Talking with Solo Performer and SuperGenius Ann Randolph

Talking with Solo Performer and SuperGenius Ann Randolph
Ann Randolph is a briliant and inspiring solo performer, comic actor, writer, and teacher in the theater world.  I first saw her show Squeezebox at The Marsh a couple of years ago and last year saw her new show, Loveland this last year. Her work is honest, imaginative, and quirky, with liberal doses of subversiveness and whimsy.  I've been working on a new book about solo performance and comedy and Ann was at the top of my list of people to interview.
Alicia: What event or desire brought you into the world of performance?
Ann: I think it was the first time I saw Carol Burnett.  I wanted to be her. I loved her sketches–they were more like mini one acts, and it was about the character and relationships and not the joke.  I started impersonating different family members and friends early on and got hooked on making others laugh.

Alicia: What is your favorite thing about doing this work?

Ann: The most favorite thing is being onstage and being alive in the moment where you and the audience feel as if you're going on this wild journey together.  I also love the self discovery process which happens in the writing process and the tremendous freedom of speaking truths that I sometimes hide in other characters.

Alicia: What is your development process?  Do you write a lot on stage, improvising? More on paper?

Ann: I do both. I get on my feet and improvise.  I record myself and take notes.  I also explore on the paper too.

Alicia: Who are some of your influences?

Chris Rock, Carol Burnett, Christopher Guest, Jane Lynch, John Waters, Lily Tomlin…

Alicia: Did you come to this art form directly, or was it a meandering path?

Ann: I knew early on that this is what I wanted to do, but I sure did meander a lot because I was afraid.

Alicia: Was commitment to the work ever a question? A challenge?  Do people try to make you choose or not understand what you're creating?

Ann: I was committed, but I had a serious discipline problem. It was hard for me to stay focused. Around age 30, I got fed up with myself and got much more focused.  Still working on being more disiplined.  And no, I don't have people trying to get me to write certain things.  I like to write about what I'm currently facing in my life- whether it be grief, loss, love etc.

Alicia: What other art forms influence you?

Ann: Music actually influences me more than other solo artists do.  I hear ideas, humor, themes, stories in music.  In particular, Astor Piazzola and Morricone.

Alicia: Why perform?  What does it offer?

Ann: Peforming is fantastic because you get to speak your truth and connect deeply with others.
Alicia: What suggestions do you give to aspiring comedic monologue performers?
Ann: Take as much stage time as possible.  I will work out material whenever I can and on any stage. It's the best teacher.

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