Session called by Sarah-Louise Young. 
Participating were a lovely mixture of writers, performers, directors, venues and first time makers. Thanks to everyone who came. 
We collected experience and questions and addressed the following issues: 
We have now set up a support group for female and female identifying solo theatremakers which you are welcome to join:
1. Emotional and Physical well-being
Both in the making and performing of a solo piece we shared top tips for (and the need to) look after your mind and body especially when it's just you on stage or in the room. Imagine a separate version of you and treat them with the kindness you would a friend. Self-hypnosis, mindfulness, sleep, hydration, CBD oil and meditation were recommended. Creating a structure to your pre and post show routine (warming down as well as warming up). Safeguarding your boundaries especially after the show. How available are you for your audience post show? 5 minutes? 15? Not at all? If your show contains challenging themes you can provide onward links to people who may have been affected by it but it is not your role to be a therapist. If you are making a show about your own experience it's especially vital to have the right collaborators (see Collaborators) and ask yourself if this is the right time to be telling your story. You the performer and everyone working on your show need to feel safe. If you are touring alone you could set up a Buddy System where at least one other person knows your schedule and you can check in with them after the show.
2. Collaborators - how and when to pick them and how to work together 
Everyone felt that some collaboration or outside eyes on your project was valuable: this could be a director, dramaturg, choreographer, or a test audience (see Sharing the work). You could choose to work in a ‘pick-and-mix’ way, bringing in experts in their field for short periods or doing test days to make sure the creative relationship if a fit for you both. Taking a director our for a coffee to chat through your experience and hopes for the work is a good idea, you could even go on a theatre date, see a show and use it as a spring board for conversation. You don’t have to share the same tastes to work together but the way you discuss the event might give you an opportunity to sound each other out as collaborators. Look at their CV, discuss their process, ask of yourself what kind of direction your particular story needs (is it already scripted or do you need help devising?) Once you have decided to work together create a mission statement, something to return to during the process if things get sticky and an e-mail of understanding or contact. This can be artistic and/or practical. Working with people you know can be great because you already have a short hand and it can be challenging because you may bring those pre-conceptions into the room and hinder the process. The group agreed that mainly it was a positive - just don’t share a home with them at the same time! Take some time apart. Agree ground rules and permission and revisit them thought the process. Recommend the ‘Song Exploder’ podcast for collaboration. 
3. Sharing the work 
You could do a very informal sharing in your kitchen to a handful or trusted allies (some artists and some potential audience) to strength test your idea before it’s fully cooked. This can be daunting but it can allow you to see how your material is landing. You could ask for feedback. In the spirit of protecting you from being ambushed you could make this feedback session timed (e.g. 20 mins max) and invite specific questions (e.g. what did you want more/less of?) Your director could facilitate this to give you protective space. You could record it to listen to later (seek audience permission first). Some people prefer to reflect and write their responses too so give them that option. Ultimately no piece of theatre is for everyone so use the opportunity to tune into your experience of sharing the work. 
4. Rehearsals 
Shorter days were recommended (e.g. 11am to 4pm) as solo work is so intensive. Also taking a proper lunch break and leaving the rehearsal space. It’s easy to let the creative process bleed into every second together but we all need a refresher. If you are working with a friend you may want to draw a line between talking about the show and talking about other things on the journey to and from work for example (not always possible but if an idea os so good it needs to bubble up that’s good!) It’s rare to have 4 consecutive weeks blocked out to work on a show due to funding but working in clusters of dates can be productive. Time in between sessions to take stock, learn lines, develop a skill or reflect on what has been made. If the show is devised but will ultimately be scripted you may need to agree a cut off point for new creation. This doesn’t mean the script can’t change during the run but our directors sometimes found the making process never ended and the performer could be reluctant to commit to the story they wanted to tell. 
5. Money 
Shows can be rehearsed in living rooms and parks. You can trade skills or time for resources (baby-sitting/editing skills/massage/singing lessons/the list is endless - what can you offer in exchange for other skills?) Our directors agreed a project fee as opposed to hourly/daily. Some offered a trial day rate which then became a project fee. Consider tech and dress rehearsals, visits during the run, travel, out of rehearsals discussions on script… what is covered in your fee? 
6. Imposter Syndrome - what stops is making the show? 
Fear of exposure, not enough tech support, not enough business knowledge, money, fear of the audience. Chatting to other makers helps. If you have a wild stage direction you don’t have to know how to realise it yet. It could be a creative gift to your director. Solo work can me magic because it asks the audience to take an imaginative leap. One person potentially playing multiple parts… We discussed the relationship with the audience. Who are they to you? What role do they take? Participants, witnesses? Check out how they are involved in Every Brilliant Thing and Tim Crouch’s work. Recommended Debra Frances White’s Ted Ex Talk ‘Charisma Vs Stage Fright’. What relationship do you want to have with them? Your vulnerability is your super power! 
7. Real life stories 
A question was asked about adapting someone’e real life experience into a play whilst they are still alive. In the UK anything in the public domain is fair game as long as you don’t slander them - then they might want to sue you! In this particular case the person was known to the artists and invited to do the work, but challenged by the creative team making small changes to the story in the theatricalisation of it. Having clear conversations about how the process will work and seeking permission to take some artistic licence up front is helpful. The subject must be happy with the result of course but explaining that by turning a story into a theatre piece some elements may need to change and gaining their trust is key. Carving out time in the making room without them there should be safeguarded. It is okay to revisit the plan during the process and check in with everyone. Is this still working for everyone? 
Other Top Tips
Ask another person to read your solo script out loud to you. Hear it in another voice. 
Pair up with other solo makers and be each other’s outside eyes. 
Solo theatre making does not have to be lonely - get out and support other artists, cheer lead them. If you take a solo show to Edinburgh reach out to other solo acts - or even try to get cast in another show so you all your focus isn’t on your show. 
Know when to take a break from the show, especially if you have been touring it relentlessly for 10 years! It’s okay to put it in moth balls for a bit. 
Dedicate the show to someone (privately to yourself backstage) before going on to give you an external focus or use points of concentration to keep you in the room if you’ve started to get stale (see point above). 
Lots more to discuss around this theme but it was a great start. If anyone is working alone who identifies as female feel free to get in touch with me and I will invite you to a new Facebook Support Group starting soon. If you do not identify as female and feel there should be a general support group, why not start on and please invite me! Thank you :-) 
We have now set up a support group for female and female identifying solo theatremakers which you are welcome to join: