A: Monologue work has always been of interest to me. It is a fundamental building block of drama. It's everywhere from the first Greeks, to the most famous Shakespearean speeches, to stand-up comics, and of course to the monologue greats that we know today like Spalding Gray and Mike Daisy. So I've had a hankering to do solo work for years. I've done several written solo pieces by Eno, Beckett, and Rivera. It was only a matter of time before I started to write my own. This particular piece came as a result of a solo class I took with Rhonda Blair at SMU.
The process was exploratory. Mainly, we free wrote for hours at a time and looked for themes that presented themselves. Sex, Death, and Light Switches surfaced from those hours of writing and presenting what we had written. I first performed it at grad school to friends and colleagues. I can't help but have the feeling that the gaps in my writing were filled in by an audience who knows me and wanted me to succeed. The goal of this performance is to get a feel for how people who don't know me may receive the work, and heck, how I perform for an audience that isn't full of folks I know on a first name basis. It is my hope that the fear and excitement of a new audience doesn't prevent me from being honest.
Q: What special challenges do you see doing a solo show that are different than ensemble work?
A: I think on the surface there a ton of differences between doing solo work and ensemble work. A short solo show demands as much or more, from a text perspective, than someone playing a lead in an ensemble show. For example, St. Nicholas by Conor McPherson has a the performer memorizing far more lines than the leads in Richard III and Julius Caesar combined. There are also very few breaks in a solo show. Aside from the mechanical demands of line memorization, this can become taxing psychologically. These kinds of differences are pretty clear, even to folks who aren't practitioners. If you look a little closer though, you see there are a ton of similarities.
For example, in ensemble work given circumstances, objective, and action set up a framework, and listening to your partner guides you. The same is true for solo work. If we look any deeper however things start to get real hairy for a performer. Who is your partner in a solo piece is the prime question in my opinion. Your answer can change everything. Is your partner really the audience in front of you, or is it some imagined audience of judges, talk show hosts or best friends? What are the given circumstances? Are you in a theater, or by the Syringa tree? Both? These things consume me. It can be frustrating or enlightening; but it's almost always thrilling. It thrills me as a performer, and as an audience member. Something else that occurs to me: In ensemble work there is a common language learned in the rehearsal process that builds trust, so you can let go in performance and truly exist in the moment knowing that your partner will too. In solo work, you embody the story and build the trust at the same time, which is Herculean if you ask me.
Q: Any particular influences on you as an artist?
A: I'm influenced by whatever I see around me. All of the folks I mentioned in the above answers, but also Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and Lord Buckley. Oh, and Shakespeare Shakespeare Shakespeare. I know that's a cliched theater person answer, but dang he's good. I'm influenced by my friends, my wife, my family. Whatever makes them laugh I try to take to a stage. I pilfer my personal life.
For information about the show head... HERE.