solo performing

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solo performing

Postby Roy Janik » February 14th, 2006, 2:37 pm

It's a long ways off for me yet, but I've been thinking lately about one-person improv shows.

Who here has done such a thing? And do you have any good stories/advice about undertaking solo shows?
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Postby mcnichol » February 14th, 2006, 2:45 pm

I am just before a meeting and promise to write more later today or tomorrow, but I have done this before and can speak to some things. I took a 6-week workshop and performed in a solo-improv show for a few weeks afterwards. It was this:

I promise to write more later...
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Postby sara farr » February 14th, 2006, 3:06 pm

I'm also interested in Solo Improv, though I am not ready for it. Let's see if we can get this guy to come to OOB!!

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Sybil is available for Festivals and events. Because the form is improvised, it can adapt to different lengths, themes, and audiences. Call Andy Eninger at 773-531-5086 for rates and availability."
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Postby erikamay » February 14th, 2006, 3:55 pm

andy is an INCREDIBLE performer.

i have not personally taken his class, but would DEF. do a workshop if he came to town.

also every single person who has taken his workshops raves about it.

good stuff if you want to tap the solo ass.
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Re: solo performing

Postby mcnichol » February 14th, 2006, 4:52 pm

Roy Janik wrote:It's a long ways off for me yet...

Sara wrote:...though I am not ready for it.

I personally don't think that's true. It's another tool in the toolbelt -- not to take anything away from it as a skill to be learned and honed -- and I'd bet you are both way more ready than you're giving yourselves credit for.

I took a one day workshop originally with Andy and, at the time, I didn't think I was ready or anything. I was preparing to do a two-person show and I thought it would be a good skill since it helps with playing multiple characters. It was definitely challenging, but you just sort of jump in and start swimming. And in my case, swallowing a bit of water. But it definitely made me want to do more. I got into the 6-week workshop and performed it at the end and it's definitely helped with the multiple characters thing. You need to constantly switch between characters and doing so requires the ability to switch between a few things:
1. point of view -- maintaining that same, consistent point of view in each character AND letting it progress through the scene/show.
2. physicality -- using consistent posture, voice, gestures to inform both yourself and the audience as to who the hell that character is.
3. the progression of time -- even if you just left one character as he was leaning against a wall to switch to another person in the room, when you switch back perhaps the leaning guy is now striding towards the other character. you get to determine all of this as the sole performer up there, and only you know where these characters are and what they are doing when you are not embodying them at that moment. It's exciting for the audience (and for you!) when you switch back to a character and suddenly they are asleep, or have moved somewhere else. OR, even more exciting, that there's another character in the room that we don't see til half-way through the scene.

It's also a good form for doing more monologlistic (a word, yes?) stuff as a strong character.

I have no advice -- I'd actually recommend taking this workshop from Andy -- other than (just like in any other improv) to focus on what is Real and Truthful and to not worry about being funny. Funny will just happen if you stick to honest feelings, reactions, points of view, etc. It's hard enough to be funny when you're doing a scene with multiple people. When you're the only person on stage, you have zero time to cook up some funny stuff. Just speak and react honestly and use strong, identifyable characters that 1. give you alot to work with and 2. are easy for the audience to identify when you are switching between, and you're gold.

Erika wrote:tap the solo ass

Now, this is just uncalled for. Please, a little decency here...
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Re: solo performing

Postby Jastroch » February 14th, 2006, 6:24 pm

mcnichol wrote:
Roy Janik wrote:It's a long ways off for me yet...

Sara wrote:...though I am not ready for it.

I personally don't think that's true. It's another tool in the toolbelt -- not to take anything away from it as a skill to be learned and honed -- and I'd bet you are both way more ready than you're giving yourselves credit for.

This is something I've heard from people here and there, about not being ready for X,Y or Z due to lack of exerpience. I can remember being intimidated as fuck'ing hell the first couple of times I had to either perform with or in front of someone more "experienced."

This sort of resonates with the competition thread for me. Second guessing yourself is the biggest enemy of being a good improv. As someone who still grapples with getting stuck in his head, I have experienced this a lot.

Improv is all about support on and off the stage. I say, if you want to do a one person show, then go ahead and do one. And that applies to everything. Don't care about "failing," and chances are it'll kick ass. And everyone else around has your back, so there's nothing to fear.

If anyone else wants inspiration, I have a line of posters and calendars with my face on it and motivational soundbytes like "Achieve!" Or you can call my help line.

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Postby ChrisTrew.Com » February 14th, 2006, 6:30 pm

A) Jastroch's help line is really helpful
B) It was just yesterday that ColdTowne was discussing 1 person shows. They seem like they would be fun, fun, fun.
C) Jastroch's help line exists.

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Postby valetoile » February 14th, 2006, 8:49 pm

Do you remember when you first started improv, and you felt that loosening as you began to trust the people around you, and realized you could just let go? That you didn't have to worry about being right or clever or interesting or good, that you could just be, and be supported? When I had that realization, I think it changed my life. Now I relish every chance I get to completely throw myself headfirst into something and possibly fail (I think swimming and bodies of water are excellent analogies here- fun, exhilarating, a little dangerous, but if you trust your instinct, you;ll come out alive and smiling). I've done a little solo improv- some scenes for maestro, and I took Lamb's workshop a while back- maybe a year or more ago? I find that solo improv pushes you to be completely in the moment- you don't have time to think about what you're going to do or what should happen next- you only have time to react- to what you yourself are doing. It's fun and in a certain sense easy because you can give up active control and just be there on the stage- it's like making up stories when you're a little kid. i think it would be awesome to do a style show or a showcase or maybe even a mainstage run with lots of solo improv.

And the bonus: you can practice whenever you want.
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Postby beardedlamb » February 15th, 2006, 1:12 pm

solo work is challenging and requires the best of your focus and positive thinking to work.

i've done several solo shows in two formats. it was sean hill who suggested in passing that i should do a longform where i play all the characters back in probably 2002. i said there was no way. that would be impossible. i messed around with it while no one was looking and then tried it out in my improv class at UT. i had so much confidence in my work back then that it went off without a hitch, and whatever minor hitches were experienced, i just overlooked. i named it bigly huge (hugely big) and did a small run at the hideout and it went great. i did it at fronterafest and probably did one of the best shows i ever have. got voted best of the week and the very next day at the best of the week show i sucked balls. i let my mind get in the way and i had reached the mental limit of pressure. the house was huge and there were a lot of important theatre people in the audience that night. i just let my confidence shake and it jacked me up. after the show i was stunned and really disappointed. i still feel like my solo show has not recovered from that incident a full three years ago. the first cut is the deepest according to neurologist cat stevens.
i moved up to chicago and after having trouble finding chicago opportunities i toured to small theatres and festivals and did the show. i had another huge opportunity in the Del Close marathon of '04. again, i stunk it up. alight, it was decent but i still felt like a failure in a really important situation. i submitted the show again for '05 but was overlooked.
the moral is, and i have not actually been able to put this into action, just words, but don't let your confidence get to you in solo situations. you're going to be up there alone with no one to bail you out. you will have moments of blank mind. you will make mistakes. you will do great. these are the things you have to remember going into the solo work.
i have half-retired that format and only do it when people beg me. it just psychologically drained me and made me wonder about my career choices.

i would support anyone to not perform the solo work who says they are not ready, unless i know enough of their stuff and can just call it a self-esteem issue. this is easier to fix. but trying to do it before you're ready can actually be bad for your improv on the whole. maybe after several classes from a great teacher like andy (i've never had him but have heard great things) one would have the confidence to go up and do it, but just blanketing everyone and saying "go for it" is not the thing to do. i like the idea of doing it in little snippets from several people in one show.
for the first out of bounds, the wednesday show was actually a coming out show for a four week solo class i taught leading up. i would say that a couple of those performers were not ready to take it on by themselves and it was my bad for just blindly giving them the full confidence to get up there and go. the show suffered and some of their egos were bruised.
not every part of improv is just jump and justify. some of your risks need to be more calculated.

i was so funked by the whole thing i created a new solo show called All In where i bring the audience up to the stage with me piece by piece and do scenes with "the people." it has done well and it always makes me laugh quietly to myself that that was the first time i met rachel m.
i brought her up and we did a four person scene about a plane going down. ironic considering how well the scene went over.

but i hear people are interested in workshopping this so i may teach some solo stuff again. i am much better now as i have taught the class several times on tour. we should do it over a few weeks and then do a show. that's the best way to really conquer all of your fears once you're ready. if someone doesn't think they're ready they can sit it out or if i disagree i'll make them do it with my hot poker. i haven't had to use it in a class in austin but one time in dayton, OH... well that's a story for another thread.

practice it by yourself in your room in your underwear or in front of a supporting group of people also in their underwear. the only way to get at it is by doing it. just be careful of your scale at first.

jesus, i need to work instead of talking to the internet.
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