Tips for writing your one-person show

So you want to write a one person show?

 First off, do everything you can think of to talk yourself out of this idea. Go clean the bathroom, organize your cupboards, take a long hot bath and wait for the fever to pass. If a solo show is still brewing within you and longs to take form, then it’s time to dig deeper (yes, like a ferret!) and actually start working on turning your dream into reality. Here are a few tips:

1. KEEP A JOURNAL.  And then write down everything your mother ever said. Plus write down any random ideas, images, overheard conversations and excerpts from your dreams.  Work from abundance. Consider that you are collecting ingredients for a delicious stew and you won’t know what you need until you need it.  Some ingredients you may use, other ideas you may toss -but you never know where one little stray carrot might take you.   

2. GIVE YOURSELF SHORT ASSIGNMENTS.  Don’t expect that you’ll be able to create a one person show overnight. Set the timer for ten minutes and write like the devil. See if you can get the first few pages down and then read it to a friend. Work on one story that may eventually be part of your larger tapestry. Keep adding to it, like pearls on a necklace or squares on a quilt.  You’ll be surprised at how quickly it all adds up.

3. ASK YOURSELF – WHAT MAKES MY STORY UNIQUE?  Okay, so maybe there really isn’t anything new under the sun, but what are the one or two things that make your story interesting enough to get people to leave their big flat screen TV’s and sit in a theatre? 

4. SEE OTHER ONE-PERSON SHOWS.  Not only will you be inspired, you will also learn a tremendous amount about what works and what doesn’t. Steal what works. Also, most solo performers are very supportive of one another. It helps to network.

5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Creating and performing a one-person show is like training for a marathon – something crazy people do!  You will need to maintain good health and good spirits. Writing and performing a solo show can be both exhausting and exhilarating.  It can also be one of the most creative and empowering adventures you can take!

Recommended Reading: Extreme Exposure: An Anthology of Solo Performance Texts from the Twentieth Century – interviews and excerpts from solo artists by Jo Bonney


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2 comments on “Tips for writing your one-person show
  1. Jsyne says:

    If you can manage to get bitten by a rabid raccoon, that always helps.

  2. Ginny Dice says:

    What a show! Laugh-out-loud funny, and moving. I so enjoyed it and hope everyone gets a chance to see it.

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