Monthly Archives: July 2010

So You Want to Write a One Person Show, Part 4 of 7

So You Want to Write a One Person Show, Part 4 of 7

So to recap, Part 1 of "So You Want to Write a One Person Show", I spoke about discovering the Central Moment that your show pivots on.  You did free-writing about this pivotal moment and you held it close to your heart, a secret for yourself.  

Part 2 of "So You Want to Write a One Person Show" we looked at the moments that lead up to the Central Moment of your revelation in your solo show.  We explored possible turning points and after effects of the Central Moment, and we looked at possible through lines, the threads that sew your stories together into one cohesive piece.

Part 3, Write write write.  It can be tempting in this phase to feel as if it's time to choose a topic and stick with it.  It may feel like you're taking a new direction or things are "falling apart".  Good.  Stay committed.  Create quantity now and worry about quality later.  "It's all good in the end.  If it's not good, it's not over." 

Part 4, Take a break, play, and contact your muses.  Whether it's closer to standup comedy or closer to melodramatic tragedy (not that I think you're being melodramatic), if you're following the process diligently, you'll find you may have become a little overwhlemed by looking at your life, or this fictional version of your life so intensely.  Of course your show might not be about your life..  it's still going to be intense to sit with all the work that's come through you over the recent past.  

This is a good time to take a little space from your project.  At least three days if not a week.  A good time to nap and write down your dreams, to spend time with friends who both relax and inspire you, who you tell the truth with, to read books that have nothing to do with your project.  A good time to draw or paint something, to make an offering or gift to your muses and ask for their guidance.  Make up a ritual or a ceremony!  Light some candles!  Invite that special puzzle piece, that something more into your work that you could not possibly have come up with on your own.

See a piece of theater or hear a piece of music that is truly brilliant, truly transportive.  Unfocus your eyes, soften your ears.  Understand how this art is specific and universal at the same time.  Grok how  some part of the person who created it bowed their small self to the something greater to come through them.  Perhaps it was a deeper intelligence in their brain or perhaps it was divinity..  It was most certainly something that spoke softer and felt truer than their personality, their habitual way of being, their social conditioning.  In Hindi, the word namastasay means to bow.  Find a way to bow your small self and make way for something greater. 

Ok, now.  Keep a notepad (and pen!!) by your bed, keep one by the shower, keep one in the car.  Before you go to sleep at night, ponder your show for at least ten minutes, as the last thing you do.  When you wake up, first thing, write down your dreams or any ideas relating to your show.  Do this for at least seven days in a row.  Any moment you feel something coming through you, say yes to it.  Write it down.  Write everything down that comes, no matter how silly, how insignificant it seems. 

Alternatively, you may find it helpful to create a time each day to allow this "transmission" to come through.  In that case, chose a time and a place to write for one half hour or one hour each day.  Light a candle or some incense at the start–whatever you need to do to mark this time and space as holy and invite that extra something in.  When you complete your writing for the day, always thank your muses and "close the circle". 

If it feels like things are backwards and confusing right now, this is good.  Anyone can write from A to B.  It's called a diary.  What's happening with you now is that you are breaking some holes in the fabric of your normal understanding so the light can come in and illuminate it.  

Ok, now take each incident or character or vignette in your show and put it on a 3 x 5 card.  Mix them up.  The sequence of your life is now like Dada poetry.  Play around with it for a while.  Scramble it up.  Notice themes and threads you may not have noticed before.  You may start to find an order you like.  Make a note of it but keep scrambling.

Part 5 will be forthcoming.  BTW, I am a real human and this is really being written now, so if you have questions or comments, please write to me and I'll do my best to answer them in future blogs.  I am also a solo show coach and can help you work through blocks and bring what wants to be expressed into being.  Keep up the good work!

Alicia Dattner