The Good, Bad, Ugly, Unexpected, and Beautiful Parts of Solo TheatreDec 22, 2022
When pandemic hit, I was staring into the zoom screen at my mentor and our group, trying to make sense of the right next move.
We were posed a challenge in the mastermind. Bring a 10-year plan into existence in one year. With this challenge, I now had a focus as the world was checking out and freaking out, I had something to build that was bigger than myself. I also LOVE a challenge.
My brain didn’t go to business. I drew a one-woman musical. Large stage. grand piano. Full house. I drew it on paper faster than my hands could write. I looked down at the paper and my eyes welled with tears. A fire that I hadn’t felt in a long time stoked inside me and then I and said,
“Oh Shit?!... HOW? WHAT? HUH?!”I don’t know the first thing about any of this. I’m known for my strategic business brain. The 2 best-selling books I’ve written. The international stages I’ve spoken on and audiences I’ve served."
Imposter syndrome, the thought that you only have success by luck or chance, stared to enter into my head before I even wrote one word on the page.
“I don’t belong in this world,”
That snarky little bitch in my brain started to act up. I looked at that declaration, I made a promise. I wouldn’t disrespect myself by not going for it. I wouldn’t take myself out before I even started. There are plenty of people in your life who are more than happy to disrespect you, to tell you what you can and can’t have, can and can’t do, who you can and can’t be. That you’re too big, small, loud, quiet, shy, fierce, sensitive. That you’re not enough. I wasn’t going to do it to myself.
As a kid and even into my adulthood. I’d morph myself into whatever everyone else wanted me to be, to keep the peace and to not be a target to survive.
There was so much internal and external work to do to bring this story to life and to be in a healed place to tell it and I took it on with a smile and a whole lot of tears.
Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Big Magic talks about how,
"Ideas are disembodied, energetic life forms driven by an impulse to manifest, searching for available and willing human partners to collaborate with."
This idea of a one-woman play was paying me a visit, but it wasn’t so foreign. As a kid I’d write stories, and sing, and make up dances with my friends on the school yard. I’d ask my mom if I could join musical theatre, she said no. I pleaded for a few months, and then I gave up. So here it was. This idea came swirling back to me as I turned 40. Elizabeth Gilbert states that the idea will move onto someone else if we don’t take it. Maybe I wasn’t an imposter after all. Now I just had to run the miles.
I started talking about this dream and this goal in my communities.
Who knows playwrights, songwriters, solo theatre coaches? I talked to 3 playwrights. No one would ghost write this play for me.
Then I met a woman who’s produced over 100 solo theatre shows. She told me that her and her team walk you through every aspect of the show from creating characters, to putting together the mosaic pieces of the script, to blocking, and staging, tech, and rehearsal and world premiere. She encouraged me to start watching solo theatre and pick what I like and what I didn’t like, and to think about what dramatic question my show was going to answer. I wrote
“How do you love all of yourself? How do you see yourself, not for your accomplishments, or accolades, but for essence of who you are?”
Then with her help and friends, I found a director, choreographer, songwriter, lighting and sound designer, makeup artist and theatre owner in my world. I had the team and the dream.
My songwriter is a multi- platinum composer. When he said yes to take me on, I knew I wasn’t just doing this. I was doing this with a team of excellence! I had a team to captain, and these were all A players!
As I was working from home, our business was soaring, helping our son navigate virtual schooling, keeping my house and health together, I started to look at this play like a marathon. I decided to break it up in mile markers and stages to walk, jog, run, the 5k, the 10k, the half marathon. marathon.
Walk, I wrote every day. Jog, I signed myself up for 3 captivating characters workshops where I built all 25 characters of this show. I had to write and present monologues and create characters scenes. I started doing daily vocal warmups 30 minutes and meeting with my sing, songwriter, vocal coach to compose and write the music. Run, I committed to a table reading in October (6 months after I started) so I had to finish the script and rehearse the characters. I blocked out 2 hours a day of rehearsal. 5K, Solofest in March (5 months after the table reading). I had to have it finalized, memorized, blocked, physicalized, up on its feet ready to go.
Now, in June, I’m at my 10k, the Hollywood Fringe!
(Next is Hamilton Ontario Fringe in July. Then United Solo, the largest solo festival in the world. Off Broadway, 42nd street in New York and one day.. Broadway!)
My world premier went incredible. I had a moment on the stage, after the shock and awe wore off, I realized. I did it! I completed the challenge! I ran the damn race! I crossed the first finish line! And that felt really freaking good.
After Solofest, we re-wrote and deepened the main characters arc, I added another song for Hollywood Fringe. My show continues to evolve, but what stays the same is the impact is has on the audience.
Solo shows are deeply personal and what used to scare me now empowers me.
I went back into therapy and healing for this show, not because I’m broken or need to be fixed but because it’s always a good idea to talk to someone.
Trauma is multi-layered. Feeling and memories can feel fresh again when you go back and visit them. That’s what happened for me, but the result, I saw every player, every experience in my life from a new light. In a way, this show healed me on a deeper level and it’s a gift that I get to give it to the audience. Good art heals you. It helps you see things differently.
My last piece of the puzzle for this “10K, Hollywood Fringe,” was ensuring the inclusivity of my show. From a woman who felt like she never belonged, I wanted my show to be accessible to everyone.
One Friday family movie night, we decided to watch the movie CODA. I needed an entire box of tissues by my side, and it moved me in ways that I can’t begin to put on paper.
As the Black Lives Matter movement taught me about my white privilege. With CODA, I became aware of how those who are deaf and hard of hearing experience theatre differently and I became aware of my ability privilege.
Here I was, worrying about if my play was good enough. Now I realize what a gift it is to be able to move effortlessly around the stage. To see and hear and be fully expressed. I want all audience members, in every way, to be able to fully experience my show. That’s why I’m making my show inclusive with large print programs, copies of scripts, special seating and an ASL interpreter. My hope is that we move to making all shows inclusive.
Al Pacino says,
“It’s easy to fool the eye and hard to fool the heart.”
I hope you’ll come experience my one-woman musical show, “Too Big For Her Britches.” It’s my honor and privilege to share it with you. Thank you for being an integral part of the dream. Thank you for being open to experiencing something new. In case no one has told you lately, You are loved, you are whole, you are beautiful.”
Check out the latest show information here!
Written by Lisa Pezik