Creative Therapy

The Guts of Solo Performance

The Guts of Solo Performance

Thursday, 1st May 2014

Last weekend was the closing of my one woman show BABA, a project I wrote, performed and had been in development for over three years. It’s been a powerful experience both as a playwright and performer, and it’s informed me in just about every facet of my life. As I approach the last three performances of the run, I thought now would be the perfect time to reflect on the core lessons I’ve learned from the world of solo performance.

Vulnerability is the vehicle to connection.

I based this project on true stories, interviews, some personal history, and imagination. It’s a perfect storm of fact and fiction that is based on an honesty I could never have invented. And so, as terrifying as it was to share so much heart from the lives of real people including my own, I realized in the end that it was the essence of what made the show so powerful to watch and transformative to perform. Vulnerability is the vehicle to connection.

Humor is always, always accessible. But to find it, you have to let go.

There’s a lot of comedy built into the show, but the only way I can genuinely access it is to give up on all ideas that worked in the past. The funny needs to be discovered in the moment. It’s about lightening up. Humor is always, always accessible. But to find it, you have to let go.

Relaxation is not the goal. It’s the path.

Even as a trained performer, having all those eyes on you can be unnerving. And yet, one of the greatest gifts of solo performance is learning how to release the tension of being on stage. If you can find the grace of staying present, it’s actually impersonal and then the focal point becomes everyone in the room. Suddenly, the role of performer then is to guide the collective experience. But in order to do that, we have to learn to relax deeply, totally, and without apology. Relaxation is not the goal. It’s the path.

The personal is a gateway to the universal.

So often we hide our stories because we’re embarrassed or we forget them because we no longer identify with that part of us. But in remembering, we have a unique opportunity to heal, connect, and discover the truth implicit in any given experience. And what is mind blowing is that when you share your own story without apology or assumption, you realize you’re not alone. Stories connect us to each other, to our past, to our future, and to the moment. The personal is a gateway to the universal.

Denmo is the founder and CEO of Earthbody. She is a writer, artist, therapist, and coach. You can reach Denmo here.

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