It was 2007, and I'd had my 4th solo show produced at the SOLO Nova Festival in NYC. A huge honor not only because the festival itself was such a big deal, but after months of consideration and only 12 slots my show Butterfly Suicide was selected.
They put us up at a PS122 (Performance Space). The same place where famous solo artists like Karen Finley and John Leguizamo worked. For over 10 years solo character work was my focus and this time was a pinnacle in my artistic career. In honor of that time I have a tattoo of a monarch butterfly on my forearm.
So why am I telling you all of this? Well, much like my overall message with improv, we all have a solo show inside of us. Childhoods, coming of age stories, relatives, mentors, horror stories... we all have them. These are universal experiences many of us walk around with every day. In fact, many of us try to forget them and just move on.
Well, that's not always a bad thing, but what if? What if that summer you spent as a kid validates someone else's story? What if your big realization about yourself on your 20's is actually the same realization someone else had? What if that "invisible" friend you had as a kid showed up today? What kind of solo show, stand-up comedy or public speaking event could that be? Hilarious? Moving? Vulnerable?
I've directed actors and non-actors. People who have NEVER stepped on a stage have worked with me on solo pieces. People have walked into my studio with ZERO written and walked away with an entire show staged and gone on an international tour. I've worked with famous people. I've worked with moms. I've worked with Lawyers, Uber drivers and singer songwriters.
Everyone has a story. Let me guide you so you can tell it.
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Samantha Jones in Butterfly Suicide
I wanted to write a solo show badly. For many years, but had no idea how to pull the things out of me that I wanted to write about. Samantha literally changed my life. I had wrapped so much fear around the process of writing. She simplified it and gave me exercises and tools and before I knew it I was having the time of my life and I had written more material than I knew what to do with. I put up a show, that Sam also directed, and I have since performed it several times at some crazy cool venues and been paid great money to do so.
Two months into my solo-coaching with Samantha Jones and we have outlined an entire one-woman-show! Her assigned prompts allowed me to explore topics I hadn't yet considered. Her feedback forced me to consider new narrators, new approaches, silly and sorrowful angles. Her expertise extracted performances I would have never known lived inside me, apparently itching to get out! Beyond those tangible rewards, Sam's infectious laugh, her open heart, and her ability to actively listen to my stories has changed me as an artist, and (dare I say) newly-minted confident person. I have never created this fluidly before; she's made me feel safe and supported enough to do so. She once called my story an "emergency" for audiences. I say, attending her solo-coaching classes is an emergency for artists!
Your life is about to get really interesting....