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Herringbone

"This is a winning formula"

Putting on a solo show? All it takes is genius, says Jay James-Moody. It doesn't have to be your own.

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Category: Theatre
Company: Squabbalogic
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Going Solo: Ego and Anxiety In Equal Measure

Date: 8 Jan 2019

Four Months Out From Production:

Wake up one day with such extreme confidence that what the world needs, nay demands, is the opportunity to pay their hard earned money to sit and watch you alone on a stage for 90 minutes.

Important note: Do not give too much consideration to either the length of the piece or the inherent challenges it may present. These are unnecessary obstacles to obtaining the attention you desire.

Three Months Out From Production:

With confidence still brimming, select your preferred performance material. If you are considering writing your own show, it may give the impression that your sense of self-importance knows no bounds. Thus, it is crucial to only be credited as the producer, director and performer to maintain some semblance of modesty.

Important note: In choosing the appropriate script for your show, ensure it contains characters, physicality, music and staging that is outside of your current skill set.

This will allow you to discuss the need to “stretch your abilities” when publicising the show.

Do not give consideration to the fact you will have to deliver at some point down the track. It will only cause you unhelpful and crippling self-doubt.

Two Months Out From Production:

Announce your intentions to the world.

Supplement your announcement with images from a solo photo shoot.

Since you are the only actor in the show, it can’t hurt to have your face on the poster multiple times. This is an excellent opportunity to display the range of characters you have in your performers toolkit. You can demonstrate faces that appear ‘angry’, ‘happy’, ‘neutral’ and ‘constipated’.

Important note: Resist the temptation to show the audience too much of your talent too early. Remember, you are riding high on the confidence of an imagined finished product. Keep expectations at a moderate level.

One Month Out From Production:

Assemble your team. Ensure you surround yourself with people more talented, generous, supportive and grounded than you. They will provide a wealth of resources to your show as co-director-choreographers, musical directors, set, lighting, costume, and sound designers, stage managers, and musicians.

Even in instances where you are certain your ideas are unimpeachable, do not inhibit the creative input of your collaborators. Many of the audiences’ favourite moments and elements will have been suggested by these people.

However as the sole body standing centre stage and accepting the applause at the conclusion of the performance it will give the impression anything remarkable they have witnessed is the result of your singular genius.

Important note: This is a winning formula that has seen me handed awards in the past. Do not deviate.

Morning of First Rehearsal:

Panic. The importance of rising on the day of your first rehearsal feeling a sense of terror cannot be overstated.

If you can supplement the terror with sweating, nervous shakes, and the feeling you’re likely to vomit, your experience will be enhanced.

In other rehearsal circumstances you may have been able to deflect this anxiety by having a smaller role, or being the director only and projecting your trepidation onto the performers.

Today you will find yourself in the place you longed to be several months back: the centre of everyone’s attention. You will not like it, and it will not feel in any way as you imagined.

The stage is your blank page. You have set yourself up as the divine creative force to lead this project. Everyone is waiting around for you – and only you – to make the first move. This was all your idea so surely you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and haven’t only been thinking about the hyperbolic pull-quotes you can add to your SquareSpace website down the track.

Important note: It is possible to divert attention from the rehearsal and postpone any decision making for a maximum of 15 minutes only. Topics of discussion can include the new year celebrations, Christmas activities, or what people really thought about Lin Manuel Miranda in Mary Poppins Returns.

Afternoon of First Rehearsal:

Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re walking away from a solid six hours of rehearsal with 15 full minutes of your show staged.

Your team has provided you with dozens of wonderful ideas you’ll later knowingly claim as your own, and later still remember distinctly as your own creations.

You’ll be proud that nobody in the room seemed to mind your physical and vocal limitations, and that your character choices are broad and derivative.

This may give you the sense that if these long-time theatrical people can be fooled, a paying audience is sure to eat it up.

Important note: You must go to sleep that evening filled will the same confidence you began this process with several months back.

Morning of Second Rehearsal:

Panic. New ideas will be required today.

Important note: This process is to be repeated daily throughout until, and then beyond, the opening of the show.

One Day Post Closing Performance:

Select hyperbolic pull-quotes from reviews and update your Square Space website.

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