Divulging the Material that Will Create Your Solo Show

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.

via www.creativeheartcoaching.com

Whether performing standup comedy or making a new painting, your creative process feeds on bits of truth from your subconscious. Here's how to dig inside and get the goods…

Solo Performer and Comedian Bill Santiago Interview

image from assets.nydailynews.com Alicia Dattner> I remember you'd been performing for a year when I first started and we met… How did you start doing comedy?

Bill Santiago> I had friends that were interested and got me hooked. But it appealed to me right off. Say what ever you want to say. Use your wits. Get people to see things your way. Laughter. Applause. What's not to like?

AD> What was your motivation to write a show about dancing?

BS>Whenever I'm dancing I have this inner monologue going on, about about how well it's going or not, all the characters out there that you see and meet and dance with, whether I just nailed a move, or someone's foot, the constant frustrations and occasional moments of unparalleled joy, and the simple human interaction of being that close to someone you don't know and trying to synchronize. Plus how obsessive people can get about their dancing, and how far it's come, the Latin dancing, from the way that my parents danced, how people are taking it now to a ridiculously Cirque du Soleil level that is frankly laughable. 

And the way the different people dance the different dances, and how each dance has its own tricks and personalities, salsa, versus tango, versus bachata, versus samba, versus flamenco, versus cumbia, versus merengue, and on and on. And the teachers, my God, they're all such crazy gurus! And the whole process of learning, how you have to train yourself to absorb these movements into your own being, and how thrilling it is to be learning. There's a lot there. 

The quest to become the dancer you'll never be and enjoy yourself as much as possible along the way. It's a comedic gold mine, really. And combining standup so closely with dance is new for me, allows me to be physical on stage, and look for the humor in the physicality as much as in the words. And I get to work with super musicians, and invite people from the audience to come up on stage and dance with me. It's very interactive. It's always a different show, you know.

AD> What's your favorite thing about dancing?

BS>My favorite thing about dancing is the connection that you have with where you come from, this music stirs that in you, and the escape that you have from everything else in your day, in the periphery of the present. I love that when you're dancing nothing else matters, and if you're lucky you can let go, and maybe connect with someone else in a very unique and beautiful way. But it's high stakes because there is a lot of pride on the line, that's the stuff of funny. 

image from www.speakoutnow.org  AD> What's your favorite thing about comedy?

BS>My favorite thing about comedy is whatever latest the line I am working on to perfect, or idea that I am trying to get traction on. When it works, when I finally get it to gel and I hear the laughter, it's very satisfying. I like that bulls-eye feeling. It's also nice when people remind you that you are doing good work, that it has affected them, that it matters, that they want to see more and that you are appreciated. 

AD> How would you classify what you do? Is it standup? Is it solo performance? Is it something else?

BS>It depends on the project that I am working on, the particular show. The "Funny of (Latin) Dance" show is way beyond standup, but standup is the basis of my approach, I apply that skill, those chops to this new topic, and hopefully renders an entirely new kind of show. 

AD> Anything else you'd like to share with us?

BS>I'd love to share some of the spontaneous magic that happens on stage when I invite folks from the crowd to come up on stage and dance with me in this show, but you are just going to have to come out and experience it for yourself.

Bill Santiago performs all over the country.  Go see him. 

-Alicia

Find your way, no matter what.

Woodpath
In my creativity coaching practice, I work with all kinds of performers.  A client of mine just told me that she had quit performing for a year because of some unkind words from a booker.  The booker's words had nothing to do with her performance; he was upset about something else.  She knew that, but was so shocked by such treatment that she didn't return to the stage. 

Guess what she did with that yearShe spent it honing her craftShe recorded and watched herself performing over and over again, rehearsed every day, and created a rock-solid repertoire.  (Insert montage sequence with the theme from Rocky here.)  When she worked up the courage to return to the stage, she knew her talent and skill was unquestionable.  And if a booker (or audience member, or anyone) ever speaks unkindly again, she'll know without a doubt that it's because they had a bad day.  And more importantly, she's knows she's earned her self-esteem and her place on stage.  I just saw her perform for the first time, and she's soulful, highly skilled, and beautifully in touch with her heart.

Her commitment to her goals in the face of fear inspires me.

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    "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor."

    -Vince Lombardi

Want to write a one-person-show? Do it now!

Longnow
I've been working on my one-woman-show for the last year, and I'm
really excited to let you know it's going to be featured in the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival in September!  It's called The Punchline,
and it's all about my dream of being a famous comedian and the things
that get in my way…  I've had lots of help from some really talented
and generous people, and I'd like to share with you some simple ways to
get started.

So, here are five easy steps to get started now on your one-man-show, a one-woman-show, a solo-transgender show, or a
very long monologue from someone of unspecified gender… 

Step one:  Decide
to tell your life story.  (This is what all first works are
about–first albums, first books, first drinks…  You can write about
politics and stuff when you've gotten yourself out of the way.)

Step two:  Write your truth, and tell it from the point of view of all the characters in your life (or all the characters in your head.)

Step three: Book
a show two months from now, and tell everyone you know to come see
you.  Publicize!  (This ensures that you'll really do it.)

Step four:  Get
some studio time and a director to give you feedback and incorporate
it.  Then, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.  (Don't ask your wife or your
boyfriend or your dog what they think of your work.  They won't be able
to give you helpful criticism until they see the show on opening night.)

Step five:  Perform! 
Take your due on stage, strut your stuff, and tell your story for
real–be the most you-est you you've ever been, share your story in a
way that lets the audience fully see who you really are.  (Hint: the
less you care how good you are, the better you'll be.)

In another blog, I'll let you know about some good teachers, directors, and other resources for solo shows.

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So, do it now!  "Yesterday is rarely too early but tomorrow is frequently too late."