I know a thing or two about one-woman shows. And I don’t mean ‘thing or two’ in the smug way experts say it - I mean that I know one thing, or maybe two things, about the process of creating and performing a solo show.
I currently have a one-woman show in this year’s fringe - I wrote and produced They Called Her Captain at the Playwrights’ Center. It stars Maggie Bearmon Pistner and tells the story of her mother’s time in the Women’s Army Corps during WWII. This is the second solo show I’ve written - the other I also perform, an educational piece about Mary Shelley that currently runs at The Bakken Museum.
There is a lot to love about one-person shows. They are untethered by complicated scheduling, or need for big rehearsal spaces. It’s just a performer, a director, and an audience. So simple... But it is also a lonely pit of self-centered conceit; and - for better or for worse - you’re never really alone.
There are 176 shows in this year's Fringe Festival and 47 of them are solo shows. They cover every genre but dance and their subjects run the gamut from "...a transgender woman's transition and search for herself." Changing with Grace: When Daddy Becomes Mama Christy
to “...a thirteen-song cycle of love, betrayal and redemption sung by the ghost of Anna Morgan Faber.” The Legend of White Woman Creek
I’m gonna see as many solo shows as I can. And I’m gonna judge. And I’m gonna empathize... and I’m gonna get jealous and inspired and angry and bored. And I’m gonna get hungry and I might also get drunk.
And then I’m going to come here and tell you if they used recorded voice-over to replicate dialogue and why that’s a cop-out. I’m going to navigate the difference (or lack of) between shows which have a writer/director/performer; and those that have a writer, director, and performer.
I might recommend shows for you to see or avoid; but really... I don’t care what you do. Your fringe is your business.
I’m doing this solo*...
*Unless I’m not.