Solo Show Sharing

Convener(s): Stella Duffy 

Participants: Emma deakin, David Green, Martyn Duffy, Morvern Macbeth, Emma Newborbn, Natalie queron, Dan Copeland, Liz Porter, Mark Trezona, Beccy Owen, Rupert Jones, Angela Clerkin

And others

Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations:

Lots of questions and then a festival!!!

- Applying for (funding, a space, a festival) first, before making show, is a good provocation to get it made! Deadlines very useful.

- What do we make our stories about?

- When are we ‘allowed’ to make a show? At start of our career? Only at end of our career when we have ‘something’ to say?

- solo shows are not necessarily autobiographical

- where does it come from? – for some of us theatre is the place to process the big questions – disease, illness, death, life babies, birth, divorce, marriage etc & solo show a good form to do that.

- it’s useful to ask people (people we trust/like) to watch us, work with us, while making – so we know what interests them as well as what interests us.

- is there a predjudice against solo shows? What brings audiences in? name? subject matter?

- it can be useful to find a way to talk to audience, to include them

- if the show is autobiographical, it doesn’t also have to be fully ‘truthful’

- for a singer it makes a difference to talk (or not) between songs, how the singer presents themselves is also a ‘show’ (or not!)

- when it’s just you on stage, the audience project hugely on to you, about who and what you are

- how do we physicalise our characters in making a solo show? Do we need to? Can just sitting and talking be enough? If not, are we sure fully physicalised other characters are useful/the right thing? Is somewhere in between useful?

- the value of design/sound to ‘hold up’ the performer

- solo shows are cheaper to tour!!

- is it ok to make it purely for yourself? Do you need to worry about what the audience wants/thinks/how they react? How concerned are we about being self-indulgent?

- we like AUDACITY rather than self-indulgence!

- what is the smallest number of audience you’d do a solo show for? 1? 2? 4?

- is it ok just to sit on a chair and tell a story? Can that be ‘theatrical’ enough? Is it ok to add in loads of stuff (sound, lights, screen, projection) or is that too scary?

- Angela : ‘what I don’t like is thinking I could hear this in a pub, what I want is something that lifts it’

- the value of trying things out, time to play, very useful, hard to keep perspective alone

- Mark Trezona : ‘the audience relationship is at its most compelling when there is only one performer’

- all good theatre is a conversation

- then a longer discussion about using other media in solo shows, and can it interfere or be useful? Angela said the bits that feel like conversation need to be live, the stuff that feels like atmosphere can be video, useful to identify what’s best to be screened/recorded/live.

- it’s possible to stretch a 40 min show to a 60 min show (when required!) by adding 20 mins of great conversation with the audience!


And then ….

  • what if there was a festival of solo shows? Have there been any? If there was one, would people go? Would we?
  • Several people might want to make solo shows together, maybe sharing designers, directors etc, supporting each other
  • We might well make a group and make a festival of solo shows! Natalie is (probably) actionning this on Monday …