Category Archives: Cultivating True Self

Comedy at the Center for Spiritual Living in Sacramento

Comedy at the Center for Spiritual Living in Sacramento

Here's an excerpt from the standup comedy show I did with the lovely and talented Katie Rubin at the Sacramento Center for Spiritual Living recently. Enjoy!

5 Ways to Deal with Professional Envy

5 Ways to Deal with Professional Envy

Elvis-presley Is someone else getting more attention than you and it's driving you crazy?

Sometimes it can be challenging to watch others finding success in your field while you struggle. Perhaps they started their career after you and are already enjoying compliments, getting great work, and appearing in the limelight.  It's interesting when, instead of feeling inspired, we feel envy or jealousy.  What a great opportunity for growth!  Particularly artists, who are often a 4 in the enneagram, are susceptible to jealousy.   I work coaching a lot of artists whose main block is comparing themselves to others.  And let me tell you: jealousy has not made any of my clients more talented, more brilliant, funnier, or smarter.  BUT…

Envy tells us several things:  

  1. It points to something we want.  Good to know what you want!
  2. It points to somewhere we can grow.  Good to know where you want to grow!
  3. It points to someone we can appreciate and admire.  Good to know exactly what you appreciate about them!
  4. It points to somewhere we can have compassion for ourselves for not being "perfect" already.  Great!
  5. It points to somewhere we have an attachment to things being other than exactly how they are and helps bring you back into the reality of your situation. Ahhh. 

So…  top five ways to deal with professional envy are:

  1. Write down what you want, based on what you're envious about.  Allow yourself to feel it.
  2. Write down where you'd like to grow.  Take an immediate action based on this.  Do something in the next five minutes that gets you closer to your goal. 
  3. Write down the qualities in them you admire, and then meditate for five minutes, feeling into how you already possess those qualities. 
  4. Meditate for another five minutes on compassion for yourself.
  5. Accept how you are right now.

Creativity Workshop Starts January in Oakland!

Creativity Workshop Starts January in Oakland!

Creativity Workshop Starts January in Oakland!

Six to One : Six Weeks to Complete One Creative Project

Are you ready to kick your creative work into high gear?  

Starting in January, and meeting for six weeks, the Six to One course will challenge and hold you to complete your chosen creative goal.  Each week, we'll meet, set intentions, check in about our work, and set about the task of completing a creative goal.  We'll also have guest co-leaders teach a new skill each week that will empower you to get closer to your goal.  

Life is short:  If you've had a creative project on the back burner–or the front burner–for months or years and needed that special combination of kick-in-the-butt and holding-the-hand to really get it done, this is your chance.  Life is short and it's time to live it up!  

Small Group, Special Attention:  With eight participants, you will divide into four pairs.  Your partner for the course will be your daily action partner (you'll let each other know at the beginning of the day what you plan to do and at the end of the day what you did do.)  We'll also have a mid-week phone call to check in about your progress each week so that you don't have any chance to slip through the cracks.  

The Syllabus:  

The evening meetings will be approximately three hours; the first hour will be for checking in, and a new guest co-leader each week will join us for two hours and lead us in the following skills.  

Week One:  Visioning, clarifying and setting intentions for your project.  We'll get really clear on what your project is, get a timeline worksheet to break the work into manageable sized tasks, and then give each participant the attention of the group.

Guest co-leader and I "circle" the group regarding desire and fulfillment and letting the deep heart lead.

Week Two:  Writing and the unconscious, opening the channel to creativity.

Guest co-leader and I lead the group to unblock the heart and the pen and help you "blow out the pipes" to get the creative juices flowing.  We'll write until we get blisters on our fingers.  Well, almost.  And this will be a practice you can take into the next five weeks to increase the speed and reduce the censorship of your creative flow.

Week Three:  Making your dreams sing, using your voice.

Guest co-leader and I lead a voice session that will allow you to purify, align and express your intentions, and make them manifest through sound.  As you speak your dreams, you reify them.

Week Four:  Embodiment and aliveness.  Your life is a performance. We are working from the subtle levels to the gross, from inside out in this course.  This is the process of manifestation.  This is not airy-fairy stuff, it's just plain creation.

Guest co-leader and I will take you from thought to word to speech to body, and awakening your whole being.

Week Five:  Support, self-care, and stepping into a bigger you.  One reason we don't step into a bigger Self in our lives is that staying small keeps us "safe".

Guest co-leader and I lead you in learning the essential skills of self-care and boundary setting that allow for a sense of safety and security which ultimately allow you to take your wings and fly. 

Week Six:  Celebration and integration.  If you have ever found yourself caught in a never-ending cycle of doing without rest and appreciation for the hard work you've done, you may not have learned how to enjoy yourself properly.  

Guest co-leader and I offer a celebration and integration of music and party (!) where you will learn to truly celebrate your accomplishments and allow yourself to receive the benefits of your work.  Authentic joy and celebration builds in such way that it pervades every area of our lives and warms the hearts of all those we come in contact with.

It's not where you are that matters.  It's how far you've come.

Early bird signup: now until December 11 and get $100 off!  ($195)  After December 11, the course is $295.  

In this project-based course, you get the support of:

-Special attention with a small group

-Community building with fellow artists and creators

-Eighteen (18) hours of class time

-A daily action partner to check in with

-A midweek conference call with the group to keep the momentum high

-Email access to Alicia for questions

Divulging the Material that Will Create Your Solo Show

Divulging the Material that Will Create Your Solo Show

Solo_show_secrets Writing the story of your life (or any other made up story for that matter), and then performing it for others, can be a difficult task.  A one man show or one woman show however depends on your ability to reveal the nitty gritty of your story in a way that is fascinating and entertaining, as well as perceptive and often humorous as well.

In writing my solo show last year, there were a lot of obstacles.  I wanted to tell a story, but I didn't really know what the story was.  I knew I had traveled to India.  I knew how I felt before.  I knew how I felt after.  But when people would ask me what I learned or gained from the trip, it was difficult to really put it into words.  There were also a lot of personal changes that I went through in the past couple of years that related to my trip to India.  I broke up with the man I was seeing during that time, and it became imperative to include my relationship in the telling of the story.  Only I didn't quite realize that it was over with him!  And in order to tell the story about how India changed me, I had to live it.  Art was imitating life which was imitating art.  

What stories are you living out, and are you able to step back and see them?  It can be difficult to see things that are in our blindspots, and even more difficult to speak them, let alone to speak them to the public.  These "secrets", these things we know but don't tell even ourselves, these pieces of ourselves we hide from daylight, they are the juiciest, most delicious parts of your story.  They are what make people come to the theatre.  They are what move us to laugh and cry when watching someone on stage who we don't know or care about, who suddenly becomes an inspiration.  It could be information about a violation, a betrayal, a secret fantasy, a longing, an indiscretion…  How deep can you go?  And will it benefit you to go there?  Will it benefit your audience as well?

To access these parts of you, try an exercise: take several deep breaths deep into your belly.  Sit with your back straight and your feet on the floor.  Let your eyes close and your breath return to normal. Ask your conscious mind to relax, and begin to allow the subconscious mind to speak.  Information may come in phrases, pictures, or sounds.  Focus now on the story at hand.  Ask your subconscious to un-conceal whatever it is that would be most helpful for you to know in order to tell this particular story.  Sometimes it can help to trick yourself a little in order to hear the answer..   You can tell yourself that you don't have to stick with the answer–that you only have to hear it once and can forget it if it's too much, which it could be.  Know that your subconscious will only allow itself to divulge information which you can currently handle.  When you're ready, take another few deep breaths, sense your body, come back to the room, and then write for at least five minutes about what you discovered.

If you're looking for more support in developing your one person show, consider solo show coaching with me.  I work via Skype with actors, writers, and standup comedians across the country.

Alicia Dattner
Comedian & Creativity Coach

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

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

So to recap, Part 1 of "So You Want to Write a One Person Show", I spoke about discovering the Central Moment on which your show pivots.

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. We threw out all we "knew" and explored all possible avenues.  This is where the rubber meets the road–we took creative risks and pushed past our normal habits and ideas about who we are and what we can create.

Part 4, Take a break, play, and contact your muses. We contacted our "muses"–that something greater that guides us and shows its genius.

Part 5, Bringing it all together, editing, refining through performance.  "The difference between a standup show and a solo show is that in standup, the character knows exactly what they're talking about and exactly what they think.  And they're going to tell you.  In a solo show, the character doesn't know.  They're looking for something, they want something, and they're figuring it all out with you, on this ride, together.  The hero has a conflict."

Part 6, Kill Your Darlings.  Take some steps back, acknowledge and let go of your darlings.  What is really in your work because it stands on its own, and what is there that needs explaining?What is in this piece that sheds light on some aspect of humanity never before spoken, and what is trite or cliche?  The joy will come, not in hearing the accolades, but in being an instrument for something truly, humanly brilliant that touches people's hearts and raises the stakes in living their lives fully.

Part 7, Owning Your Story.  

It's time to own it.  Ask yourself, what did you learn?  About yourself?  About the world?  Who are you today?  Is nothing ever the same again?  Is everything actually the same as it's always been?  Are you ok with that?  Why or why not?  

It takes a lot of chutzpah to create a solo show and tell your deepest, most personal shtuff in front of complete strangers.  Let alone people you know.  What drives you?  Is it a compulsion to over-disclose?  Are you telling to much in order to push people away?  Out of a hope that if they really knew you, they'd stop liking you?  Cause it won't work.  The more we know about you, the more we like you.  

I've always loved the phrase, "Your attributes make you likable, but it's your flaws that make you lovable."  After it takes guts to tell your story in your big one person show, it takes brains.  Brains to work out the truth of your story, seeing it from your vantage point.  It's easy for us to look at a dissheveled, homeless person and see their life story.  But so much more is there than we can see.  Alternatively, it's easy for us to look at our lives and see the inside version of the story.  To actually see ourselves simultaneously from the inside out and the outside in, that takes real skill, objectivity, perceptivity, and honesty.  Of course it's going to remain subjective in many ways because it's us telling what happened with ourselves.  

So but there's an incredible amount of work that goes into being able to actually see and tell the story, and there's one final trap to avoid once we've got our script all worked out and our scenes all staged and blocked (you did do that part, right?)  Once we've got our aunt Lil's voice down pat and our sister Jessie's squeal just right.  The trap is that we can get so "clear" about the story that we forget to actually own it.  To come to a place where we re-live it anew (without re-traumatizing ourselves… and this is a whole topic for discussion) and then we come to learn something about ourselves, to experience a transformation, on stage, in public.  

The trap is that we can forget to actually be present for it.  The deep deep work we've done on the way is challenging and rocky, and that time on stage is the sweet reward.  It's the gift we receive and it's also the gift we give to the audience.  It's the gift of us arriving at this moment through telling the story of how we arrived at this moment.  It's grace.  It's power.  It's peace.  Own it.  And let it go.  

These are the qualities you may be experiencing and needing to convey to the audience as you reach the climax or conclusion of your story.  And notice how the actual story in some way begins to dissolve as these qualities emerge.  It's similar to a photo coming more and more into focus and then as the focus gets so sharp it is suddenly so close or so far away that the image dissolves into nothingness an all that's left is a sense of Violet or Cyan or Indigo that forms a kind of sunset we all watch together.  A kind of quietness, like, "Well, that happened."

So, what are you waiting for?  Go get 'em, Tiger!


Stay tuned for "Advanced Solo Conversation: Professionals in the World of Solo Performance."

And check out an interview with solo performer and comedian Joe Klocek here.