Herrmann, the writer and performer of Schmaltzy and Princie, continued this robust conversation with her in-depth thoughts…

“My daddy used to say ‘Stories are precious’ and at times at the beginning of this insane, yet inspiring, ride that is Hollywood Fringe, I’d forget that. I’d lose sleep worrying about what I had or hadn’t done to prepare. I’d spend time sad that I was missing out on an event because I was struggling to memorize my script. I’d start comparing myself to others. Who has more people coming? Who has a pretty program? Why can’t I have it all together like he or she seems? Why can’t I have a sold out show? Why did I sign up to do Fringe when I can’t have everything ‘perfect’.  I’d forget that what matters most is telling my story for the people coming to see my show, ‘Schmaltzy and Princie: Diary of a Not-So-Great Daddy’s Girl’. Fortunately, I love performing and all these thoughts went out of my head before I’d go on stage. It affected my Fringe experience overall at times, though, and it wasn’t until I took a deep breath and reminded myself exactly why I am here. Daddy is right, stories are precious, and there are so many amazing stories to go see, and I am grateful to be part of this incredible community of storytellers.” 

I also picked the brain of Kirsten Laurel Caplan, the writer and performer of IS IT HISTORY, OR IS IT HIS-STORY? who excitedly claimed that…

“The biggest challenge is seeing all the shows, but it’s also the best reward!  No one fully gets what you are going through like the HFF community.  Every time I go to a show, I’m touched by people’s stories and run into friends from the Soaring Community and from HFF- it’s sweet!!  The comp swap is a beautiful thing!”

Next, Larry Davidson, the writer and performer of THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY really unpacked his experience by revealing…

“What I learned was to always keep the audience in mind. It was easy for me to get lost in my thoughts in the process. It was when hearing the audience’s laughter and seeing their tears that I knew why I did my show. Even though it is a solo show, it is not all about me, it is for them. Also, trust the director. Someone who has been through the process and understands the big picture and the end goal. The show would not have happened without a director and community support for inspiration.”

And Joyful Raven, the writer and performer of BREED OR BUST had multiple things to illuminate from her Hollywood Fringe experience such as…

“Make sure you have cheerleaders, community and solid grounding practices. The pull towards comparison and trying to do it ALL is very tempting. Make sure to prioritize self care. Make good fringe connections. This festival  is largely populated by other Fringe participants (or past participants.) Get the fringe community on board for your project!  Start your press campaign early. There is a lot of competition and the reviewers’s calendars fill up fast. Book a small theater! This way you can “sell out” much easier which is amazing for marketing purposes.”

Becca McGlynn, the writer and performer of ASEXUALITY! THE SOLO MUSICAL also had some feedback from her 3 performance run to offer…

“The most important thing I’ve learned is that, yes, I can actually perform a solo show! And that it’s so important to see many different solo shows by many different performers and directors, for entertainment and inspiration—you can do anything with solo theatre!”

I also inquired from Kamakshi Hart, the writer and performer of RESILIENT AF, who enthusiastically stated…

“…get as much support as possible! A solo artist needs to know they’re not alone and to recognize the importance of self-care and support systems as it’s an incredible amount of output in all directions. Telling our stories in this particular form is vulnerable! Having a community of those who ‘get it!’ like the Soaring Solo community is priceless.”

Another HFF veteran Shelley Cooper, the writer and performer of I WANNA FALL IN LOVE, wisely encourages solo artists to…

“Always remember WHY you are telling your story and that it is a brave thing to put yourself out there. It’s easy to get caught up in awards, reviews, what other people are saying, etc, but there is a bigger reason for doing what we do. And it’s really fucking scary, but the reward is huge.” 

All the way from Canada, Lisa Pezik, the writer and performer of TOO BIG FOR HER BRITCHES learned a lot from her travels to Los Angeles. She shared…

“I learned that no matter what happens, be proud of not only the end result of putting up a show, but also who you became in this process. That’s the real prize. Not critic reviews, or full houses, or awards (those are great!) but I believe our gift to the world is this work and having the courage to do it. We are the only ones that can tell our story and get up there and actually do it! So be proud that you started something and finished it. You didn’t wish, you did! That’s the best win! The only way you don’t win is if you quit. You’ve already won just by being here and doing it! “ 

And last, but certainly not least! Eli Hans, the writer and performer of AND…OUT OF THE BLUE came all the way from Mexico to tell his solo story, and he gave these gems of knowledge…

“I had no idea that such a supportive, kind and talented community of solo and other theatre artists existed. Coming from out of town (the heart of Mexico!) the camaraderie was such a welcomed and unexpected delight. HFF was challenging in many ways: never having seen the venue, nor met anyone in person, nor having a built-in audience in LA. The Fringeships were a delightful and unexpected part of the whole, memorable experience. “

Well, solo artists, the Soaring Solo Community and I could certainly go on and on about all of the rich lessons participating in the Hollywood Fringe Festival can teach you, but I suggest you partake in it yourself in 2023 with your own one-person play and see what your personal takeaways are!

You have my continued support as you persist along 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

Enjoy these Solo Theatre Resources to further guide you on your solo journey!

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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.

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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.

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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 for more information.