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.